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The New Year is about hope, this is the special time of year when we are allowed to press the reset button and start over. I know that 20/20 or the beginning of 2021 hasn't been what everyone is expecting, but now we can try and restart in February. So I'd like to invite you to join my 2021 reset and restart new habits for a new time. Five day program to register. Just go to Jayshree genius dot com forward slash new habits starting February 3rd.


I'll be meeting with you virtually for five consecutive days to give you the tools you need to create. The year you need together will meditate and set our intentions for the 2021 one. We want to have five days, five workshops, one fresh start. Let's say yes to starting 2021 with an open heart and open mind. It all starts with you. Go to Jedi genius dot com forward slash new habits to register today. Thank you and get excited for February 3rd.


Three out of five Americans say they feel misunderstood. They feel lonely, disconnected and left out. And the loneliness trend is rising with the highest levels of reported loneliness among millennials. And according to the Royal Society for Public Health, rates of anxiety and depression have increased 70 percent of the last 25 years. On one hand, those numbers are shocking. Yet on the other, this data probably comes as no real surprise when so many of us ourselves are experiencing bouts of isolation and insecurity, disconnection, fear and anxiety.


But as you may know, and as I've discussed on this show, so much of how we experience life is about our minds and our perception. That doesn't mean our fears and our worries aren't real. But so much of how we feel about them is something we can influence. Still, just knowing that's not helpful. If we don't have real concrete tools to change and shift our perception struggle is real, our problems are real, and yet our brains have a way of taking what we focus on and magnifying it even more.


And that makes our problems seem even worse. It makes it harder to find solutions from them.


Researchers took employees who work on creative tasks and analyze their work diaries, scanning more than 9000 entries. They discovered that the more pressure the employees were under to produce, the less creative they were. In another study, researchers showed a group of participants a clip of either the first 30 minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan or the first 30 minutes of Shrek. Then they had the participants do a word association exercise that was designed to see how creative they were.


You can probably guess how this ended up. Those who had just watched this stressful movie scenes performed worse on the task. When we're anxious, we don't handle stress as well. And that not only affects our performance and our creativity, it affects how we experience life, but how do we change that? There are loads of solutions out there and I've talked about a number of them here. But today we're going to look at how to change the problem at the source your brain.


I'm going to share with you three steps to actually literally rewiring your brain. So it's set up to support you to focus less on the feelings you don't want and more on the ones you do. If you've been listening regularly. And I hope you have and I so appreciate your time and your willingness to be here and share this space with me. But if you've been with me the last few Fridays, you know that we've been taking ideas and thoughts from my book, Think Like a Monk and going deeper.


Today, we're focusing on Chapter seven, which is all about the mind. And my inspiration for today's podcast comes from the following passage from the book. True Growth Involves Understanding the Mind. It is the filter judge and director of all our experiences, but we are not always of one mind. The more we can evaluate, understand, train and strengthen our relationship with the mind, the more successfully we can navigate our lives and overcome challenges.


I'm so excited because I love getting into science and data and marrying it with ancient wisdom. And today we're going to get into the actual brain science of how we can change our brains to support greater happiness and wholeness and resilience. And I'm going to tell you, you will be shocked at how simple it is. I know I was. And that's why I'm so excited to share this with you. These techniques are so accessible. You don't need any special equipment, apps or anything like that to do these things.


So let's get started. Now, maybe you've heard this idea before. What you focus on, you create more of for some of you that conjures the idea of manifesting for some of you, it's the idea of increasing your productivity. But the thing is, that idea can be a bit fuzzy. Right? It sounds good what you focus on. You create more of it. If I just focus on something. I one will appear or multiply, right, but some of you are like, gee, I could stare at this ten dollar bill all day long and it's not going to magically multiply, if only it were that easy.


And yet, in a way, some things are maybe don't magically making more money appear. But when it comes to the experiences we want to have in life and the feelings we want to feel, it turns out the saying is grounded in neuroscience and in ancient wisdom. Harvard researchers created an app that contacted volunteers at random intervals and asked them what they were doing, what they were thinking about and whether they were happy. It turns out that people's minds were not on the task at hand.


A massive 47 percent of the time. Instead, they were distracted and most of the time they were distracted. Volunteers said they were unhappy. One of the lead researchers said he thinks lack of attention to the present moment was actually the cause of respondents. High rates of unhappiness. Being fully present with whatever you're doing at the moment not only calms your mind, but also improves your mood. In a separate study, researchers looked at the brains of experienced meditators and non meditators while they followed the same meditation cues.


Imaging showed that those who'd been meditating longer showed less mind wandering. But don't worry, you can start to change your brain patterns relatively quickly so we know distraction can increase our agitation. And we know activities like meditation can decrease distraction and help us focus. But one of the missing pieces is we often don't talk about what to focus on, according to neuroscientists, long term meditators and best selling author Rick Hansen. If we understand how our brains work, we can shape how we experience our lives.


And that starts with understanding our negativity bias. Now, you may have heard me talk about negativity bias before. It's our brains tendency to focus on the negative, over the positive, like how will choose to read negative news headlines over positive ones. It's a holdover from our brains survival secretary, which is designed to keep us safe. Our brain is programmed to scan for threats, so its natural inclination is to pay more attention to the negative than the positive.


Hansen describes the brain as being like Velcro for bad experiences and Teflon for good. What tends to stick with us is the negative. If you think back on your life or even the last few months or weeks, what sticks out to you the most? Maybe it's confinement and restriction from the lockdown, stress from trying to make sure your kids are getting the support they need with their schooling's worries over your work and trying to balance everything. Chances are you've had some positive experience over the last few months as well.


But those aren't the ones that pop first rate. You may have to go digging around in your mind to even remember them. However, says Hansen, even though our brains are naturally wired to focus on the negative, we can change that. Don't worry, we're not going to totally dismantle our survival circuitry. We do need that. We want to be able to respond to actual threats, but we can train our brains to amplify more of the positive experiences in our lives.


The signs of how to do this comes down to something called neuroplasticity, which is essentially our brains ability to change. It allows us to learn. It's how meditation and other techniques for focus and compassion can actually rewire your brain. Neuroscience in ancient teachings agree that our minds shape our experiences. And as Hansen says, what we repeat and emphasize in our minds, revise our brain. Looking at monks, for example, scientists can actually see how their brains are wired for greater peace, happiness and compassion.


On the flip side, sadly, scientists can also see how things like exposure to violence rewire our brains to make us even more sensitive to potential threats, which can not only keep us in more fearful states, but can also negatively impact our physical health. Repeated exposure changes your experience of life. And if, like most of us, you're not aware or consciously directing what your brain is focusing on because of our negativity bias, your brain is often looping negativity.


It happens every time you fixate or ruminate on a challenge or in a fight you hide or a memory of feeling of left out rejected. It's like putting a negativity filter on your brain and then making that filter stronger and stronger. By now you're probably like, I get it, but how do I change it? How we change this pattern in our brains is to focus on what we want more of. But don't worry, this goes way beyond just positive thinking.


And as researchers at Stanford have pointed out, simply trying to change your thoughts to be more positive can actually have negative effects. What we need to do, as Hansen says, is to use not just our minds, but also our bodies to emphasize the experiences we want more of in our lives. The Buddha once wrote, There's one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practice, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening.


And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body. So often when we talk about mindfulness meditation, we think of it as well, something we think of, we don't pay a lot of attention to our bodies. But Hansen says using our bodies is a critical component to changing our brains. I love music, right? Lots of you do, too. I like to think of our bodies like a stereo and by body, I'm including your brain.


Lots of scientists say it's really impossible to separate the brain and mind from the body in any real way because they are so elaborately connected in ways we don't even fully understand yet. So if your whole body is a stereo, your mind is the receiver. You can choose to tune into experiences and feelings you want to focus on and feel more of your body and all of the sensations it can feel at the speakers, which can help you amplify the experiences if it doesn't make sense.


Stay with me. When we said the channel and what we want to experience, more of joy, connection, meaning, purpose, and we use our body to turn up the volume on those experiences. We change our brains. We can also turn down the volume on undesired brain states by turning the channel or detaching. It's like changing the presets on your tuna from negative channels to more positive and powerful ones. And here's how we do that. And this is going to sound deceptively simple, but it really works when you have a moment that you feel like this is it, this is what I want more of.


You extend its duration and its intensity. If you are tuning a stereo, you would get to that channel where suddenly finding a song you love and you stop and stay there.


Right. And if you really like it, you turn up the volume. This is just like that. Say you're standing at the kitchen counter and you're working away on your laptop because that's what a lot of us are doing right now. Your office is like the corner of a table or a counter. It's your feeling that stress and then your partner comes to you and gives you a hug or you open an email. And it's a compliment from a co-worker on that report.


Or maybe you're on a zoom call and someone says, you're really funny. Stop right there. Resist the urge to change the channel. As humans, we do a lot of flicking around from one thing to the next. But when you find this feeling in this song you love, stay where you are, stay there. You notice the amazing feeling of that hug or you notice that sense of recognition with the compliment from your co-worker or you notice how much you need a laugh.


As Hansen says, we want to identify and underscore that feeling. Freeze frame right there. That's something I want to feel more of when we identify and recognize what we're experiencing as something we want to feel more of. We then deepen that feeling and extend the length of time we feel it. Instead of moving out of the hug of clicking onto the next email or stopping the laughter and shifting back to the task at hand. Stay with it. Now, this doesn't have to mean it becomes a five minute hug.


Staying with it can mean just seconds longer than you normally would, because, again, our tendency is to switch channels really quickly. Right. Instead, just stay there and listen to the whole song.


We also increased the intensity of the song by turning up the volume and how do you do that is we connect the experience with our bodies. We notice all of the sensations we're feeling our partners arms wrapped around us. Our heart's beating together, our breath, maybe the touch of their hair against your cheek or the pride we feel that imal the way our heart seems to swell with the lift in our posture and the lightening of the load of stress or the effervescence of laughter.


How you sit back in your chair and your head tilts back as you laugh, deepens and the bubbling up of joy and connection in your chest. When we connect with our brains and our bodies, we get incredibly powerful result. Researchers took a group of people and trained them in a mental exercise about exercising, that is, they train them how to think about exercising their calf muscles. They didn't actually work out for five times a day. Over four weeks, the study participants just imagined exercising their calf muscles.


One even managed a 39 percent increase in strength, though most were closer to eight percent. That's the power of the mind. Imagine when you combine actual exercise with mental presence and focus. That's what this amplifying technique does with your brain. Remember, the reverse is also true and we get stuck on a negative channel and we amplify that experience, rewire our brains to more deeply focus on negativity. Here's an incredible story about the power of what we choose to focus on.


As a young man growing up in Austria long before he became a monk brother David Stindl, Rost was conscripted into the military during World War Two to fight on the side of the Nazis. Fortunately, he never ended up in a situation where he was responsible for harming anyone. But while he was experiencing it, he had no idea what was to come. When talking about how he got through the ordeal, which included literally watching friends and family die. One of the worst things we can imagine, he says, absolute presence was the key.


Stindl, Ross wrote, We only attended to what needed to be done moment by moment. In his autobiography, he describes this time in his life as years of utmost aliveness because he and his loved ones were forced to live so firmly in the present as their means of holding onto hope. And that aliveness they felt in those moments allowed them to experience joy in spite of perhaps the biggest horror all around them. Even in the midst of war, it all boiled down to bringing full attention to what was in front of them and amplifying the positive experiences.


It wasn't about pretending or ignoring what was going on. It was about taking each of those small moments of beauty and connection and extending and intensifying their focus on them. That's how they survived emotionally. Rick Hansen points out something that this story illustrates, that we don't only need to focus on joyful experiences or experiences of connection if we want to expend more of a sense of resilience in our lives. For example, we can stop the channel on moments when we are aware of making progress in spite of challenge.


Like when you finish that one piece of a long or tough project you're working on and you let yourself hold onto and amplify that feeling for a moment.


Artist Georgia O'Keeffe was known for her unique eye for detail, portraying everyday subjects such as flowers and landscapes in new and remarkable ways. O'Keefe once recalled the time in an art class when an instructor taught her the difference between looking and seeing. He held up a flower called a jack in the pulpit and pointed out shadows, contrast and all kinds of other aspects she had never noticed before. It forever changed the way O'Keefe saw the world and she wrote later in life.


Still, in a way, nobody sees a flower. Really. It is so small we haven't the time. And to see it takes time. Hanson says our minds essentially have hundreds of trillions of microprocessors in it. That's a lot of power we can harness to create the life we want to experience. As monks say, our senses are responsible for our desires and attachments, and they pull us in the direction of impulsivity, passion and pleasure. There's a quote from the Upanishads, which is an ancient Vedic text.


Beyond the senses are there objects? Beyond the objects is the mind of beyond the mind, is the intellect. Beyond the intellect. Is the great self monks', calm and direct our senses in order to calm and direct our mind. And that's something you know how to do. Try it for just a few days and see what happens. And let me know. I'd love to hear from you. Tagami on Instagram at Jayshree and I can't wait to read how you learn to amplify, extend and emphasize these beautiful, deep, powerful moments.


Thanks for listening. This podcast was produced by Dust Light Productions, our executive producer from Dust lt is Moesha Youcef. Our senior producer is Julianna Bradley. Our associate producer is Jacqueline Castillo. Valentino Rivera is our engineer. Our music is from Blue Dot Sessions and special thanks to Rachel Garcia, the dust like development and operations coordinator.