Welcome to the Think Unbroken Podcast! In this episode, we've compiled some of the most insightful discussions from our vault with some amazing guest speakers.... See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/unlocking-healing-mindfulness-and-trauma-recovery/#show-notes
Welcome to the Think Unbroken Podcast! In this episode, we've compiled some of the most insightful discussions from our vault with some amazing guest speakers.
First up, we have Grace Juba, who takes us on a journey of self-discovery and healing through your voice, ownership, yoga, and God. Grace shares her powerful insights and experiences on how you can break free from your limitations and embrace your true potential.
Next, we have Dr. Jud Brewer, who delves deep into the power of mindfulness and how it can transform your habits and help you achieve self-mastery. Dr. Brewer shares his expertise and real-life examples to help you harness the power of mindfulness and make lasting changes in your life.
Finally, we have Dr. Mitra Ray, who discusses the science of trauma, neuropsychology, neuroplasticity, and healing. Dr. Ray provides an in-depth understanding of the brain-body connection and how it plays a crucial role in the healing process.
Join us on this journey of self-discovery and transformation as we unlock the power of healing, mindfulness, and trauma recovery with our amazing guest speakers. Don't miss out on this insightful and informative podcast episode!
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Breaking Free: The Power of Healing Through Your Voice, Ownership, Yoga, and God with Grace Juba
Michael: And ownership is a scary word the people because we spend so much time just being, okay, with the fact that it's somebody else's fault and so in that you have to understand something so important that ownership is really about putting your feet on the ground and saying, I am the one in control of my life because the reality is nobody breathes for you, nobody lives for you, nobody loves for you, you're the only one capable of doing these things. But so much of that really starts with how you think about yourself than the world. Again, what you think becomes what you speak, what you speak is your actions, your actions, then become your reality. Talk about the pendulum swing about the way you used to talk to yourself versus the way you talk to yourself now?
Grace: Oh my gosh. The way I used to talk to myself. Oh! poor Gracie, I was so mean, especially when I had just come out of my family’s house, and that's when I really started taking a deep look at my PTSD and everything that had occurred ever since I was a baby and I just was so, I was very critical of myself, I was very demeaning, I was very demoralizing, I was also very self-pitying. Why me, why did this happen to me? And, you know, you're so stupid, why can't you do this right? And I think that part of that was something that I took on from my abusers. And I'm going to give myself Grace because when you're around that and it's a constant we hear it? They're going to kind of come into your head as tapes, but awareness mindfulness that really was what helped me look at what it was that I was saying to myself and yoga, especially is what helped for me just doing the poses, and if I couldn't get a pose, right? That's where I would start to see, like, this really critical and negative voice come up and be like, damn it, why can't you do this? But you can't do anything, right? But that's where it really taught me awareness, where I thought, would come up. Don't just look at the thought, don't get attached to it, and let it pass. And the more I did that, the more I started to choose which thoughts, I wanted like, oh, you're doing great. Okay, the sock and say you're doing terrible, that thought can go, I don't want that though, like, that does not serve me. So I'm just going to let that one go. And it's definitely, it's taken practice, but I went from depressed anxious, self-hating to now, like this really optimistic, grateful, loving person, and it's so much that it just bubbles over and other people feel it too. And I think that that's the biggest gift of healing. It not only heals yourself, but it heals other people around you. So what you say to yourself, how you treat yourself and how you feel is honestly, a ripple effect, like here you are, and you just send out these vibrations. So you might as well make them good ones, right? Because not only are you going to feel good but you're also going to help other people around you feel better.
Michael: Yeah, that I love that. I love that. The vibrations are everything, right? And you mentioned something, I think two things really important one. I touch on quickly, the power of yoga was so incredible for me in my journey and many people's Journey because it's actually the first time for most of us that we actually have to stop and be in our own body. So when you're growing up, and trauma, you're growing up in a cortisol state, your hyper-vigilant, you have fight or flight, just always turned on your body's never at rest, your brain is never at rest. And in yoga, it's funny. I won't share his story, but my little brother was like, dude, I was in yoga a couple of weeks ago and I was just bawling and I was like, yeah, dude, because you never took five fucking seconds to be alone with yourself. And so, if you're on the fence about yoga like it's, I don't think that it's something that should be taken lightly in terms of the power that it has to create change in your life. The other thing you mentioned was gratitude, gratitude is so difficult for people to wrap their heads around because it's something that right now is very common in the space of healing and personal development, but I don't think people really tap into the power of it. Because for me, gratitude is looking at, not only the micro wins in my life. I'm going damn, good job, man. I try to instill this into my clients and the people I work with, but can you celebrate the big things also and more, so can you show appreciation of the world. It's really easy to be like grief-stricken, and look at your life and go, I fucking hate this, the world is terrible, I was there, I raised my hand to trust me among the first people to admit this, but when I started stepping into gratitude in this way, where I was just looking for something to celebrate her be happy about there, was this tremendous change in my life, because I recognize, it's not always as dark as it looks. What was it like for you to go and step into gratitude? What does that Journey been for you?
Grace: I gotta say. I am so excited to talk about this one because this one is my absolute favorite and that's why I'm Instagram name, I am grateful Grace, but Michael, I was right there with you. A few years ago, I was 19 and I'm just like my therapist, like starting a gratitude journal, don't like what I have. No, there's nothing in my life to be grateful for my life sucks, you know? So I was right there on the grief train with you, but I just forced myself, every single night, I would sit down and I would find what I was grateful for and it started off as and grateful for air and I'm grateful for water, you know, I was so miserable back then. Oh my gosh. But the more I did it and it was like, maybe two or three nights in a row where I was like, grateful for air, grateful for water but then it started to turn into more. Like, okay, I'm grateful for the light, I'm grateful for the lunch that my grandma made me and I just I suck with it, I stuck with it and I would have to really look into my journals and see how long that first gratitude journal practice was but I then started to really stick with it and I tried to do it consistently every single night. And basically, I got to a point where I did it almost every single night I can't say there was a hundred percent, but for three years and it's not the point where like if someone cuts me off on the highway, I'm like I'm grateful for you and I could try to come up with a million reasons why, you know, maybe they save me from a speeding ticket, maybe they made me slow down, and look at the flowers, a little bit more, whatever it is. It is just I now have an abundance of gratitude that no matter what comes up in my life, I'm grateful for it. If something comes up in my life and it's going awry, it's not going the way I thought it should I'm grateful for it because I know that it's going to lead me down a different path, that is going to serve me and my purpose better.
And when I started implementing that onto the trauma that I had, that is where it really started to change my life because there was a clinical study and when people go through traumas such as us in such as, you know, whether it's any type of childhood abuse or whatever whenever you go through trauma, your brain is chemically altered correctly. But when you start, then attaching a positive reinforcement on to that, that's where you really start to amplify the empathy that you have in the resiliency that you have, and I'll try to get this study and send it on over to you, but that's where I started to notice how powerful gratitude is the Gratitude is an amplifier, it acts as a magnet. Whatever you focus it on it just grows. So if you focus it on, I am grateful for my health, guess that you're going to get healthier. I am grateful that I came out of a storm and I still have a beautiful heart, your hearts going to get even bigger and beautiful even bigger and more beautiful. So that's where I started to learn that gratitude is such a powerful tool and I still use it to this day. I'm going to use it until the day I die because I think that that's just one of the best healing tools that I came across in my journey.
Michael: Yeah, I love it. And I felt gratitude in my journal every day today, a row, I'm grateful for Community Connection and commitment. And I write that frequently because that's such a Cornerstone of what think Unbroken is, but Community plays, such a powerful role in this journey connection, such a powerful role commitment, such a powerful role. But in this we still face adversity, we still face, not only the adversity within ourselves that we kind of layout as tracks ahead of us, the adversity, from the world. People saying, how dare you, who do you think you are to talk about this? Keep the family Secret, The Family secret. You have the whole nine, right? How do you push through the adversity to be in this position to say, I'm going to have this conversation whether you like it or not.
Grace: Yeah, so that's a big thing, and that kind of circles back to choosing yourself, and I was told from many years do not talk about this, don't talk about. So, and so you're going to ruin their life and I'm like, wait, you almost ruined mine, and the only reason why it's existing is that someone in some way, ruined portions of your life and you didn't heal from them because you didn't talk about it and you went on to hurt me with it, right? So it goes back to you wanting to heal generational trauma, the only reason why it exists is that someone did not talk about it, and no one, put an end to it. And I came out of this storm and I did all of this healing and I realized that I now have a ton of courage because I was able to overcome what I did, but then I also developed a very strong voice for myself. And once I started releasing the voice and really letting go of the pain, like letting go, by the way, is not just, okay, not going to look at it, letting go is like, actually talking about it and physically letting it go from your body. And the more that you do that, you strengthen your voice, you strengthen your courage, you become fearless. And the more that we do that as the collective, we actually shed light onto these really dark subjects that no one wants to talk about, but only exist because no one's talking about. So in the face of adversity and like you said, it does come up. I mean, I recently had a family member reach out to me and at first I'm like, oh my gosh, what is going to happen? You know, I kind of went back to like a typical trauma and panic response, I'm like, oh my God, what is going to happen? What are they going to say? What are they going to do to me? And I took some deep breaths and I really grounded myself and who I am and what I'm going to do. And so who I am goes back to the identity, comes back to being resilient and having courage, and what I'm going to do is set it free so that I can help others set themselves free.
Unleashing the Power of Mindfulness: A Deep Dive into Habit Change and Self-Mastery with Dr. Jud Brewer
Michael: Very much so. And so, with that is, you know, people will say, well, my mom had this or my grandma had this, or my dad had this is, is there a reinforcement happening just in the way that we're using words around things like anxiety, depression, worry?
Dr. Jud: Absolutely. Yes. So, we can learn to be anxious from other people cuz they model it and we learn the most from the people that were around the most. And so often people will learn, they don't even know that they're learning, but they'll learn these subtle habits and that become not so subtle as they get older of worrying, you know, because they've learned it from family members, they've learned it from their communities, they've learned it from people that they've been around.
Michael: So, with your work and stepping into addiction, and now looking at this from this whole body, mind, spirit approach, for lack of a better way to phrase it. One of the things that I love that you talk about is like trigger behavior reward, and trying to navigate that loop. Can you go into that for us, dive into what that actually means and what people can do to understand their behavioral patterns a little bit better?
Dr. Jud: I'd be happy to. And so, you know, we talked a little bit about these positive and negative reinforcement mechanisms, right? These survival mechanisms, and that both of them are broken down into trigger behavior reward. And I think a reward can be a challenging concept for people ‘cause they're like, you know, worrying doesn't feel very rewarding. So sometimes it can be helpful to think about it in terms of trigger behavior result. And the behavior result relationship is really what drives a behavior, so from a scientific standpoint, this is called reward-based learning and it's called that for a specific reason, when a behavior is rewarding, we're gonna repeat it. if it's not rewarding, we're not gonna repeat it. And so often people focus on triggers like, oh, if I could just get avoid my triggers, you know, this won't be a problem, that's not actually how our brains work.
So, from the trigger behavior result a reward standpoint, the critical piece of that is looking to see what the behavior is and how rewarding it is. So, the more rewarding it is, the more likely we're we are to repeat it. And then when we repeat it enough, it can become a habit to the point where we don't even notice whether it's rewarding or not rewarding. Let's use a real-world example. So, you're saying back in the day you were smoking two packs a day. How old were you when you started smoking?
Michael: So, I started smoking weed at 12 but I started smoking cigarettes at 20.
Dr. Jud: Oh, okay. Interesting. So, when you started smoking weed is about the average age that most people start smoking cigarettes. Okay. And like in the studies that my lab is done, the average age of onsets around 13, and I saw a statistic recently it's like 90 or 95% of people have started smoking before they are 20, so, you're right within that window. And the reason I mentioned that is that, you know, cigarettes aren't advertised as like these tastes great. They're advertised by our peers as, Hey, you wanna be cool at school? You know, have smoke a joint, smoke a cigarette, whatever the cool kids are doing, or we do it as a way to rebel against our parents ‘cuz our parents say, Hey, you know, you can do whatever you want, just don't smoke. And of course, we're like, okay, I'm gonna smoke, of course. So, we do all of these things and we actually overcome all of the negative reinforcement that comes from nicotine because it is a toxic, right? So, the first time somebody smokes a cigarette, they actually feel nauseated because their body's saying, Dude, why are you putting toxin in me? You shouldn't be doing this, but we're like, but the cool at school is better than this negative feeling that I'm feeling from smoking the cigarette. So, we overcome it to the point where we become habituated and then ironically addicted to cigarettes. The reward piece is this composite reward, that's all based in context. It's not just the chemical, but then the chemicals themselves can reinforce the process. So, nicotine drives dopamine release and then, you know, the dopamine pathways are one of the main ways that we get addicted to any substance.
So, any substance like alcohol, nicotine, you know, heroin, cocaine, all of these things, stimulants, they all release or release dopamine or cause dopamine to increase in the synapsis in our brains. So, all of those feeds back and says, Hey, you know, do this again even when it's not, you know, initially rewarding and to the point where it becomes a habit, we're not even noticing all of the negative effects. Like we're not noticing that cigarettes taste like crap. So that's actually the first place that we have to start with breaking any habit or any addiction is really seeing what are we getting from this right now, so, we can actually tap into this reward-based learning system in our brain.
Michael: So, I recall a couple years ago sitting and listening to you go over this. And I had a thought and this thought felt a little bit more true after I had a conversation with, with Dr. Lembke who wrote dopamine nation, and recognized like, oh wait, maybe dopamine is actually the driving factor in pretty much all addiction. Right? It's kind of easy to say that. What I'm curious about though to what you just said is, you know, bringing that little bit of awareness around the reward or whatever the result is, when you are in that moment and I think this was my struggle, and I think this is probably the struggle for most people who face addiction is you're like, I know it's killing me, take a drug, I know it's killing me, take a drink. How do you navigate that aspect of it, because that's the place where I always would get stuck, especially in my mid-twenties, when I was starting my healing journey, I was like, oh my God, this cigarette makes me wanna throw up everywhere, but that's okay, I'll throw up later drag. So, how do you navigate that conversation in your head of like, I know this is really bad, but the habit of it is just pulling you back in?
Dr. Jud: Yeah, you're highlighting this critical aspect of human experience is that we think that we can think our way out of stuff, you know, we privilege the irony of the enlightenment where it totally screwed up humans. You know, you back at my wise say’s Bible scholar, and so, you know, she keeps pointing out there was all this great mystic spirituality and then the enlightenment came and killed it all, cuz everybody got stuck in their heads. So, whether you look at it from a religious perspective or a spiritual perspective, or just a human perspective, we privilege our thinking brains to our detriment. The way I think of it is our feeling bodies are much stronger than our thinking brain. Just to give you a concrete example, our prefrontal cortex, which is the seat of our cognitive control or thinking and planning brain, guess what happens when we get stressed? What is the first part of the brain that goes offline?
Michael: Thinking prefrontal cortex.
Dr. Jud: Yes. So, it's the youngest, it's the weakest part of our brain from an evolutionary perspective, we cannot trust it. What can we trust we can trust these more basic processes and the more basic processes, all feedback into our bodily sensations. When we're hungry, our stomach is gonna rumble and make us go get food. We can think, oh, I shouldn't eat. you know, anybody that's been on a diet, you can ask them how well that goes, especially when they're stressed out. You know, there's this saying I learned in this acronym, I learned in my addiction, psychiatry is halt when you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you're more vulnerable to relapse, right? So, we can't rely on this thinking and planning part of our brain, we can't rely on the cognitive control. And some neuroscientists and even philosophers would go as far as saying, control is an illusion. You know, so whether it's an illusion or not, we don't need to go there, what we can do is look at the science and say, well, how do we learn? What's the strongest part of our brain and how does that work? How can we tap into that? So, we can tell ourselves we can be sitting there taking a drag saying, yeah, I don't wanna get cancer or we're coughing, you know, you see people smoke a cigarette and then cough, where does that cough come from? Smoking cigarettes. Right. You know, so they're hacking up a lung as they're trying to get some more nicotine into their lungs. It's crazy. But the point there is, you know, we think that we can just tell ourselves to stop. Well, boy, would my outpatient practice be so much easier if I could just tell my patients to stop, you know, it'd be one visit. They come in, I wanna stop smoking. I'd just, you know, say stop smoking, you know, and then they'd stop. Stop overeating, stop worrying and then I could go find another job because all my patients would be cured, that's not how our brains work, you know, it's really about reward.
So, we've got it. You know, if we set up these habits through this reward-based learning system, why don't we tap into that to help people break habits and help them break out of addictions? So that's what I started testing in my clinic when I was struggling not only with anxiety, but helping my patients with addictions work with their addictions, because I'd learned all this, you know, cognitive therapy stuff in residency, like, you know, all this stuff where it's like, you gotta change your cognition.
No, you’re thinking brain's the last thing that's gonna help you out. You gotta start with the reward system, so that's what we started doing. And I started testing it in my lab and that's where I mentioned, we got five times a quit rates of gold standard treatment for smoking. I'd actually done a study earlier, I did it in residency, where we looked at mindfulness training as a way to help train people, to pay attention and tap into that reward system. We basically got better outcomes for alcohol and cocaine dependence, than gold standard treatment. When we did these physiologic stress measures people, they were able to not get as caught up in these personalized stressors, when they got mindfulness training as compared to cognitive training. So, you know, it's really about not getting stuck in this, you know, this hubris, this of like, oh, I can think my way out of this. No, if we could, nobody would have an issue with anything they just stopped.
Michael: It's actually a very valid point. And I love what you said about not being able to trust your prefrontal cortex in that moment and your brain in general, cuz I've been trying really evaluate the idea that you can't trust your brain over the last probably six or seven months, so it feels more new to me. And instead going like, can I trust my gut? Can I trust my intuition? Is that truly where understanding lives and exists. And so, with that, and I appreciate you what I feel like in that as confirmation, because I've really been on this for a while. What I'm wondering is what were some of the things that you were seeing, not only in your own anxiety, but in the research and the studies that you were doing that is tangible, that other people can apply to their life in perhaps a simple way?
Dr. Jud: Yeah. Well, after this decades of work, it gets simpler and simpler. You know, the more you learn, the more ACOMs razors really too, like the simplest possible explanations, usually the right one that has been true over and over and over. So, I started noticing this three-step process and I write about it in the unwinding anxiety book, but basically, it's about the basic ideas if we don't know how our minds work, we can't possibly work with them. So, the first step is being able to map our own habit loops like what's the trigger, what's the behavior, what's the result. If we can't see what the process is, we're gonna be stuck in it, we're gonna be, you know, tumbled by it. So that's actually pretty straightforward. And I have my patients do this at intake. I start listening for these things and then we map these processes out together, it takes 30 seconds. We even have a free habit map or the name we can download from. I think it's just maphabit.com where you can download this PDF, print it out and start mapping out your own habits.
The second step is a little more involved, but it's a critical piece, which is really tapping into this reward system in our brain. I'll give you an example and explain how this works. So, my lab just did a study with our EatRight now app, where we had people who were overeating. We basically put this what we call a craving tool into built it into the app so we could measure the reward value and help people pay attention to how rewarding or unrewarding the behavior was. And the idea is, if you don't see that something's unrewarding, you're gonna keep doing it. If you see that it's not rewarding, you get what in neuroscience is called a negative prediction error, cuz it's not as rewarding as you predicted as you expected and then you start to become disenchanted. You're like, you know, if somebody smokes a cigarette and I have them pay attention when they smoke and they realize that cigarettes taste like crap, they get that negative prediction, error. And so tangibly, I have patients in my clinic, pay attention when they smoke. I have patients who are overeating pay attention when they eat. And I have them mask themselves with each bite, is this more rewarding or less rewarding than the last bite? So, we did this study with this craving tool to eat right now, app. And we found, are you ready for this? It only takes 10 to 15 times of somebody really paying attention as they over eat for that reward value to drop below zero and for them to start changing their behavior. So, it doesn't take long, it just takes awareness. So, that's the second step, anybody can do that. They can pay attention when they're doing the behavior. And I have them simplify it to this, ask yourself a simple question. What am I getting from this? Right. Not thinking, what am I getting from this? But feeling, what am I getting from this? So, the folks in our study, they were feeling when they overeat, it doesn't feel good.
My patients in my clinic, they are tasting what cigarettes taste like cigarettes taste like crap, they start to become disenchanted with them. We just actually publish a study with our smoking app, same thing, you know, where people are, they're becoming disenchanted with the behavior simply by paying attention, so that's tangible that anybody can do that too.
The third step, I think of it as finding the bigger better offer.
So, if our brains are gonna do things that are rewarding and they're gonna stop doing things that are not rewarding, then let's give them something that's rewarding that's not just a substitution for what they just did. I've had plenty of patients who've come to me and said, you know, I quit cocaine, but I substituted exercise and now I over exercised, I'm addicted to exercise, right? The process itself is the problem. It's not certainly the substances can be problematic, but it's when we're caught in the process that those are problematic. I mean, cigarettes are never helpful, but it's not that that opioid themselves, you know, like taking a pain pill is gonna kill somebody. No, it's when somebody's addicted to that. So, we've gotta find that bigger, better offer. And so here. Often, people are taking substances, for example, because they've got these negative loops running in their heads about how they're a bad person or their life's awful. Often people have had really terrible life circumstances, they've had a troubling childhood or their current environment, there's something in there that says, Hey, this is bad I wanna make it go away. And they have that used that substance, they drink alcohol, they use opioids, they do whatever to make it go away. And that has been the biggest bestest offer that they've had so far, yet if they can pay attention and see, oh, this is really not serving me. And we can give them something that's more rewarding that doesn't have those negative consequences, then they win the game. So here, you know, with addiction, for example, it's finding connection. Right. That is so much more rewarding than running to mother's little helper or whatever the helper is, because that helper is only gonna help for a little bit and then it's gonna make us want more and more and more. And then we're chasing that on top of it.
So, kindness, for example, if we beat ourselves up, what is it like when we're kind to ourselves? What kindness feels better than judging ourselves? So there already is an intrinsic bigger better offer. If we're disconnected from community, from family, from friends, finding that connection is a really strong way and that a much bigger better offer. I would say that is the biggest best dis offer of all, is finding those things that are not only better than the substance or the behavior, but also rewarding and fulfilling and generative like where they pay it forward, when we're connected, everybody benefits from connection.
Unlocking the Science of Trauma: Neuropsychology, Neuroplasticity, and Healing with Dr. Mitra Ray
Michael: 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?
Psychiatrist / Neuroscientist / NYT best-selling author
Dr. Jud Brewer is a New York Times best-selling author, neuroscientist, addiction psychiatrist, and thought leader in the field of habit change. He is the director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, where he also serves as an associate professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the School of Public Health. He is the executive medical director of behavioral health at Sharecare, a digital health company and a research affiliate at MIT. Dr. Jud has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and anxiety. He is the author of “Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind” and “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits”.
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.
My name is Grace Juba and my platform is called “Breaking Free”.
It is based on my own personal story of overcoming the cycles and effects of domestic childhood abuse. It aims to empower others to overcome adversity and break free of ANYTHING that is holding them back. It inspires people to walk through their own healing journey so they, too, can create a beautiful life for themselves moving forward.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Here are some of my favorite recent guests!
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Today, you'll learn more about the foundational understanding of identity and beliefs and why we operate the way we do and look at how... See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/jonas-kaplan-how-neuroscience-impacts-your-beliefs-identity-and-self-narrative-mental-health-coach/#show-notes
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