The unknown is always scary but by learning the skills of mindfulness you can be excited instead of fearful of the uncertainty of your future. Julianna Raye explains how concentration power, sensory clarity and equanimity are skills that can be learned in many ways -- not just through meditation. Our brain uses our habitual ways of seeing how the world works to stabilize us during times of stress, anxiety, worry, etc. Julianna explains how mindfulness skills allow your brain to create the same stabilization but with tools that free up your energy for more fulfilling endeavors.
Julianna Raye's Bio
As CEO, lead content developer and head trainer at UnifiedMindfulness.com, Julianna is devoted to deepening people's understanding of research-supported mindfulness and empowering anyone to guide others in its practice. She has trained individuals, groups, and
organizations in the practice of mindfulness for two decades and she developed the official teacher training program for the Unified Mindfulness system, designed by Shinzen young.
With more than 150 weeks of immersive silent retreat training in both the mindfulness and Zen traditions, Julianna has completed over 20,000 hours of formal practice. Her brain has been studied in neuroscience labs at Vanderbilt, UNM, and UCLA. She also designed and led the training for a workplace research study which was carried out under noted mindfulness
researcher David Creswell out of Carnegie Mellon University. That study showed positive outcomes for improved employee well-being and lower stress. Julianna co-authored papers from the study published in two prominent science journals: Mindfulness, and the Journal of
Occupational Health Psychology. A novel aspect of the protocol was an emphasis on the application of mindfulness techniques in daily life, which is a strength of the Unified Mindfulness approach.
Stephen Christopher 0:00
Okay. All right, everybody. Hey, how's it going today Stephen Christopher with my awesome co host, Laura Sanchez, and welcome to today's episode of the exciting, unknown podcast. So I know I always say that we have an absolutely amazing guest for you. And today we have an even more absolutely amazing guest for you today and somebody that I have learned from for, geez, I don't know, many, many years, probably between five and 10 years when it comes to mindfulness and meditation. This is the person who taught me a huge majority of what I know and got me into it. And so today we have Juliana Ray. She is the CEO of unified mindfulness comm which has trained 10s of thousands of people I know they just recently did a live event and they had over 10,000 people. I mean, this is absolutely craziness. She is one of the leaders when it comes to mindfulness meditation leading the charge on changing The world through mindfulness. And one of the coolest things that I Well, one of the many cool things about her is that she's spent over 150 weeks in immersive silent retreats. So just take a second to think about that. How much time have you spent in the last month or the last 12 months and silence, and it's probably not very much. And so, and she has spent over 150 weeks in silence. And we're going to talk a lot more about this. But it's really cool. What we can learn when we actually quiet our mind a little bit and start listening to our intuition, our emotions and not not reacting to situations but instead responding to situations and so I could not ask for a more perfect teacher on this than Juliana. So Juliana, welcome to the podcast.
Unknown Speaker 1:55
I'm so happy to be here. Stephens gonna be fun. Oh, yeah. Do it. Yeah.
Stephen Christopher 2:00
Awesome, cool. Yeah, let's let's just get right in. So mindfulness, right, it's this big topic that everybody hears about now. And meditation, people are starting to, I think, at least in my opinion, people are starting to become more open to being mindful and meditating. But I still think that people aren't quite sure how they're, if they're doing it right. How to do it, or what the what it exactly means. So I don't know. Talk to me for a minute, just based on your whole experience. I mean, what is mindfulness?
Unknown Speaker 2:38
Yeah, that's a great question. We need to start there, because one of the hardest things to do is actually adopt a practice when you don't really get what it is how to do it, why to do it. So it's really important to have clarity around that. And that's one thing I love about unified mindfulness is there's a level of precision and clarity. So there's lots of different ways to talk about it. The way we like to talk about it is that it's a set of attention skills, concentration, power, sensory clarity and equanimity. And we define what all those skills are, we could say that it's that, that skill set, working together is what we call mindfulness. So you know, you're being mindful when simultaneously you've got concentration, sensory clarity and equanimity. And the reason that's helpful, is suddenly you understand, oh, okay, it's about my attention. And then also, there's a level of skillfulness of attention. And then there's a specificity around exactly what qualifies as skillful attention. It's these three skills. And then there's an understanding that you can intentionally develop these three skills. So packed into that definition is a lot of really useful information for people about the fact that mindfulness is Practice a training for your attention. And that you can work out your attention in particular ways the same way you would work out your body. And that you can rely on outcomes as a result of working out your attention in those specific ways. So suddenly, this thing that seems kind of mysterious you sit down, maybe you try to meditate, you close your eyes. And by the way, the relationship between meditation and mindfulness, Another common question, the way we put it, and of course, there's only one way to understand it, but I happen to like it because it's super clear. You could think of meditation as being rica think of the mindfulness skills as being what you can develop when you practice meditation. So when people are meditating, they are developing these skills, but oftentimes, that's not made clear in the instructions. And so that leads to a lot of confusion and uncertainty Also on the flip side, if you only think you can develop those skills while you're meditating, and you only think of meditation as this thing you do while you're seated in silence with your eyes closed, that really limits your opportunity to develop those skills. However, did you understand that that skill development can happen all throughout your day, that really opens up your opportunity to develop the skills that you develop when you're meditating throughout the rest of your life. And that then enhances the benefits that you get from that. So it's really helpful to understand that relationship between meditation and mindfulness as well. Then you start to see like, Oh, this is something I can dive into deeper with a confidence, the same confidence I have when I walk into a gym and know that if I spend the time and I put in the effort, I'm going to change my physique. So it's really that clear and practical. straightforward.
Stephen Christopher 6:01
Yeah, I mean, you taught me how to practice mindfulness and meditation while driving. Which, at first, I was like, wait, this sounds really dangerous. I don't think that. But yeah, you taught me how to how to use these skills of mindfulness throughout my day, to hone that skill and build that muscle. And it's it. I mean, I still use, I still use it almost every day.
Unknown Speaker 6:27
And if you think of meditation as something you have to do with your eyes closed, that's not going to work out so well when you're driving, right? But if you understand that meditation develops a set of attention skills, and those attention skills can be developed while you're driving. Then it becomes about how do I drive safely. I want to apply my skills, my attention skills, so I DRIVE SAFELY, and that's perfectly logical.
Stephen Christopher 6:53
So I want to, here's something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, and I'm super glad that we get to talk about this. So I've been thinking A lot about awareness. And, you know, just general awareness throughout the day, right? So basically awareness of Am I present? Or am I not present? And, you know, am I where am I aware about what I'm thinking about? Or am I just running some sort of a program. And as I continue to hone this, what I'm finding is when I am being more aware, and I am being more present, that I'm able to use things like, like my emotions and my intuition as a guide, whereas if I'm not being aware, I can't, you know, I'm off somewhere else, right. And so, I was thinking about this the other day, and I would love to see where this might go. If I could, if you could inject people with one skill, right? Like if you could just walk up behind people with a syringe and be like, I'm going to inject you with a skill. What would that be? Somebody asked me this question. And I thought about it for a couple days. And you know, first I was like, Oh, well, maybe it's motivation or maybe It's inspiration or maybe it's, you know, some sort of a technical skill. Or maybe it's the ability to love. But as I thought more about it, I was like, you know what it would be awareness, I would inject people with awareness, the ability to comprehend or be aware of what it is that they're thinking about, so that then they can open the gateway to all these other things like intuition and emotional intelligence, stuff like that. Well, I'll stop there and see, see where that goes. But I mean,
Unknown Speaker 8:28
I think you know what I'm gonna say.
Unknown Speaker 8:31
I'm gonna say that what you're calling awareness is what I'm referring to as attention. I'm going to say that those are synonyms. And I'm going to say that the attention skills of concentration, clarity and equanimity are what yield that kind of heightened awareness that you're talking about. What What does it mean to be present? It means that you have the ability to focus on what you choose, right? You're not distractible, you're not getting ganked around. Like a pinball, by your attention, right? So one way to think about what it means to be present is that you have the capacity to be fully absorbed with your attention in the moment. Um, one way to think about what it means to be present is that when we're present, we notice nuances. You talked about intuition earlier, we noticed details about our experience that are really relevant whispers that we often overlook a lot of times, you know, when we make a bad decision, whether it's a business decision or romantic decision, whatever, we look back and we say, you know, I had a feeling but I didn't listen to that feeling. So what happens to not listen to that feeling? I would say that it's an absence of this skill of sensory clarity that when your skill of sensory clarity is heightened, you're better able to notice those subtleties that can really mean the difference between making a bad decision for yourself or making the right decision for yourself just for example. So being present means being able to detect subtleties in your experience that are giving you really useful information that you don't want to overlook. Another way to think about the advantage of sensory clarity is that it helps you disentangle when things are covering over the the intuition that's there. So, you know, why did I make that bad decision? Usually, it's because I was afraid because of X, Y, and Z. And I had talked myself and I convinced myself to follow that path because of my fear. And I didn't even realize that my fear was entangled with my thinking. And that was that was pushing me down this path to make that bad decision. So when you understand how to disentangle Oh, there's just fear happening right now. And it's getting attached to these thoughts. And these thoughts are XYZ Then you don't have to buy into the thinking you don't have to buy into the fear and fear can still be there. But you're in a much better position to not get pulled down that rabbit hole, which happens when these, these sensory ingredients combined in ways we're not aware of. So sensory clarity is our ability to disentangle those ingredients and also to notice subtleties. And then being present would also include some level of, you know, often we talk about, there's an effortless ease about being present. There's a sense of harmonious miss about being present. And we can think of this third skill of equanimity in terms of that, that without realizing it, we have all these little tensions in our body in mind. So just for example, going back to the the fear, like Oh, if I don't make this decision, it could really hurt my job prospects. Let's just say you have that thought come up in your head and you feel the fear. And you go down a track that you then regret later on that you should have just stood your ground. Maybe, you know, you wanted to ask for a raise or something like that, but you were worried that if you asked for it, you might risk your job or what have you. So, um,
Unknown Speaker 12:21
what we don't realize is that when we're unconsciously driven by that particular routine, whatever it is, in this case, it's Oh, if I don't do this, then I'm gonna, you know, lose my job or something. Um, that is a kind of a tinge of tension that's happening in our sensory in our perceptual system. It's like, enough that's happening in our perceptual system that we're, we that takes up a lot of energy and space in our focus, right? We get preoccupied with it, we get worried blah, blah, and then it reinforces itself, but when we disentangle those moving parts that were reduces our sense of overwhelm and that not untangles, and when not not untangles, it frees up the energy that was bound up in that kind of thinking we're not, we don't have to spend our energy being preoccupied about Oh, what happens if I say or do the wrong thing? I'm going to get fired here and then what will happen? How will I pay my rent and right so we go down a rabbit hole with thinking that adds a kind of a friction to our perceptual system, attention to friction. And what equanimity does is it helps you reduce that friction in your sensory system. So your sensory system operates more efficiently so the energy in it isn't wasted down these rabbit holes of preoccupied thinking that that are that's not getting you anywhere productive. So being present when we think about what it means to be present, of course, that preoccupied rabbit hole type of thinking, that's not part of what we think of when we think of being present. So I would say, what's missing then what's or how is it that we get to this place where the preoccupied rabbit hole type thinking isn't happening. That's that skill of equanimity that we have reduced. That friction in our sensory system. It can also show up physically to we can be physically tense unnecessarily tense up around a pain, for instance, and the idea there is that you're going to contain the pain, but the truth is that it just wears you down. Whereas if you relax around the pain, there's a temporary spike maybe in the intensity of it, but then it dissipates It, it, it can spread and release. So and that reduces the friction overall. Whereas if you keep fighting with the pain, if you keep fighting with the discomfort, you're adding to the friction of your perceptual system in it. It makes things harder, you're actually making things harder for yourself. So these three abilities, the ability to get absorbed, fully absorbed. In the your present moment experience, whatever that is your ability to notice subtle details about your present moment experience, your ability to remove any friction that interferes with your experience of the moment. You could say that's those are the skills operating together. We call that being present and having heightened awareness. And then awareness can happen on a continuum. So we could say that being present is right now I'm talking with you, you're engaged, you're listening to me, right? We're absorbed in this conversation. Right now, we're exhibiting these heightened skill states as we're talking. We can even go further with these heightened skill states. And when we start to do that interesting things happen, what we consider ordinary life starts to be extraordinary. And that's kind of the aim of this practice is that you discover that our potential for developing These skills is practically limitless. As long as we're alive, we have the potential to be developing these skills. And the outcomes can be profoundly surprising. What was once upon a time ordinary for me 23 years ago before, I didn't do any of those many retreats. And the reason I do silent retreats, by the way, is because it's a great training ground for these skills. And that's it. But your whole life can be a training ground for these skills. But what I called ordinary 23 years ago, was flat out miserable, flat out miserable. And that was what I knew as ordinary back then.
Stephen Christopher 16:40
So go a little bit further into that. What do you mean what you thought was ordinary was this before you started practicing?
Unknown Speaker 16:48
Stephen Christopher 16:49
And this was like, this was the extremely stressed part of your life where it well let's Yeah, let's talk about this because I think that's where a lot of people are right. A lot of people The world right now are in this heightened state of stress. And when we hear things like the President can be ease and feel effortless, it feels too. It feels too easy, right? It feels like Whoo, mumbo jumbo to a lot of people. And it did. I think innately I knew for a long time that there was something there, but it didn't feel right. Like I almost feel guilty for doing something that's easy. That's getting an even better result than people around me that are efforting. And that are stressed. And I mean, we live in this world of, you know, hustle and drive and grind and we're starting to see it fall off a little bit. But let's talk about that portion like the old stress portion that you thought was normal.
Unknown Speaker 17:48
Yeah, absolutely. And I'll say too, that a lot of our stress is chasing our own tale. This practice, I don't mean to portray it. As simply easy, the fact is, if you really want to climb that mountain and have real transformation, you're going to have to face incredible pain. But the difference is that you know how to face it, you have skillful attention so that when you face it, you can change it, you can transform it rather than getting caught in it stuck in it, or needing to run away from it. So we are learning to face the challenges of life, but in a way that is productive and effective. So that that's a little context there. When I 23 years ago, I didn't have these skills. I didn't know how to face the conditions, and I had a lot of built up unhealthy thinking about the way things worked, and I was bought in So, you know, I had a lot of ideas about how people were treating me and how what I deserved or didn't deserve. I was severely depressed as a result of my thinking that, you know, I'm trying to think of a more tangible example. But simply, well, I would, there was a phase in my life where I would wake up in the morning and be in so much pain, psychologically, be so miserable, and confused about why that was, I had no idea why I was miserable. And so I would wake up in the morning, and I would just think about ways to end my life. That's how I would wake up in the morning because I was in so much pain. That was all I could think of was how can I get out of this? I don't even understand why it's so horrible. I just know that I feel horrible. I want this to end and I don't know what else to do about it. So it wasn't until years later, when I had some practice under my belt that I could look back and say, Oh, that was because I was basically beating myself up on the inside because of how I was interpreting my world and experience. I didn't realize it. But I had a habitual way of understanding the way the world works. I'll say I mean, I think even right now we look at what's happening culturally with,
Unknown Speaker 20:36
you know, what we're being asked to do, let's say, around the masks and what have you. And I'm not going to get into a debate about the right or wrong of it. I'm just going to simply say that people are developing a lot of ideas around it and that those ideas come from a very painful place a lot of times, and that we are then those ideas are getting reinforced And that can create suffering for ourselves regardless of what we need to do, or what's going to happen in the future. We're creating a lot of undue stress and suffering within ourselves because of how we're choosing to interpret information. So we can't necessarily do anything about the externals all the time, we can certainly take action as we see fit to try to change things to inform people or to take action in various other ways to educate. But at a certain point, we have to take care of ourselves first, so that we're feeling okay internally, to be able to then do what we need to do externally. So that's what dawned on me when I was waking up every morning feeling like I needed to end my life. I knew I needed to do something. I just couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. And I was trying medication, and I was trying therapy and it was only just doing This much, you know, it wasn't really doing what I knew I needed it to do. And it wasn't until I found this training that I saw a way out. So the ease that I'm talking about the effortlessness for me, personally very hard one, very hard one, I had a lot of pain to go through. Not everybody has that not everybody was starting at the same set point that I was starting out with the level of misery that I was at. That's what I needed. I needed that level of desperation to be motivated to take it seriously. Hopefully, other people don't need that. But I will say that this time, you look around and people are really struggling, like you said, with stress. So my hope is we're being forced to stay inside. Maybe this is an opportunity for people to go inward and do some of that work that can fortify you, so that then when you go back when everything returns to whatever kind of normalcy it returns to that We are fortified now from the inside out to be able to face whatever life is handing us. That's my great wish for everyone.
Stephen Christopher 23:08
Yeah, I mean, with all the controversy stuff that we're dealing with right now, it feels to me and I'd love your opinion on this. It feels to me like people are, you know, they're desiring something, right? They're desiring a connection, a heightened experience a heightened feeling, and they don't know where else to get it. And so they attach it to whatever is, I don't know, biggest in front of them. Like, for example, wearing a mask like, yeah, I'm not gonna get it. We don't have to talk about that piece of it, which, but when I think about it, like, it's not really that big of a deal for me to wear a mask. So I just don't really care that much. And I just let it go. And I just don't get involved in it right. And I don't let it impact me. But I think people around some of these things. It's like they're just desiring to feel something and so they're there. grabbing on to something like it does.
Unknown Speaker 24:03
Yeah, I mean, I think that what can happen is and we all do it in all sorts of ways, right? So we're using this mask example. But I want to point out, you know, we're all getting caught in the ways we get caught including me. I my part two is that the mask is not an area I get hooked either. But I can certainly have from having had experience where I get hooked mentally on my own stuff, I know, generically, what it means to get hooked on anything. So let's make sure we're clear that this is we're talking about a generic process that happens to every human being, we get hooked and we missed direct anxiety for instance. So um, we get a ping of that fight flight freeze reaction, right which is Something that served us once upon a time when we were being chased by tigers. Right. But now, in the modern world, there aren't any clear Tigers that are chasing us, right. So however, that fight flight freeze mechanism still kicks off. And in fact, it can kick off just by virtue of our imagination. So our thinking can trigger fight flight freeze reaction, that fight flight freeze reaction will take us down a rabbit hole of further thinking about the mask or about anything else. And that dynamic is something we're not aware of. It is so convincing. It is so true, whatever ideas I have, are so compelling
Unknown Speaker 25:47
Unknown Speaker 25:49
that my life is at stake and your life is at stake. And of course, it's pretty confusing when you're in the middle of a pandemic or a once in a lifetime, worldwide event. people's lives are at stake, right? That really ups the ante. So there's a lot of confusion that happens, that we're not aware of what's really driving our thinking. And when we're able to break it down and deconstruct it and see Oh, right. I'm feeling really anxious right now I'm feeling really activated. I'm feeling fearful and shaky and nervous and whatever it might be. And so therefore, the thoughts I'm having are going to be distorted by my fearful thinking, right? To start to see that relationship. It infuses a little bit of choice where there wasn't choice before. And it helps you kind of say, Okay, wait a minute, do I really want to invest a lot of energy in this thinking or not? Let me take, let me take a moment to consider that let me back off of this. And just be a little bit more open here to consider my options. And then maybe you've Find No You know what, this really is important to me for X, Y or Z reason. But you might also find, you know what, I'm just freaked out right now. And I need to find a way to self soothe, and I need to get to the other side of it. So I don't waste my time and energy on things that aren't productive. So, yeah, I was just
Stephen Christopher 27:22
gonna say, you know, it's similar to a lot of our audience. You know, one of the things that we're trying to understand is figuring out what's next. What's next for some of us, whether you've sold your company, whether you are trying to make major changes in your life, and you know, you know, I'm not happy, I don't like what I'm doing. I'm not fulfilled. But we don't know what to do next. And I think sometimes we might know really what to do next, but we won't let ourselves go there because of that, those old habits right of like, well, if I'm If I don't own my own business anymore, if I'm not X, Y, or Z, I'm not going to be respected. I'm not gonna get to people aren't gonna think I'm successful. I'm not going to get all these other trappings that we've associated with that. That's kind of the same thing we're talking about, right?
Unknown Speaker 28:16
Absolutely. That's right, you start to see, generically there are these patterns. And that's right, they can manifest in your professional life. And by the way, how often do we have an issue at work that then ends up being an issue at home, because we start to be dissatisfied with how our loved one is relating to that issue. And suddenly, we offload without intending to our feelings about the workplace struggle onto the relationship and now the relationship of this problem and the workplaces problem, right. So we tend to externalize we tend to look outward and say, and place blame and say if only it weren't. If only the situation weren't this way, then I'd be okay. If only he would have responded that way. Then I'd be okay. And, you know, it's fair enough, we do want to try to control our environment to the extent that we can, but you can see how we are in the habit of controlling our environment as the one that main solution and sometimes the one only solution and we can see where that falls short in situations like this where you may not have so much control over that or you have to act cooperatively in a way that loses some autonomy. Right. So, you know, for example, with the mask thing. So, when we can great to control externals, but what we can't always and certainly illness is a great example of that. We What do we do when we become ill and we can't do anything about our health. We have to weather the storm of that illness, we can do what we can to weather that storm. arm. But what happens then, if we don't have an inner resource to rely on, then we're just suffering and waiting it out. But if we have this capacity to work with our experience, and you know, there has been research around, showing the positive effect on these skills, these attention skills on, you know, actually strengthening our immune system, reducing the amount we suffer from illness. Certainly in my case, they had a radical effect on depression, anxiety. So it's amazing to think that we have this inner resource for us, available to us in the form of our skills, our attention skills, that can have a surprisingly profound impact on how we experience even illness even, you know, mental health challenges. And unfortunately, I think in many cases, we've just got it backwards. We're spending too much time trying to control the externals and not enough time developing this internal strength and resilience.
Stephen Christopher 31:07
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And that's something that I've only learned, I don't know, in the last maybe five years. And part of that is from the work that we did together, you know, many years ago, and then the practicing of those skills over years and years and years have just started to come, you know, become skills that I can actually use very well. And so, I want to talk about this I want to talk about decision making, because what we're talking about so far is okay, there's these skills and we can use them to live better, more aligned lives. And have the I'm going to use the word outcomes have have the outcomes more of what we desire, right. And you can preface that if you want a little bit because I mean, outcomes are tricky, right? I think outcomes need to be talked about it. In terms of like, Okay, what do we really, really want? You know, we don't necessarily want a million dollars, we want the freedom and the ease and the camaraderie and the connection that that thing might help us attain. But when it comes to making decisions, I know at least for me, this is probably where I get caught up the most. Right? And so, you you alluded to it and talked about a little bit in the beginning where, let's say I'm trying to make a decision that is a seemingly large decision. Let's say it's a big, big business decision or personal life decision. And I can notice that there's some knots around it. And then I identify kind of what the knots are like, Okay, what does that feeling? Maybe where is it coming from? Where's it in my body that helps me identify it. And then when I kind of untangle that one, I still sometimes struggle it. Is there another knot below that? Or is that actually gone? And is this the right decision or like My night for me I talked about in terms of ego as my ego just, you know, is it just messing with me? Is my ego really actually directing it? Or is this more like my true self where I can actually use my intuition to make a decision because I'm going to go really far here. I believe that our intuition can guide us. I mean, at this amazingly high level, just unbelievable, right? I mean, and in business and personal and just anything, I believe that it's just so amazing, but there's a lot of knots that can be in the middle and sometimes I don't know that I get all the knots untied. Is this the right decision? Or is it not the right decision? I don't feel the pain in my chest anymore. But now my big toe hurts a little bit and like, so I kind of can go in that spiral and then I end up wasting a lot of energy or using a lot of energy. Still, so? I don't know.
Unknown Speaker 33:49
Yeah, yeah, I will. Um, we have a great phrase for that. It's called recycle the reaction. recycle the reaction. So You know, I'll walk through what you described as a moment of mindfulness you, you notice, oh, there's this not. And you know, maybe it's, there's an emotional aspect to it right? So I saw you point towards a part of your body. So you your attention went to this area in your body where you felt where you tend to feel that fear, let's say, or uncertainty, whatever, whatever emotion is tied to the thinking, right? So your attention is drawn to that and you notice it. You notice maybe how intense is the fear? Where's it located in my body? It is it What's this quality? Yes, fear. It's sort of anxiety, whatever you want to call it, whatever name you have for that. And it seems to be sort of moving a little bit. It's starting in my solar plexus, it's maybe moving up to my chest a little bit. Right. So that's the sensory clarity part where you really are getting clear about, well, what is this emotion and how is it operating. And by the way, for everybody listening, this is just one way you can work with these skills you don't have to a lot of people don't like turning toward their emotions, they feel like I don't want to go there. You don't have to, you don't have to at all, you can do something completely different. You can focus on the sounds of the birds chirping, you know, birds chirping, you can listen to music and focus on the sound of music. You can look at a beautiful VISTA at the mountains and you can focus on that. So just remember these skills can be applied to anything and everything but we're using this example specifically around decision making for Steve and kind of mapping it out. So we feel this nervousness and anxiety and we bring sensory clarity to it. Notice, define it a little bit more clearly. Bring a little definition in terms of things like intensity, location, those types of qualities. And then we're also doing our best to soften around it. So when I say soften, what do I mean? Well, we all understand what it means when you're physically tends to relax your muscles, right? So we want to kind of have that similar relaxation around this feeling of uneasiness or fear or whatever that is. So you want to try to relax around the solar plexus area. See if you can give permission for that emotion to kind of play itself out, right to the best of your ability, let the emotion play itself out. So our habit is to suppress repressed associate, I got to get them on with my day. I can't feel this right now to cut off from it, right. So we want to instead try to soften around it and get permission for it to play out. Because that way, it's not going to drive and distort our thinking. When we repress when we suppress when we dissociate. When we cut ourselves off. That's when we get into this pattern where the fear is driving our thinking without it realizing it without us even being aware. So getting to a place where we're willing, at least for the emotion to be there, you don't have to focus on it, you have to be willing for that emotion to be there. And that's an example of having a mindful moment with your emotional experience around the issue of making a decision. But now to get to Well, what do I do? How do I know that all those knots are untangled? And the first answer is like you don't know and they aren't. So don't worry about it. We're just doing our best here. You know, and we're we're gonna best you know, given every all the resources we have available to us in this moment, we take our best shot, knowing that sometimes we're going to fall and sometimes we're going to get it right and we're going to improve our game nonetheless, over time. But one thing you can do to improve your game over time, which is really what you're asking is what we call recycle the reaction and what that means is Is that moment that you say to yourself? Well, I think this is the right decision. But have I gotten all those knots? I'm not sure. Maybe there's a knot under the knot that I'm missing. And maybe I need to wait before I make this decision and to untangle that knot. And what if I make that decision and then I discovered this big knot that was hidden in my head, right? And then I'm screwed, and I've made them and I've wasted all this time and right so you can see that rabbit hole thinking that rabbit hole thinking in itself is a knot that you want to untangle and the way you untangle it is the same way you untangle that first knot. So that's recycling the reaction. In other words, you catch yourself in the act of getting preoccupied with whether you've untangled all the knots. And you notice Okay, what is that thought? Oh, have I entangled the knots? What does it feel like? what's what's the is there an emotion tied to that thought? Right? Yeah, actually, I'm feeling some uneasiness. Okay, where's that located? So You take the thought itself, and you deconstruct that thought with sensory clarity. And then you can have equanimity and realize, Oh, right. Okay. I don't need to buy into this thought anymore that I bought into that last thought. So it's a kind of a hall of mirrors. If you will, you just keep seeing how
Unknown Speaker 39:19
the mind wants to replicate a familiar routine, in which you get worried about something and then you think about you get preoccupied with it, you get worried and preoccupied worried and preoccupied. And if you manage to untangle this one, it's like whack a mole. Another one comes up, you know, another version of it comes up in the form of Wait, did I get all the knots out? So then you recycle the reaction. You do the same exact thing over and over again at a certain point that plays itself out And meanwhile, you make the best decision you can based on the information you have at the moment. And that's the game the game is to be working through. So Your your mind gets the message. We're not going to go here No, just like a puppy. You know, we weren't trained as puppies. As little kids, we didn't have these skills. Nobody taught us that there's an ideal way to pay attention. They told us to pay attention. But they didn't teach us that there's an ideal way to pay attention. So a lot of us adults who are first learning these strategies, we're we're at a disadvantage compared to kids who learn this stuff. Because we have to untangle a lot of bad routines that our minds have fallen into a lot of habits that our minds have fallen into around how we think. And so, as you pointed out, and as I mentioned earlier, the fight flight freeze keeps wanting to kick in, and the mind keeps wanting to stabilize. That's how the mind stabilizes. By the way, we can take the evilness out of it. If we just look at the fact that the mind is only trying to stabilize you in the best It knows how, even if what it looks like stability is actually you getting down a rabbit hole of worrying about things worry and preoccupation is familiar territory for the mind. So the mind says, oh, let's let's revert back to this stabilizing version of myself where I'm worried and preoccupied because I know how to do that. I know how to be worried and preoccupied. So let's go there. And unfortunately, that's the minds way. That's a primitive minds way of stabilizing. But the, let's say more evolved minds way or the more mature minds way. And by the way, we all have our moments of maturity where we see it working well. That that looks like finding a different way that goes, it's another kind of stabilizing, that doesn't involve getting caught in the habit of our past routine. And that stays mobilizing is a kind of paradox, because it means you are okay with the uncertainty, it means you're okay with not knowing what comes next. And to get to the point where you're really okay with not knowing what comes next means you have to give up a lot of that illusion of control. That impression of I'm steering the ship here, you have to yield. But of course, anybody who's in a leadership role knows the value of that yield. And you know that when you give up that that need to know and be in charge. That's when the magic happens. That's when the creativity happens. That's when you can actually move forward and have that intuition start to speak, because nothing dampens intuition more than clamping down on things clamping down on the steering wheel. So we have to learn how to release the steering wheel a bit in order to Stop getting so caught in those old habits that are just are stabilizing us at a particular level, but not permitting us to grow beyond that.
Stephen Christopher 43:12
Yeah, I think for me in the beginning, when I started practicing this, I was like, Oh, yeah, I believe that it's the best for me to practice this. But my brain wanted proof. So in the especially in the beginning, it was like, okay, lean into the unknown. I mean, the podcast name is the exciting, unknown for a reason. And it's, it would be lean into the unknown. And I would lean in just a little bit, and I would wait, I'd be like, Okay, wait, like, let's see, did it did it actually work to have proof that it actually worked? And then maybe I'd lean in a little bit more. That was the hardest part about starting for me. And now those those leaps are getting bigger and bigger. But it's uncomfortable still, for me. The unknown. I mean, yeah, I mean, I feel called to be doing something. I'll use the word bigger. Even even So right now, in conjunction with everything else I'm doing, that's part of why we started this podcast. But it's so unknown to me. Like, I don't even have a structure for it. And it's it's uncomfortable, but I just I just know, right? My intuition is telling me. So yeah, it takes, I don't know, I guess some people are maybe faster than others at being comfortable with the unknown. And, you know, I guess maybe assessing risk almost. So we need to talk about it kind of from a business perspective. But I'll always remember that she told me something years and years ago, and you said, there's good news and bad news. And you said, The bad news is you are in a freefall. And basically, the way I interpret it is just just be comfortable. You know, we're just in a freefall. And the good news is there is no ground. And I always think about that anytime. I'm like, all wound up. I'm like, wait, okay, cool. It's just I'm in a freefall. But the good news is there is no ground, so I'm not gonna go splat or hit anything, and then I kind of just enjoy the freefall a little bit more.
Unknown Speaker 45:06
Yeah. And I want to give credit, I think I heard that from Pema children, too, who's a wonderful teacher who I highly recommend. And it's also equally the case that I spoke from my own true experience and that I, you know, sharing that with you, obviously, it rang true to your own true experience as well. And it's true that once we can navigate to a willingness to be in the freefall that we all actually are in. And for many people, you can't even wrap your head around that. What do you mean freefall? What are you talking about? freefall? And so okay, well, maybe it doesn't mean anything to you right now. That's okay. But for those of you who it does mean something to to say to talk about a freefall to talk about the unknown, then yes, the degree to Which we can open ourselves to that unknown. Be willing for the unknown. That is the point where the magic starts to happen. Yep. Where were we, because you described it, it's uncomfortable for you, it's always going to be uncomfortable for you as a human being because as human beings we need to survive. We need to protect this body. We need to make sure this body is safe. We need to have food on the table, you know, we need to have a roof over our heads. So for the human being, that needs to self protect. It's always the uncertainty the unknown is always going to be terrifying, honestly, no. Um, but the question is, how much do you want to stay locked into that one way of knowing yourself as the human being? That is in survival mode. How often How much time do you want to allocate for the rest of your life to being a human in survival mode. And it turns out that when we develop our attention, we can free ourselves from only or mainly knowing ourselves that way. And when we free ourselves from only or mainly knowing ourselves as human beings bent on surviving, wow, that really shifts the way we walk around in the world. And part of the way we get through that is honestly getting to the point where we're more and more willing to die, we're more and more willing for the reality that we are mortal, that we are going to die and that right in this present moment, you can experience the passing away of this or that that did not meet your expectations of the moment, right. Like even as something as simple as G This steak isn't as tender as I would have liked it to be. That's a kind of a dying away of, you know, there's a little, you know, tinge of disappointment in that moment. Gee, the steak didn't meet my expectation. And can you be willing then to experience that? Or are you gonna kind of shove it aside and keeping the steak and not really think about that? Or, or are you going to just tell yourself that you are a bad person for feeling disappointed? Because you should be appreciating the steak, right? So we're still right, we still get all caught up in our relationship to that experience instead of just let me Feel This Moment of disappointment. Let me just feel that and let me go on from there. So we're we are
Unknown Speaker 48:58
constantly being confirmed. Did with how the quote unquote present moment isn't quite like we thought it would be. Right? The steak isn't tender. I have to wear a mask, you know, whatever it might be. I'm, I'm sick, you know, whatever it might be. We're constantly confronted with how this present moment experience is not as we thought it would be, as we planned it as we want it to be. What do we do, then? What do we do? That's all that matters if we have a willingness for that to be the case, for our experience to be the case. Now, again, you know, this is about how we relate to our experience, and then we can talk about making effective change in the world. But let's just work with our experience. What's my reaction right now, to that steak not being tender? Can I be willing to have the reaction I'm having, that's all Can I be willing for my inner experience to be just exactly As it is, if I'm willing for that, then there isn't anything that you could ever face that you can't handle. So suddenly the unknown, you can bring a confidence to it, that you're you'll be able to meet it skillfully, to some degree skillfully. Concentration, clarity, equanimity. If you can face this moment, and what isn't working the way you thought it should, should work in this moment, that translates into greater, greater and greater willingness for the unknown. And then you get to start to be the kind of person who spends more time living their life like that, than the kind of person who spends their time worried and preoccupied with this or that that's the difference. We start to grow our ability to experience this life beyond the limited Human body that's worried about survival. Hmm.
Stephen Christopher 51:05
And it's, I love it because you just answered the question that I was going to ask next, which is like, what's the point in all this? Like, why would we do it? You know, right? Like, why would we learn these skills? What is that in result kind of that we're going for? Why is it worth the? The effort in the unknown? And to me, you just answered it.
Unknown Speaker 51:26
Yeah. Why is what life worth living? We talk a lot about how precious time is. But when you start to do this practice, you realize that you're not making the most of that precious time that actually we are squandering our precious time. In all our preoccupations. We're squandering these precious moments. And so you develop an appreciation that Yes, okay, there may be some startup energy involved in breaking our habits and learning A new way to develop our attention. But the long term gain is that you maximize fulfillment from that precious little amount of time you have on this planet. And that is, then there's a it's a no brainer. why we do this practice? There's no question I, you know, I, whatever sit in silence for two years in a row to achieve. When I think about my before and after, when I think about the life that I would have been walking around in the you know, the, the interior, the design, right? If we think of like this, this body as a home, right? That home that former home 23 years ago, that was a miserable home to be in. It was a very unhappy home. When I think about how happy this home is and the fact that it's only going to get happier as I continue. You can't that's you know, there's nothing more valuable than that. And then what that translates into is how I get to show up with people. How I get to be more caring in the world how I get to contribute more, because I'm not caught up in my misery. I'm not stuck there. So I have that much more energy to bring to the positivity, I can reinforce those avenues of positivity, because my energy isn't being diverted into the unhappiness. Hmm.
Stephen Christopher 53:25
Wow, okay. Well, it's always amazing when I talk to you, I always walk away with I'm like, okay, you know, I know most of this stuff, right? Like cuz we train together for a year. And every time I talk to you, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I got another page of notes. I got a whole nother level to go to. And so I'm always looking forward to it. And I'm always excited about it. Laura, do you have any other questions that have come up from your side? I don't know. There's so much processing a lot of it. So go ahead. Okay, cool. So I have one more question. How much? Okay, let me think how I want to say this. How much? How much can we as we hone these skills? And let's say that we are very skillful, how much can we rely on our intuition to make decisions? compared to, I guess, kind of what I would consider the other side of it, which would be like our brain, our calculated brain, you know, so like, okay, we're gonna, you know, make some big decisions or figure out what path to go down or just anything like, how much of that can we rely on our intuition, versus how calculated Do we need to be defeated?
Unknown Speaker 54:51
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think there's something we could call wise strategy, which is that we don't want to say it's either or. We want to To say that there is this fusion, this merging of. So that wisdom informs strategy. That's really the aim. The aim is not to eliminate strategy and just be kind of pulled along by this thing we're calling intuition. The aim is that our intuition feeds into our strategic planning and that they they work synergistically together and that both are informed by wisdom. So, you know, strategy, when it's overly calculated, loses a kind of humanity and sometimes, you know, strategy results in making choices that, you know, harm a lot of people. So that's one strategy isn't working well, right. What we want is strategy that is takes into account Humanity. So a strategy that is ultimately both wise and compassionate, just kind of in a big picture way, we're aiming for strategy that is Win Win, let's, let's put it that way I love. I love that idea of Win win because if we just put a little extra effort in, we can discover what strategies are Win win. And then there's no problem and we can start to be transparent about the areas where we see conflicts, and bring about resolution through our ability to navigate those conflicts more skillfully. You know, there's no better skill set to have when you're negotiating a deal, then concentration, clarity and equanimity. Because it means that you're, you're going to be able to either walk from the deal if you need to, or find your way towards a deal that's going to be optimal for everyone. And that's really the aim. So I guess I just would think of it in terms of that we do these skills, we develop these skills, we get better and better at being able to hear those little whispers about what's going to be a good direction to move in, we get better and better able at breaking down. Whatever interferes with us being able to hear that intuition more clearly. And we keep operating from a fundamental place of caring, caring about the the best outcome for all. And when you care about the best outcome for all on then, you know, then you're doing whatever you can possibly do understanding that, hey, tomorrow, you might wake up and realize, Oh, actually, I thought I was caring about the best outcome for all but I didn't realize that I was operating from this assumption. That was an old habit, an old way of thinking about things that can happen. That's enough. But we just do our best to move increasingly towards and keep us our true north. I'm going to try to be skillful, I'm going to try to, you know, weave together, this intuition and this strategic thinking into a wise process. And I'm gonna always to the best of my ability come from a place of caring.
Stephen Christopher 58:26
Hmm, I love that. Oh, yeah, cuz like for me, one thing that I've gotten, I've started to get better at is just choosing the best that I can now, you know, from a place of mindfulness, and being okay with whatever the thing is that comes next based on that choice. What I used to do is I would get caught up in the decision and the choice and just not make one and then I would burn just Energy and Energy right.
Unknown Speaker 58:56
By the way, that's, that's freeze. Right fight flight freeze. You would get frozen. So recognize that that's your nervous systems flight fight flight freeze patterns, defining the way you operate. And you just weren't aware of how that freeze was kicking in and causing you to operate from that place. You didn't have enough awareness.
Stephen Christopher 59:21
Yeah. I love that. Yeah, I used to, I still do probably sometimes but I used to freeze a lot more than anything else.
Unknown Speaker 59:30
And recognizing that is your first step out of it, recognized you know, waking up to it, then you face whatever it is that was causing you to freeze some combination of how you feel and how you think was causing you to was was catapulting you into that freeze mode. And you wake up to the fact that Oh, wait a minute, how I feel and how I think if I can be clear about it, then I can let it come and go freely, meaning I don't have to attach to it. So voila, my identity doesn't have to be all wrapped up in this habitual way of thinking, just because it stabilizes me in a particular way. That's again, I really want to point to the utility of it. Because a lot of we give ourselves a hard time we beat ourselves up about that. But you know, from the brains perspective, there's a utility to stabilizing. It's just unfortunate. It's tragic often, that the way our brain stabilizes us is in this routine is not healthy for us.
Stephen Christopher 1:00:32
I love that. Well, thank you for driving that point home. Again. All right, Juliana, this has been absolutely amazing. So I would ask, share a little bit about where people can find out more about you and unified mindfulness. And then if there's anything else that you can think of that we've missed, or that you just want to kind of close with, please, the floor is yours.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:56
Yeah. So you can reach me The easiest places we have a free training at unified mindfulness, comm forward slash core CE o r e. And that's a great way to kind of get a taste of what this approach is all about our core training, it's 10 video series, and it's free and gives you a lot of really useful knowledge. And we do have our private group coaching program that's also available, which you can learn more about on the site. But I would recommend starting with unified mindfulness comm for a slash core to learn more about our training. And yeah, I would just say, you know, I love Steven, it's such a joy to talk to you. Because we can go deep in this stuff because of the training that you've done the work that you've done, and it makes it a joy for me. It's like it's we get to, you know, take a deep dive into this territory and I would encourage everybody, you know, in general Right now people's nervous systems are getting pinged right and left, I know, for instance, a lot of parents are grappling with the going back to school and those types of challenges. And
Unknown Speaker 1:02:13
I would just say that
Unknown Speaker 1:02:16
if you can listen to what we shared in this training, I mean, in this podcast in this conversation, there was some training in there, and see if you can apply it to moments that are maybe more subtle, don't try to take on those massive moments of you can try, but it's gonna be harder. But I want you to experience some success with this, those little pings moments where someone says something on social media and you get a little ping, right? Notice that ping and maybe see if you can recycle that reaction when it's subtle when it's small, because that takes on a momentum over time. So and that's what leads to us really being burnt out and stressed out. So we can take in a little doses, manageable doses, these little pings. Can I be okay with how I feel? Can I notice where it's located that kind of thing? And if I don't want to focus on it, let's say it's like, oh, I don't want to feel that anxiety, it's getting too intense, then can I intentionally anchor my attention away from it, listen to the sounds of the environment, listen to a piece of music, look at the sights of the environment, but still let that emotion play out in the background. let it do its thing. Try not to push it down. And that's my recommendation.
Stephen Christopher 1:03:36
Awesome. Well, I certainly believe very, very deeply in your work, and I'm so appreciative for our friendship and everything that I've learned from you over the past years and years and years and years. And I'm so thankful and I know that people listening are going to get a ton out of this. So I highly recommend if you if this even seems remotely interesting, like even if this is the first time that you're really hearing about this recommend go check out that training because Juliana is one of the best at, well, one of the best in the world at this. And so this is a great way to start getting into it. Even if you don't have any of these skills built up yet or you're not currently practicing it, and then if you are practicing it, like I've been practicing for at least over a decade, go there to even learn more and deepen the practice as you heard here, even though I've even trained personally with Juliana, we still get the experience to go deeper and specific issues like we did on this podcast today. So Juliana, I love you to death. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And Laura, I guess take it away if you have any other questions and then give us your amazing points from the show. So Juliana, thank you so much. This was really interesting from my perspective, because I've not done any formal training in mindfulness. However, the concepts are something that is always out there in my world. So I can tell you first and foremost, I'm going to go do the training, just to see where it leads me, hopefully allowing me to be a little bit more intentional with some of those things that I know. But don't practice and don't do them with any specificity. But as I was listening to most of this conversation, I kept thinking, Oh, yeah, that's me. Oh, yeah, that's me. Oh, yeah. That's why that happens. So I think that the couple takeaways for me really, were recognizing that our, our brain is trying to stabilize our environment, environment, right, whatever we're feeling whatever emotion aches, anxiety, pressure, judgment. We are. Our brain is trying to stabilize that based upon past information, right, based upon those habits that we've formed over a long, long time. And so recognizing all right, well, there's only limited ways that our brain can do that. Unless We give us new ways to do that. And that's what really mindfulness is all about. That was like this big picture like, aha, okay, now I get it. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that.
Unknown Speaker 1:06:14
That's beautiful. Well said,
Stephen Christopher 1:06:16
Oh, well, thank you. It's so different when you get to listen as opposed to interviewing, asking questions and participating. Let's see, the other thing was I really liked the idea of
Unknown Speaker 1:06:30
what did you call it? The re recycle the reactions? Yes.
Stephen Christopher 1:06:35
recycle the reaction? Because many of us even if, you know, you wouldn't have said, Oh, I practice mindfulness in the past you would say, all right, I know what I'm feeling. I'm feeling my ego or I'm feeling anxious about making the wrong decision. Where's that coming from? And you're like, Okay, I got past that. But yet you still don't make the decision. So being able to go Okay, well, wait a minute. I'm not making the decision. What is that? and using that pattern over and over again, I think could be a really good tool for many of our listeners, including myself.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:08
Beautiful, Yeah, super powerful we can it leads to a more efficient, effective nervous system and more efficient, effective perceptual system. Exactly. You know
Stephen Christopher 1:07:19
what I think the other thing dealing with the nervous system, we've had a couple of other guests who've talked about that. And that response that our body is conditioned in our body, right? Of Oh, when I feel this, my nervous system kicks in, and maybe I try and just avoid it. I repress it. You talked about repressing or avoiding it, and how ingrained again that is in our body, as well as our mind.
Unknown Speaker 1:07:47
Absolutely. And I think if we could all really keep that front and center. I think that would also help us with some of the conflict, the divisiveness that's going on these days. Of course, people have to be accountable and responsible for their actions in the world. But in terms of the way we relate to each other,
Unknown Speaker 1:08:08
to recognize how people are in the throes of their own
Unknown Speaker 1:08:14
tragic patterns really, so much of the time and to keep that front and center to remember that as we take whatever action we need to take as we hold people accountable, but to start with that understanding, I think would help heal a lot of the tensions that are happening right now.
Stephen Christopher 1:08:32
Wilson. Yes, I agree. Well, Juliana, you and your team are doing amazing things to help the world, especially through these interesting times that we're going through. So I know Lauren, I thank you all of our mutual friends. Thank you and the rest of the world thinks you're you're doing very, very big, amazing thing. So thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker 1:08:52
That's a joy. Thank you. Thanks to both. It's just wonderful, Steven. A lot of fun. I knew it would be
Stephen Christopher 1:08:57
Yeah. Awesome, everybody. So thanks. You so much for taking time out of your busy day to hang out with Laura and I and Juliana Ray on this amazing episode of the exciting unknown podcasts. So make sure that you tune in in a couple days when Laura and I go back and we do the connect the dots episode where we talk about what we learn, we talk about what we've put into practice. I have a feeling it's gonna be a really good one from this, and until next time, embrace the exciting unknown