Discover U Podcast with JD Kalmenson

Lisa Kring, LCSW; Mindfulness as a Tool for Psychological Healing

February 21, 2022 JD Kalmenson, CEO Montare Behavioral Health Season 2 Episode 4
Discover U Podcast with JD Kalmenson
Lisa Kring, LCSW; Mindfulness as a Tool for Psychological Healing
Show Notes Transcript

Montare Media presents Season 2, episode 4 of the Discover U Podcast: Mindfulness as a Tool for Psychological Healing

Think Mindfulness is sitting in the lotus position under a tree? It’s actually a very practical tool that can change your life!

Overeating? Addicted? Mindfulness might be our way out.

Feeling stuck in negative thought loops? Find out how Mindfulness can help.

JD Kalmenson interviews Lisa Kring, LCSW, to understand how Mindfulness practice can rewire the nervous system and support healing from various mental health issues.

Learn More about Montare Behavioral Health:

Lisa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been a practitioner of Vipassana mediation for over twenty years. She is a graduate of the Advanced Practitioner Program at Spirit Rock and is certified in trauma-sensitive mindfulness. As a Senior Teacher at Insight LA for over fifteen years, Lisa leads classes such as MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and Mindful Self-Compassion, is co-director of the “Insight Into Action” program, which offers support to non-profit organizations, and does trainings for parents, teachers, and students in schools throughout Los Angeles.  She has worked closely with the medical community, especially with cancer patients and their families, and she provides staff training in mindfulness at organizations such as Homeboy Industries, Hulu, ABC News, and Huffington Post to name a few.  

Host Kalmenson is the CEO/Founder of Renewal Health Group, a family of addiction treatment centers, and Montare Behavioral Health, a comprehensive brand of mental health treatment facilities in Southern California. Kalmenson is a Yale Chabad Scholar, a skilled facilitator, teacher, counselor, and speaker, who has provided chaplain services to prisons, local groups and remote villages throughout the world. His diverse experience as a rabbi, chaplain, and CEO has inspired his passion and deep understanding of the necessity for effective mental health treatment and long-term sobriety.


#mentalhealth, #anxiety, #mindfulness, #mindfulnessandaddiction, #depression, #addiction, #meditation, #stressreduction, #emotionalhealing, #emotionregulation

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JD Kalmenson, CEO Montare BH: Welcome to another episode of Discover U, our podcast exploring innovative and effective solutions to issues in mental and behavioral health. I'm JD Kalmenson, CEO of Montare Behavioral Health, a family of dynamic and comprehensive mental health treatment centers in Southern California. 

I'm so excited to introduce you to our delightful guest today, Lisa Kring, who is an expert in mindfulness, which is believed to be the fastest-growing healthcare trend in America. Lisa is a licensed clinical social worker and has been a practitioner of Vipassana meditation for over 20 years. She's a graduate of the Advanced Practitioner Program at Spirit Rock and is certified in trauma-sensitive mindfulness. 


As a senior teacher at InsightLA for over 15 years, Lisa leads classes, such as MBSR, and mindfulness, self-compassion. She's also the co-director of Insight into Action Program, which offers support to nonprofit organizations, and does trainings for parents, teachers and students in schools throughout Los Angeles. She's worked closely with the medical community, especially with cancer patients and their families. And she provides staff training in mindfulness at organizations such as Homeboy Industries, Hulu, ABC News, Huffington Post, just to name a few. Welcome, Lisa. So happy to have you with us today. 


Lisa Kring: I'm so happy to be here. Thank you. 


JD Kalmenson, CEO Montare BH: I am so excited to talk to you about mindfulness. It's a subject that is near and dear to my heart. But there's a report from the CDC that talks about meditation's popularity in the US. It has increased more than threefold over the past 5 years alone. And there's been a lot of research on its effectiveness as a healing tool for all types of mental and physical pain, trauma, addiction, and stress reduction. To start off, why do you think it's gained such popularity recently? Is because we live in such an increasingly fast-paced world, the collective ordeal of living through 2 years of pandemic? 


Lisa Kring: Yeah, I think this is a really great question. There's been, just even before the pandemic, if we step back just a little bit, there's been such rapid change in our lives in the human condition in the past 200 to 300 years. We've had the industrial age, really changed the way we live, the way we interact, the way our relationship with the natural world. Then we have the information age and then the digital age. And now, the virtual age. I mean, this is just... and the human brain basically, has not had enough time to catch up with all of these changes at all. Exponentially, they've just been faster and faster. 


And as a species, before all this rapid change, before all of these things happened, we really did use to be more anchored and grounded in the natural world and rhythms, in that, when the sun went down, what did we do? We went to sleep. There was no electricity. We worked with our hands more. We traveled more slowly. We lived actually more what we would call mindfully more embodied lives. And this has radically shifted so that we're no longer embodied in life. We're living from the neck up now.

And tragically, we're still operating quite literally from a kind of a Stone-Age brain that can't process any of this change fast enough, or address where we find ourselves now. We find ourselves now with the climate crisis. And it's a real direct expression of our disconnect from our own bodies and from the natural world, from an embodied state. 


Mindfulness, however, begins and actually increases and thickens the areas of the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain, it’s the more highly evolved part of the brain. Neurologically, the prefrontal cortex represents, it's the seat of our best selves. It relates to compassion, wisdom, engagement, to be in touch, to be receptive, to be flexible, to be creative right now. 


JD Kalmenson, CEO Montare BH: Right, right. So, you're saying that today, more than ever, we need it. 


Lisa Kring:  I would say that, with these last 2 years, with this increased awareness, I mean, we're really, really seeing the fragility of life. And we're seeing up close and feeling it in real time, the effects the climate crisis, political turmoil, and uncertainty and social injustice, inequities. And, boy, life is we thought we knew it is no longer.


JD: For sure.


Lisa Kring: And there’s so much collective uncertainty and trauma, folks are more flooded with anxiety and worry, and doubt than ever before. So, I think people are really searching for tools. 


JD: That makes so much sense. Yeah. That makes so much sense. 

I have found in my own life that the more mindfulness I have from the layman's perspective, the more awake I feel. It's almost like everything that I have is just more alive. Seeing things clearly, thinking things clearly, being able to make decisions faster. Is that how you experience mindfulness as an authority, as somebody who is such an expert on it. And is there a neurological basis for this as well?

Lisa: Yeah, I think that what you're saying is so universally true, that when people start to wake up in this way and become more present, more embodied, we're coming into our senses quite literally, we're tuning in to any moment and waking up into that in the full bloom, as we say, the full bloom of what's actually arising. And I would say that's how it feels for me too. In some ways it’s like waking up from a trance or a dream. I like the analogy that it goes from black and white to color or black and white to technic color. And I would add also that when we start to experience mindfulness associated with it is an experience of calm and so much less stress.

It's an experience of feeling stress free and in any moment, no matter what's happening.

JD: That's amazing.

Lisa: Yeah. So there's that component of wellbeing. 

JD: I don't know if this sounds crazy, but sometimes in this spirit and in the theme of what I was saying earlier and what you were referencing of being awake and alive, it's almost like when I'm more mindful, I'm tapping into a sort of awareness that creates a little bit of a divide between the things that are happening around me and the way I respond to them. So, what typically will happen when I'm not so mindful and I'm less awake with my mental faculties is that I'm just a lot more instinctively reactionary and responsive to the stimulus around me. But this mindfulness gives me a little bit of a nucleus. I don't want to say that it's like a divide between me and myself, but it gives me more empowerment to sort of assess the reality around me, the situation, the circumstance, the interaction, the decision with a sort of objectivity almost.

Lisa: Yeah, well, what's you're pointing to, and this is... It's moving from a more reactive mode into a more mindfully responsive mode. You can feel the difference. The other thing is that for mindfulness to be really operating there's the mind-body connection where in the present moment, the mind and body become unified in the present moment, but then also it's what you're talking about. And it can feel at first a little bit like a divide, but it's called metacognition. It's knowing that you're knowing. It's a quality of being aware as things are happening, it's like watching yourself as you're in it, but you're still in it. You're not disassociated. You're still deeply engaged. And so, there is that expansive awareness and it does give you the space, Viktor Frankl, said between the stimulus and the response, there is a space, and therein lies freedom and you begin to find that space. When you practice it more and more, you feel less self-conscious about it, and it feels more like a natural way of being in any moment. 

JD: I love that because when you talk about mindfulness in contemporary society, it's all about Zen and calmness and serenity, but you don't always draw the circle back to an empowerment of choice, where mindfulness enhances our ability and our liberty to make the choices that are truly in alignment with our integrity.

Lisa: It truly is about being in life as it's happening. It really should serve you in your life so that in that space of awareness, you can make wiser more skillful choices in any moment for yourself and for others and this becomes an experience of great inner mastery and inner empowerment, and you just suffer a lot less. 

JD: I love that. I love that. It reminds me about what my fourth-grade teacher once said that the difference between a wise man and a smart man is that a smart man can extricate himself from a problem that a wise man would never put himself into. So, the more mindful we are, we have a sense of this is probably something that is not aligned with my integrity and therefore to preclude a lot of problem solving later on, you have that clarity and that liberty and that choice, which is such a gift. I want to ask you about studies, scientific studies. In your experiences what studies do you actually see in the brain, neurologically speaking, that occurs during mindfulness practice?

Lisa: Well, there's a lot of studies. One just generally speaking, when they've done brain scans or EKGs, I guess you could say, of people while they're practicing mindfulness, is that the regions of the brain that are associated with positive states tend to be lit up or activated, whereas those parts or regions of the brain associated with negative states or stress, tend to go dark. So you can see that it really activates certain regions and parts of the brain that we associate with our better selves, I guess you could say. And I guess the most famous research on mindfulness that's really, I think, is driving a lot of the research that we are seeing now comes from Sara Lazar at Harvard. Have you heard of these studies at all?

JD: No. 

Lisa:  Her first study was on experienced meditators. And what she found in that study was that usually as we age, there's cognitive decline, and what they found in that study is that the longtime meditators did not have the cognitive decline of age. Now that's good news, isn't it? And so there's something about mindfulness that prevents aging in the brain. And then the other study that's the more famous study is one that she did in which she took mindfulness-based stress reduction as a class I'm certified to teach and I teach and it's considered the gold standard for what is a measure for mindfulness and studies.

And it's an eight-week class created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. What she did is she took a group of people that were taking the eight-week MBSR class, and she compared it to a group that were doing yoga as an intervention for stress.  And what she found in only eight weeks. This is quite radical I think, in only eight weeks, what she found is that the brain changed physically for those that were in the group of the MBSR class. How the brain changed physically is that the regions associated with stress, primarily the amygdala, the amygdala is, that kind of the brain stem, it's the alarm bell of the brain. It's that reactive part of the brain. It's that automatic more primitive part of the brain, that actually shrunk. And the regions in the prefrontal cortex, which is this part of the brain, it's the more evolved... The brain evolves from down to up like this. This is how it's evolved over time. So it's the more evolved parts of the brains, this gray matter actually thickened.

JD: Wow.

Lisa: So this is amazing to see it happening in only eight weeks and-

JD: Was that daily? Was that daily mindfulness?

Lisa: Yes. It involves daily practice. I think that what we understand now about neuroplasticity, what fires together, wires together, quite basically. And wherever you are placing your awareness, whatever thoughts that you are feeding that you are acting on, that shapes the brain physically. Now mindfulness in particular and I think that's why it's exploding, is that it is particularly profound in creating changes in the brain as pertains to neuroplasticity because in the present moment, you're actually shifting where you’re firing. You're choosing to place your awareness in more of a mind-body connection. And when we're more present in this way, we can really feel it and we feel better. And boy, it's physical. Our brain actually changes. And we learned to, as we were talking about before being less reactive, more responsive, that whole thing that we were just talking about, well, this really starts to happen physically in the brain. And what's exciting is that it becomes less what you do mindfulness and what you become.

JD: That's so beautiful, being versus doing. My question with mindfulness in some of the way the brain reacts to the mindfulness in such a quick, remarkably short time span of eight weeks, you can actually see the tangible impact on the brain, if one does not continue with those mindfulness practices, will the outcome be a reversal and a regression towards-

Lisa: They did studies where they continued to follow the people that took MBSR. And they showed that there was some decline, but that a lot of the changes remained. That's really interesting. Isn't it? 

JD: Well, it would make sense because it's organic as opposed to outwardly induced by some machine.

Lisa: I think also what's different about mindfulness-based interventions as opposed to... and I don't want to discredit any of those interventions, I think they all have such value. I think that there needs to be some integration into life so that the person has a sense of personal experience, what happens in MBSR, yes the brain changes, but I have to tell you, because I'm a teacher of it, I've been teaching it for many years, you cannot believe the transformation in people's lives.

JD: Right.

Lisa: And so the change becomes quite palpable and then they start living differently and that's what's reinforcing this a lot now.

JD: It's not just a perspective, but it's a perspective that actually becomes integrated with the decisions that you make with the quality of the relationships that you're fostering. And it's connected to your lifestyle, which perpetuates it. I want to just... Go ahead.

Lisa: Yeah. I want to say this, it's not an intervention. It's not a fix, it's a way of living.

JD: Right. Lifestyle. Exactly. I want to state the obvious, which is that today we need this more than ever. Imagine the farmers 200, 300 years ago, what life looked like then. The sole preoccupation or distraction would have been the people in your immediate orbit or the telegram that you receive or the letter in the mail once a week. But the fact that today we have on average hundreds or thousands of contacts and countless others who can call or text you at any given moment.

One of my big pet peeves is if somebody text me, and then 20 minutes later, there's like four question marks? So you're sort of accountable to society at large. Your attention is divvied up the amount of other methods of communication, email, social media.

So we need this in our lives in order to preserve and maintain our equilibrium, in order to take an active role in our life and not really be that reactionary responder to all the messages that we're bombarded with.

So I think that today everything that you're teaching and describing is not a luxury, but it's really a necessity.

Lisa: Yeah.

JD: Would you agree with that?

Lisa: I would agree.

JD: Yeah.

Lisa: It's profound, what you're describing, and I think that we are becoming disembodied and there's a real cost to that. There are consequences to that, to our health and wellbeing and to the way that we live, the way we respond to different things that are happening in the world. 

JD: In my view, and I'd love to get your take on this, human beings naturally have love.

We have the capacity to hate. We don't naturally hate. And I feel so strongly that the hate that we see in society today, the divisiveness, the division, the partisanship. A lot of the classes and social tension are induced by a lot of responsive and reactionary forces how we're dealing with COVID, how we're dealing with a lot of the issues.

And therefore what mindfulness really can help do is just bring us back to ourselves in which there's a lot of love and technology, despite its advancement and how close and small the world is and how much more power we have, it doesn't help on that front.

The quote I wanted to read, and it's a very famous quote, it's a Martin Luther King quote and it's relevant more today than ever just to read the two sentences of the quote he said, "Modern man has brought this whole world to an inspiring threshold of the future. He's reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He's produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He's built gigantic bridges to span the seas and buildings to kiss the skies."

And he goes on and on. He says, "In spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually."

And this is my favorite. He concludes, "We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers." 

Lisa: Well, I could listen to Martin Luther King all day long.

JD: But I think mindfulness helps address that when you talk about the prefrontal cortex being thicker and being the part of the brain that deals with meaning and purpose and what connects us. 

Lisa: Yes.

JD: So I'd love to get your take on how mindfulness can help those struggling with addiction who have essentially lost a little bit of that freedom of that choice to be able to divide the stimulus versus the response and interrupt that vicious cycle of just acting according to our habits that are not necessarily aligned with our integrity.

Lisa: Yeah. Well, this is a deep question. I'll say that just to keep this simple, and then addictions tend to be chronically grooved what we call habit loops. And habit loops are kind of, they just have these three main components. There's a trigger, there's a behavior, right, that's like some sort of behavior, and then there's a reward. And habit loops tend to form in maladaptive ways. You could take something like, well, an addiction to smoking or something like that. Just let's just say that, it's just kind of benign, we understand that.

The trigger is usually a stressor or pain or some discomfort in any moment. Right. And then of course, this habit loop gets reinforced because you smoke a cigarette. Now you do get a reward, you get a reward, but it's maladaptive and it's not lasting.

But because you haven't developed any skills to deal with the original trigger, that's all you have left. And in fact, it's trying to make you feel better. It has got some goodness behind it. It's just maladaptive, it's misdirected. And the bigger issue here is that there's no capacity to understand how to work with the original pain or the original stressor.

There's no capacity to be with the human condition is what I want to say for most people. And I would say that we're all addicted if we're honest. We're addicted to our own thoughts. We're addicted to all kinds of things, because we're not able to rest in the human condition with any degree of wisdom and love, as you were saying, compassion, understanding.

And so with mindfulness, there's a couple things, we're learning to be with the mind and to see the loops. To actually... Now this is the thing that mindfulness allows without judgment. It allows us to drop into the experience to know it while it's happening and to see for ourselves that wait a minute, I am getting that initial hit of nicotine, that does make me kind of numb me out, make me feel better. But you know what, it's not really helping me. It's an intuitive understanding and you start to go, "Whoa," and then you can step back in that knowing awareness that we were talking about, you can start to see the loop. You can step out of it a little bit. You're still in it. But you see it while it's happening. And if you have enough support to be able to kind of go, "Whoa," and you go, "Wait, that is not good."

And then there starts to become this process, but then, what mindfulness also allows, and this is the thing that a lot of therapies and different interventions don't, because you can't replace it with another behavior, because often that's just another crutch. So what it's really ultimately allowing us to begin to drop into is, it's beginning to feel and to know what that original thing was, to feel it enough to have enough capacity without judgment or without feeling like anything's wrong with you. To drop into the experience of what that stressor or that original pain may be.

And then finding ways to be with that with a lot more resiliency, with more choice. And so then once you start to know how to more skillfully and a more wholesome way, address that original pain or stress, the then the habit loops begin to lose their power. 

JD: Yes. That makes so much sense. So the mindfulness helps us not merely deal with the symptom of the issue, but ask ourselves at a far deeper level what is it about this trigger that is forcing me to do X, Y, and Z to get rid of this problem or this feeling, to find some physical relief, some mental relief. And that's really the only way to deal with an addiction.

So it's almost like not only does mindfulness help. It's hard to imagine somebody really getting rid of an addiction without adapting some of the technique of mindfulness, trying to understand what does this provide for me?

What need is it meeting in an unhealthy way that I could be meeting or I could be addressing in a healthy way. So I love what you said about that.

Lisa: Well, at the heart of it is being able like you were saying, you're not focusing on the behavior but feeling into the deeper suffering underneath it. And so there is a profoundly compassionate way of being with experiences. When you start to do this for yourself, you start to realize a lot of the things I'm doing that are causing me harm are actually maladaptive ways of how I'm coping with my suffering.

JD: Yes.

Lisa: And when you start to drop into the suffering with compassion, that's when transformation can take place. And then you can like you described with your child, when you have this capacity within yourself, you start to see others who are acting in really reactive and destructive ways. You start to see and understand why. And you can interact and respond in very different ways when you see things with eyes of compassion and understanding.

JD: Right. There's less judgment. There's more love.

Lisa: People are just suffering. Everyone's suffering.

JD: And toxic situations can just evaporate.

Lisa: Exactly.

JD: I've seen very angry people, almost at the brink of violence and the other person just responds with the hug, and they melt. And it's like, "Did that just happen," but-

Lisa: You know what, I think everyone just needs a hug.

JD: Yes. I could not agree more. Let me ask you, I mean, that is so beautiful with regards to our habits and our behaviors. I want to ask if that similarly applies with our thoughts. Meaning to say, what relationship would you say exists between mindfulness practice and cognitive behavioral therapy? Which is obviously one of the foremost powerful, effective therapeutic modalities today. So tell me a little bit about how to apply that within our own processing, within our own internal thinking processes.

Lisa: Well, for those who don't know what cognitive behavioral therapy is, it's really understanding thought loops and patterns that are undermining our wellbeing and our health and all kinds of things and getting in our own way and replacing them with more adaptive ones. And just to say that there's been such a shift and you probably know this already, JD that now I don't know anyone that's just practicing cognitive behavioral, almost everyone I know has shifted into mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy.

And that tends to be more the gold standard from what I see and what that allows I think it's what we've already kind of touched into is that yes, we start to have this metacognition meta-awareness. Now this is a radical thing to begin to see our thoughts and to know them. We tend to be so addicted and attached and identified and preoccupied with the content of our thoughts. It's like we're in a movie theater and we don't realize we're just watching a movie. We think that's our life. It allows us to suddenly have the moment, "Wait, I'm just watching a movie here. This is a movie in my mind. Oh, okay." And it allows for that step back to not only replace thoughts or begin to understand their impact on us, but to start to have a shift where we can begin to say, "What is the phenomenon of thinking, what is the nature of this, and is it reality?"

And this is a profound thing where we step out of the loop. With cognitive behavioral therapy and with the mind in the way that it tends to operate, it can be a closed virtual loop and we can be caught in that movie. Right?

JD: Right.

Lisa: In up our own making. Mindfulness allows us to get that meta awareness so we can see that we're in the loop. We can see we're in a movie theater. We begin to step away and see it. And we begin to say, "Wait a minute, is this crazy? Wait, maybe this thought has no substance." If I don't feed it, if I don't act on it, what happens? It goes the away. Where did it go? What was it? Was there anything there to begin with? How does it feel like if I don't feed it, if I don't act on it." See mindfulness allows for all of this exploration. And then I think what it does ultimately is it allows us to step out of the loop.

JD: That's so beautiful.

Lisa: This is the real experience of becoming free. I'll just say this, it's so interesting. Talk about breaking out of the loop. There's been research, there's a guy at Stanford, did these studies on thoughts? Do you what the percentage of thoughts are repetitive? Do you know what the percentage is?

JD: No.

Lisa: Take a guess. Your thoughts in your mind?

JD: What percentage are repetitive?  I'd say 60, 70%.

Lisa: It's 90%.

JD: Wow.

Lisa: And not only that, what percentage of those are negative?

JD: Is this a statistic about people as a whole?

Lisa: Well, no, this is the truth of thoughts. They tend to be 70% negative.

JD: Wow.

Lisa: And so they tend to really... They're a downward spiral. If we're only identified and lost in the mind loop, it's not going to be a happy experience.

JD: That's right. And I love what you're saying, because it reminds me of the newfound freedom being a captain of your own ship. There's a beautiful saying about the fact that ships don't sink from the water that surrounds them, ships sink from the water that gets inside them and weighs them down. So don't let the water that surrounds you get inside you. And that's where the mindfulness comes in. I mean, if you think about every individual who's achieved extraordinary success, the execution of their dreams, there was invariably many stages and phases along the way where they were met with rejection, where they were met with cynicism. And yet they managed to exude resilience, predicated on not identifying with that criticism, not allowing the water that's around them to get inside them. Creating that divide, that loop, even within the thoughts. So this is really the fundamentals of life, what you're describing in every domain.

Lisa: It comes back to that space where you can make a choice.

JD: That's right. That's right.

Lisa: And there's a Buddhist parable where the Buddhist is walking with some young monks and they come to a big boulder, it's kind of akin to your story about the water, but I like it a lot. And it pertains to the way we feed our thinking too, is that there's a big boulder and he says to them, "Is this heavy?" And they talk for a while and they go, "Yes, it is." And he goes, "Only if you pick it up."

JD: Hmm. I love that.

Lisa: So yes. It's like, it's not what's happening, mindfulness the great insight is it's not what's happening, it's how I am relating to it, how I'm choosing to respond.

JD: And that's what I'd love to ask you if you can share from your experience, some of the significant changes that you've seen in people in real life after learning to practice mindfulness.

Lisa: Well, it's a real joy. It's profound. And it's why I love to teach. Well, I would say that in general, what tends to happen is across the board there tends to be this shift in one's outlook of life. It just tends to brighten and tends to open up into more possibility, because I think it's this choice, this capacity to choose. And also when we become more present, we do drop out of what's called the default mode network that when we're on automatic pilot and that's the typical default mode of the mind it's been handed down through generations where in the future, in the past, most of the time, it's the way that we're wired. But when we deactivate the default mode network, when we actually drop into the present moment, we start to go, "Oh my goodness, you know what, it's not all bad, actually."

JD: Right.

Lisa: It's not really all bad. Yes, there are things that are bad, but because of the negativity bias, the tendency we're wired to worry will see that to the exclusion of all else. So what happens is you start to open to the full bloom of life and go, "Whoa, I can choose to focus on what's lovely right now, what's good."

I can choose to place my awareness there. And this really shifts everything. The other really dramatic and I would say, because I did teach... oh, it was a profound honor and a privilege to work with cancer patients for over 10 years.

And this was profound because I think, and on various levels, this happens with all groups, but with this group in particular, because the reality of impermanence was so profoundly apparent.

When you get a diagnosis of cancer, something like this, you realize that life is precious, that it's not going to last forever. And you really do wake up into how do I want to live? Am I living? What are my choices? Mary Oliver says, I love her poetry. I use her poetry a lot. She asks this question, "What would you like to do with your one wild and precious life?" And so this becomes something that... and they make all sorts of changes. You see their life transform from the inside out.

I do think that mindfulness too, because we haven't really pointed to this yet, it is about really deeply connecting and not being alone anymore.

JD: That's right. That's so beautiful. And it's-

Lisa: I think at the end of your life, it depends on what kind of work you do of course. But we often say did you say you wanted to work more? Did you regret not working enough? Or what really mattered?

JD: That's right.

Lisa: And I think that's where people start to draw up into the deeper meaning of life and they start to live.

JD: Yes. And talk about neurologically, that's when the prefrontal cortex becomes emboldened and becomes the predominant decision maker. 

Right. It also brings to mind the story about Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist inventor, who read about his own death in the obituary, because the papers had mistakenly assumed that when his brother died, it was he who died. And he was an inventor of dynamite. And the screaming headline read, "The merchant of death has died." And when he read that and he saw how he would be remembered, it was a real sort of paradigm shift moment for him, where he decided to take the rest of his life and change gears. He would like to be remembered for something else, he wanted to live differently. And that's when he took his resources and created the foundation, which would reward and celebrate human excellence and achievement, the Nobel Prize.

Lisa: I say amen to that. 

JD: Being alive, full circle, it's being awake. Thank you so very much, Lisa, for joining and for sharing your beautiful wisdom and the light that you're imparting. That was so great. 

How can folks out there hear more of that? Is there anywhere out there that they can listen to some more guided meditation exercises or mindfulness exercises?

Lisa: I happen to be a teacher on the mindfulness app called RoundGlass. And so you can find the app, you can go on your web browser, you can find the app on your phone and you can find my name there as one of the teachers.

And then there's a lot of guided meditations, some very short like that. It does illustrate I think that you don't have to go sit on meditational treat for many days.

JD: Right. It could be a part of your daily reality.

Lisa: You can just begin to have this intentionality in your life and you can start to feel the difference. That's the key. There should be benefit right away.

JD: Amazing, amazing. It's been such a pleasure having you with us today. Thank you so much, Lisa, for joining us on the Discover U podcast. We truly appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and the compassionate methods of treatment with us.

And thank you audience for joining us too. I hope you enjoy today's wonderful episode of Discover U. At Montare, we want you to know that you are not alone on your journey. For inspiration, you can find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and on Apple Podcasts. Wishing all of you a nurturing, inspiring and fulfilling day. See you next time.