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Cleaning up Your Mental Mess With Dr. Caroline Leaf | Ep. 385

How transforming thinking can lead to improved cognitive and mental health

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. She has written numerous bestselling books on mental cognition and well-being, including her newest, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess

So when it comes to understanding what we can do with our brains and how to do it, Dr. Leaf is our go-to person!

Dr. Leaf listens to and relates to JJ’s story of her son's Traumatic Brain Injury and how many others worldwide are experiencing similar situations. And she reinforces one important notion: all hope is not lost. 

Dr. Leaf discusses her theory called the Geodesic Information Processing theory, which covers topics like how we think, build memory, and learn, and how we can transform that information into tools and processes that have helped the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD), autism, dementia, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. She also touches on the important roles of supportive family and friends. 

You won’t want to miss this episode. Tune in now. 

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Click Here To Read Transcript

JJ Virgin: Dr. Caroline leaf. Welcome to the show. I am super excited to talk to you today.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Thank you so much. I'm excited to talk to you. It's great to meet you.
JJ Virgin: I really don't understand how we have never met.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: I just didn't understand it either.
JJ Virgin: Right? I mean, it seems like we have all the same friends.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Exactly. And talk the same sort of language from certain aspects.
So yeah.
JJ Virgin: Well, we're fixing it now and hopefully we'll actually get to meet in person one of these days.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: That's exciting to know we eating back into the area of actually physically seeing people.
JJ Virgin: Thank God.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Absolutely.
JJ Virgin: So we're going to dig into all things, mental health, but I think before we go there, and I'm really excited to talk to you about [00:05:00] this concept of, of the neuro cycle.
Before we go into that, I'd love to just know how. Into all of this?
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Absolutely. Well, I've been in the field for 38 years and initially started out as a therapist and scientist. So from day one, I was, became a researcher and was doing clinical research and trials. And the reason I did that was I was very challenged, long story, short, challenged by one of my neuroscience professors back in the eighties.
And I say eighties, because at that time they didn't believe that the brain could change. So the going philosophy was. Once you've got damage to your brain, that's it. So we were trained clinically to help people to compensate, which is a very different way of thinking about things. And I always thought that was a bit weird because what I'd, because we, as humans are constantly changing, developing, growing, experiencing learning, and that's what our mind and the brain is the organ that the mind uses.
They're not the same thing. So therefore our minds change. The brain and body must change. So that began an era of research starting off with that professor saying, that's ridiculous question. When I [00:06:00] asked him doesn't our mind change our brain, I've done a Ted talk on this and that spurred 38 years of research and a drive to understand what is mind, what is brain?
What's the relationship? What our thoughts are, the emotions, what are all these things that we throw around? And what does it all mean for us as humans? And obviously applied very clinically initially with people with traumatic brain injuries and learning disabilities and autism. And Alzheimer's and, um, and that kind of thing.
And then very soon applied it into education and then just day-to-day, we've all got a mind. We've all got a brain and we all need to learn how to manage our mind in order to direct the neuroplasticity of our brain. So that's some of the first neuroplasticity research in my field back in the late eighties, early nineties.
And you know, that really got me into. Really researching this psycho neurobiology. And it's very exciting because it's shown me over these years of 25 years of clinical practice and 38 years of research that we really are at. Um, I mean our minds are phenomenal and we don't talk enough about mind. We don't understand mind.
It's one of [00:07:00] those things that's put in the list of, you know, exercise, eat, manage your mind. It's kind of subsumed under the one. Meanwhile, if you're not alive, your mind is not working. So your mind is your likeness and that's how big it is and it needs more attention. And that's why I do what I do and decided to really make it, um, make the systems that I've developed accessible in a simple way to everywhere.
And what has a mind. So that's kind of a quick walkthrough.
JJ Virgin: There's so many things I want to ask, just in that.
So, so I still remember even just with my son's traumatic brain injury, they're like, well, whatever he gets after the first six months is just where he's going to be. And then it was like, well, after the first two years, I'm like, this is ridiculous. Why is there any time in here that there's a, uh, you know, a stop to how much he can heal?
Um, mind versus brain. So you brought it up. What's the difference?
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Well, first, just very quickly reference your son. Also. I was trained in that era that the first 12 [00:08:00] months are critical and I showed, I work with people way after 12 months. I worked with some people that were 10 years post post-trauma and they were like, non-functional well, they were very low functioning and ended up getting degrees and becoming leading professors in South Africa and that kind of thing.
So there is, there is no, your, your brain is always. Your mind is always changing and there's always hope. And that's really a huge part of my message is, doesn't mean it's instantly gonna be fixed…
JJ Virgin: That is such an important message thank you for that for that because I call my son walking hope because, you know, the doctor said at first you just have to let them die and, um, you know, point two five percent chance he'll make it.
Well, fortunately, none of us are good listeners, so yeah. Well we didn't listen. And I figured, well, if he's still alive, we still have a chance. As long as he stays alive, we can figure out something, you know, all my friends are doctors, so we can surely figure this out. Um, but it, it has been very [00:09:00] interesting because the other side of that of course, is if you tell someone that they can't change their brain, then that's what they'll believe. So, you know, it's just interesting that you even question the professor because you know, when you're in school, that's, that's what they tell you. And that's what you study and that's the answers to the test. And, you know, you don't question this and thank God you did, because you know, you think of the poor patient.
And fortunately for Grant, we would usher anyone out of the room that would tell us what he was never going to be able to deal with, like out of the room. Um, well, right, because while I believe thoughts create that, you can only get as far as you believe and you know, you get what you expect. So I was like, oh no, no, no, no, he's going to be 110%.
But you think how many people were told, oh, you know, if you have a brain injury, it's the first year, it's the first six months, it's the first two years, and so many people after Grant and what we did for healing, we're like, oh, it's just too late for me. Right, so I'm really glad to hear you saying out to the world, it is never too late. You can always change your brain. And, but, so now let's [00:10:00] go into. Brain mind
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Well, you were the perfect parents had exactly what I would to do with my parents. I can tell you a thousands of stories that are similar to yours, where the parents didn't listen, where they were told their children were vegetables and they didn't. And they literally were told that. And thank God doctors don't say that anymore, but anyway, so well done to you and your, your situation is a classic case of why I did the research I did because I decided this is no good. We cannot have a philosophy like this driving us. And it's been a swimming uphill battle, literally it's summing up your first time a woman in science and second, I'm going against the natural grain. And I'm currently still because, you know, even though we now understand neuroplasticity, and I'll explain this all in a moment, we're also in a 40 year paradigm of, okay, the brains now, the most important thing.
So your brain made you do it. So if you have any symptoms, then any emotional symptoms, they likened to a physical illness, which they're not. They symptoms of something that you've gone through versus an actual illness, even though there's a neuroscience neurophysiological response. So let me explain, um, I'm going to hold up a brain for the listeners.
I'm holding up a [00:11:00] brain in a skull. It's not a real one. Okay. So you could just think of your own brain and your own skull and we are not our brain. And that's probably the most important thing to understand is that you're not your brain. Your brain is part of your physical, uh, your physical body, your brain and body together make up around about 1- 10% of who you are as a human.
The difference between you and I being alive and having this conversation and a dead person is your mind. So your mind is this phenomenal, alive mass that we have as humans that enable us to experience the world. All the good and the bad and the ugly and all the rest of it. And so our mind is this force.
It's literally a force that we can describe psychologically. And we can describe neuropsychologically. We can describe with physics and as we advance with these, these, uh, these fields, we, we're understanding more and more. So on the most simple level, your mind is the 90 to 99% of you. And it's the. Is what you're, aliveness, it's a your ability to experience life, how do you process life [00:12:00] through your mind?
And what does that mean? Alright, now you listening to me and I'm speaking and you're hearing sound waves. And if you're viewing this, you've got electromagnetic, likewise, there's a whole bunch of electromagnetic quantum energy that's happening in this discussion. And it's your mind field that literally absorbs that and pushes that into the brain.
So the brain is the responder. There's an incredible relationship to mind and brain. So there's this force, literally that enables you to process the world, you push that into your brain and your brain then responds on an electromagnetic, chemical, genetic level, and converts the experience into physical substances in your brain that look like trees, which are thoughts, which are built onto neurons. And I'm holding up a little tree in a pot, and that's literally what we are building 8,000 to 10,000 times a day. Cause that's more or less, average amount of experiences that we have in a day while we're awake. And every experience from the email you read to the social media post, to the discussion, you're listening to now to the conversation with your loved ones, to the meeting you [00:13:00] attended to all the things you, every single experience, including what you eat, exercise, et cetera.is all processed through the mind into the brain as a physic, as protein structure. So these, this trees made of proteins and chemicals and the, the, the experience is stored as data and emotions and feelings, et cetera, in vibrations in the proteins. I mean, that's how technical we can get. And then as soon as it's in your brain, it seems your brain sends a message to the rest of your body to change your DNA.
So it's also impacting every cell of your body. And that's how we have body memory. That's how, when people experience trauma and they recall the tumor, they feeling all the sensation. That's what we have yoga and body work and all that kind of stuff, EMDR which is pulling it out of the memory out of the cells and memories are the branches on the thought tree.
So the thought is the whole concept. COVID-19 let's look at a toxic thought. There's a healthy one and there's a toxic ones. I'm holding up a wiring looking tree now. So every experience we have is either healthy green tree or toxic, toxic worry looking tree. [00:14:00] The source of anything is the root system. A tree, just think of a tree.
You plant the seed, the roots grow, the bright, the trunk grows. The branches grow. As we talking. Now I am sowing putting the seed in. You introduce me. That's the seed. As we talking, that's all the information, all that data has been converted by your mind, into the root system. And then your unique thinking, feeling choosing, which is the psychology aspect of your mind interprets what I'm saying based on all your history experience and anything, you know, bite the subject into the branches of the tree. So the roots of the tree are the source of the information and the branches are your interpretation. How you uniquely think, feel, and choose all of this is data, emotions, data, everything that happened, feelings, et cetera, choices, all of that's encapsulated and in the root system and the branch system then, or what you say and what you do.
So essentially as humans, we are experiencing. Building this into the brain and the body Verde, a defect, it goes into the DNA brain. It goes into these trees and it also is in the mind. So if you look at the [00:15:00] little in the using Zencastr, now there's a little there's little lines going as we talk. That's kind of like what it looks like in the mind area.
So we've got waves of energy that are storing this that's I think weird. We all understand gravity gravitational fields keep us from floating. What they do now know from advanced science is that we also have unique gravitational fields around each of us as a human and we have an electromagnetic field, so we'll kind of blend it together.
This is work even done by as Einstein, the photoelectric effect and how we generate photons. And it's all related to that. But we see that when a person's dead, that goes, so it's a very significant power source of power energy. It's like plugging your computer into charge it. Your mind is what actually charges up your brain and your body.
So if you see your mind as this forces charging force, as well as the psychological. I think you'll choose. What does your mind do? It thinks, feels, and chooses and, and generates all the electricity and everything for your brain and body. That's what we see. So as a neuroscientist, I am used things like Q [00:16:00] EEG.
If it was a dead person, we wouldn't be able to have it. We wouldn't have a response in the QEG, but someone who's alive. There's a response because they are responding to. The things in life, and it's going through the brain, you put an EKG on a, on an alive person, you get a response on a dead person. You don't.
So the responses you're getting are related to this force of mind, activating brain and body. So that's what we call psycho neurobiology. And I know it's like a mouthful, but what, and why is it significant? Hugely significant? Because if, uh, if our mind is us, our aliveness, it means that we can actually have the level of agency.
So we have a messy mind, which is our experimental mind, which is the. Totally. Okay. Um, to have it's it's, uh, it's part of our, how we designed. It's all how we do life stuff. So it's experimental mind. So I don't know what's coming up next, nor do you. We don't know the events and circumstances of life. So we don't know what the next email conversation is that's going to come up. But what we, so we can't control that, but we can control our [00:17:00] response. So our mind experiences. So maybe you get out of this and you have a conversation. You end up having an argument. That's our messy mind, because you're just responding mean reacting, but then we can do something else.
We have a wise mind, we have this internal core white full of optimism wise. My nature that enables us to stand back and say, okay, My words had a negative impact on those people. Why, why did I react like that? In other words, we can become these thought detectives. We have this phenomenal wise ability in us to observe our own thinking.
We all do it. If you're doing a drag, not beat, we're using a wise mind just to have this conversation. So my whole premise is that. We need to get a wise mind talking to our, uh, messy mind and messy mind, we need to give it permission to it's. Okay. It's okay to mess up. It's okay. To get depressed, angry, um, worked up anxious.
These are all very, very normal human responses. You're not crazy. You don't have a brain disease. If you're depressed, you are responding. You have a response, it's a warning signal of something that's going on in your life. There's a, there's a course. Someone who's who's goes through. War [00:18:00] trauma. They're going to interpret their life very differently to someone who's not.
So that's going to show up in their life as potentially aggression and with all. And so all the symptoms PTSD is just a description of this. It's not who you are. It is a description of a symptom, a cluster of symptoms that you have because of the trauma you've experienced. So that goes kind of full circle around to it, when you have in someone labels and tells your son, you can't do it that. That is that literally is wired into your brain. The source is someone telling you, you can't do it, but you, as parents said, no, you can do it. And you, you know, you countered that. So, but if you live into the, I can't do it. That's how you, that's what someone's telling you.
That's what you interpret. I'm shame. I'm useless. I can't do it. That's how you show up and that, because that's contrary to our neurobiology, which is wired for love and optimism bias, which is all survival based survivals, not this, survivals this, we then will reject this other neurological level, I immune system or reject this because it's a real physical thing.
We have a physiological response in our body, et cetera, et [00:19:00] cetera. This shortens our telomeres, which ages our cells, which thus affects our cortisol. I mean, there's a million different things. And I talk about some of those in my book in the first half, I put a simple summary. My most recent clinical trials, but so yes, whatever you experienced with your mind, if it's established as a, as a wiring in your brain and in your DNA and your telomeres and your mind, the little waves of your mind that is creating a very, um, challenging environment in your brain and your body.
Now I'm holding up a model of the brain and the body. These, if we keep these and don't manage our mind, don't manage our toxic habits and our traumas and our. Those are staying there, volcanic nature. They're going to explode. They are increasing the vulnerability of the body by a factor of, and the brain by a factor of 35 to 98% increased vulnerability to disease.
So it's not a matter of I get, I have a toxic or to have an argument I'm going to get. Cancer. It's not quite like that. It is cumulative over time. As we constantly bombard our brain and our body and mind with these unmanaged [00:20:00] thoughts and unmanaged issues in our life, that's all we need therapy and support and counseling, and to deal with our stuff.
As we don't deal with them, we increase vulnerability and that increases your chance of dying earlier from a disease. And we see that we are in an era with such advanced technology, such advanced medicine, but we in. Era where people are dying eight to 25 years younger than they should. Now in 2021 from, from diseases that are preventable lifestyle diseases.
So if you constantly are managing your mind just in some, and you don't know how to no one showed you and you suppressing your thoughts because you're too scared to say, Hey, I've got depression. Cause it's so stigmatized. And you know, you've got a story you don't. It's of depression. You have a story that's manifesting as depression.
Depression is a warning signal showing that there's an imbalance and their survival is threatened. When we see it like that, we can, then that's a wise mind saying, Hey, this is not me. This is not, I am not depression. I am depressed because of. As of X, Y, and Z. As soon as you shift that [00:21:00] perspective, you shift your neurophysiology 1400 neurophysiological responses in your brain and your body will work for you.
And you actually can go into that wise mind state and say, okay, I feel depressed. There's a reality. There's a reason. It's okay. People have depression since the beginning of time into varying degrees. This is a human response. It's not that I'm crazy and have a brain disease and have to live with this the rest of my life, which will make you feel worse.
It can make you feel hopeless. People are dying from lack of hope, death of despair, dying younger, but you keep this, your vulnerability increases. If you keep living with I'm. No good. I can't do some shame on this and I'm clinically depressed. Daily increasing of vulnerability. Eventually you will get some cardiovascular issues or you may have hypertension and get a stroke or whatever, but it's different for everyone, but eventually over time, your body wears down.
And that's what I'm trying to help people to understand you. You can't change your story. What happened to you is, is valid. It needs to be heard. You need to be able to express it. You need to have the opportunity to deconstruct and reconstruct. It never goes away, [00:22:00] but you can at least make it work for you and take the sting and the pain out of it and redesign it.
Brain and body that it's actually works for you and not against you. So it becomes this reconceptualize thought where the pain is not going to put a little, I've got a holding up a tree and I'm putting a little piece of the tree out physically. And that's the tiny little green thing that I've pulled out of a big green tree.
And it is now the converted reconceptualized pain that you've worked through. It's changed. It's still your story. You still going to cry when you talk about it, but it's different. You've now it's happened to you, but you've changed. What's happened in you and that's pretty much a synopsis of what I'm trying to do with my work.
Your brain was processing nonstop.
JJ Virgin: I don't think I blinked.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: You didn't. You just stayed. You did amazing.
JJ Virgin: That was quite something. Okay.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: It's a different angle. It's a different angle.
JJ Virgin: It's so good. I'm listening [00:23:00] to this and thinking about my son and thinking about my, like, I think anyone listening right now as applying this, and of course the big question I went, well, what a perfect book title you have of Cleaning up Your Mental Mess. I'm like, okay, obviously I want to clean up the messy brain and, you know, activate my wise brain and how the heck do we do that?
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Exactly. And that's what I spent 38 years working with. So when I was challenged by that professor and they said, you can't I was like okay. How am I going to do this?
I need to understand mind. And
JJ Virgin: I'm so happy that you're one of those people that when you get challenged, you decided that, yeah, I'll show you
I actually
Dr. Caroline Leaf: showed that. That's actually true. That's a good point. But yeah, I keep on, I mean, I'm challenged all the time by these concepts.
JJ Virgin: You know, it's when I was in, at UCLA, my English professor told me that I was a terrible writer. That's why I became an English major and started writing books. So you just see [00:24:00] and let you know yeah.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: That ones you should go back and tell you should go back and show me your books and say, yes, I was a terrible writer.
I only have a few New York times best sellers. Nevermind.
that's the thing we can develop. Intelligence is something that's not fixed. Your mind is constantly changing. Your brain is constantly changing, and that is really what neuroplasticity is. Neuroplasticity is the malleability. Brain, but the brain doesn't change on its own. If someone's dead the brains doing nothing.
I mean, I know I keep coming back to this, but that's how easy it is to kind of process. If you think a dead brain does nothing but alive, I'm experiencing something new. I'm not the same as I was before I started speaking to you. I've had another experience that experiences not changed my brain again.
And I've now learned new stuff. I've progressed in a different way. I know another whatever you're constantly changing. And that was what drove me to understand. What is this? What is the thought, what are we memories? All that stuff. And in that process, I started understanding the neuroscience and the psycho neurobiology.
And so [00:25:00] even though I've developed a system that is five steps, it's not a magic quick fix. Nothing's a magic quick fix. What I have understood is that things take time and that I've tried to work out, okay, what is the time everyone says, oh, it takes time to heal. And what is that? What does that look like?
So I'm very practical. So what do you do and what does it look like? And that's what the neuro cycle was burst out of. That was birthed out of the theory of that. first I developed a theory, then I developed systems and techniques that were tested meticulously over the years I even spent. I don't do work in the lab. I would do work with real people.
So I literally went almost underground, like a mole for almost 15 years. We, I just worked with different in different countries, different places with different people, different socioeconomic strata. I was in the apartheid in, the apartheid regime that terrible, terrible time in South Africa and the transition when Mandela came to power and the post-apartheid era I was working in those areas that were so the disadvantaged areas for three days a week for 25 years. And that's where I learned most of my understanding of humanity and resilience. So all of that gave birth [00:26:00] to a system that's that are often likened to Amazon. And if you think of Amazon, it is a phenomenal delivery system.
That's what it really is. It's a pro it's a system that's been developed that. Anything anyway, literally, and it's extremely efficient. That's what I have to get at the neurosurgical is kind of like an Amazon. I think Amazon can deliver anything. The neurosurgical can deliver anything as well. It's basically teaching you how to get your wise mind, talking to your messy mind and making the changes that you need to do in your life to, to, to deliver what you want in your life, basically.
And to help you accept things like. uncertainty and not maybe understanding why someone's done something to you. I mean, how do you ever process a rape? There's no lesson to be learned. There's only healing to be processed and an uncertainty to be accepted. And there's a lot of teaching in the wellness industry that if you go through really bad stuff, you've got to forgive and you've got to learn the lesson and that's how you move forward.
You can't tell someone who's raped to learn a lesson. What lesson is there? The thing that you've got to do is be able to [00:27:00] process and accept this is what's happened to me, but I change. I own. In me. And so the neuro cycle has been birthed out of that. So it doesn't replace therapy. You can use CBT act, any wellness, technique, meditation, all of it.
You can use all of it. But the whole thing is that a lot of us are doing these things, but we're not doing them in a psycho neurobiological way, which means we're not using the correct delivery system. And if you don't, if any, if any, anything in Amazon of India, the systems are disrupted things don't get delivered.
As we saw over COVID we had an issue with. This disruptor. So what I'm saying is that if you put whatever you do into the correct delivery system, you're going to get more out of it because you delivering it correctly to the brain and the body, because it's mind, brain, body, and then body, brain mind, and we've got to get that cycle going.
And so, um, things like EMDR and all those can be all used within the system. But the big thing here, just very quickly before I dive into. Whatever level of depth you want to go. Um, but if you think of it, you can go [00:28:00] three weeks without food. You can go three days without water. You can go three minutes without oxygen, but you can't even go three seconds without your mind working.
So your mind is what you go to sleep with it, not dreaming. I have not made it not regenerate your body. You wake up with your, what you eat with your mind. You'd go work out with your mind. You make decisions about what you're going to eat and how you're going to work out with your mind. In fact, the effectiveness of a workouts based on your mind, you can lose up to 90% of benefit of your workout in the DNA of yourself.
If your mind is not managed, if you go in with a bad attitude to that workout, if you're eating food with. Like totally, you've worked up in fighting with someone who eats really healthy farm to table meal. You can lose up to 86% of the nutrition just because of your state of mind, because your mind is driving the effectiveness of how your digestive system works, how your muscles are working, et cetera, et cetera.
So we don't, if we understand that impact, the driving force is mind. And if we know how to kind of corral that driving force, then we can actually then direct the neuroplasticity of our brain and we can [00:29:00] start turning things around and. Definitely not positive thinking. This is definitely not positive psychology.
This is definitely not, not self-help, that's just instantaneous stuff. This is basically a lifestyle. This is a lifestyle of, um, with my mind, I wake up, but you're the one who wakes up with your mind in the middle of the night. And you're worrying about stuff. You're not with your therapist. So you're not with, maybe you don't have someone around you that you can talk to.
You've got to know how to manage your mind in those moments, as well as dealing with those traumas and those toxic habits. Building the new habits, there's a process involved. And that's what the neuro cycle is. It's the delivery system. It's how you corral the power of the mind to get wise mind talking to the
JJ Virgin: So this, so the process, like how. Can you kind of give us an overview.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: What's a super easy entry level into this is in the book on page. I don't know what page it is. There's a, I've got a chart. Here we go. It's on page for those of people that do have the book [00:30:00] already page 181 but basically there's a chart in the second half
JJ Virgin: And just for everybody listening, this is called Cleaning up Your Mental Mess. If you're not able to watch, if you can watch the video, she's got all sorts of fun props, but it's Cleaning up Your Mental Mess is the book.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Absolutely. And there's a chart. The first half of the book explains kind of the stuff I've been telling you. And the second half is what is the neurocycle and how does it work with tons of examples, how to use it for big T trauma and small T trauma and acute trauma, toxic habits and building new habits.
And I know you teach people how to build new lifestyle habits, and there's also that.
JJ Virgin: I'm looking at this with the foundation for everything. It seems like to me.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: It's an overlay
it's if you're alive, you need to know how to direct what you've your aliveness. This is pretty much teaching you to do that.
So as you start using it for like the big stuff that traumas and things, you, the system, then you start seeing, oh, I can use this all the time. I mean, we had a situation today. Quite a major one. I still do clinic research and I had a major issue with all we needed. We thought we had lost a whole [00:31:00] lot of data from a trial.
And like, you don't want to lose data and that obviously can be recovered. But I mean, immediately I had like a panic attack. So I did the neuro cycle then with honestly, within five seconds, I was back under control and we sold it with my team and that's the kind of thing. So you can apply. All the time.
Cause it's basically, how am I going to get my wise mind working when you need to solve a crisis, you need wisdom. You don't need chaos in your mind. And you also need to accept that there's experimentation. There's so much harshness in the mental health message at the moment of, you know, if you, even though they're trying to de-stigmatize, but it's, if you have.
a mental health issue, it's considered a disease and then there's no space for that. People think you're crazy. People have. Where do people think you're different? People think you may be dangerous. That's terrible because all of us, 100% of people are battling with our mind, depression, anxiety, et cetera, all normal. So that's kind of part of the philosophy.
So essentially the. The process is you still do all the meditation and the breathing. All those are extremely important because they work on the neurochemistry [00:32:00] and the neurophysiology and the brain, body integration and the mind brain, body integration. So I call that brain preparation. The problem comes in in that you can't just solve, manage and overstress life or the challenges we've been put through in COVID.
The mental health issues that, that has increased anxiety is tripled anxiety or everyone experiences, but extreme anxiety, um, has, has it has tripled. And when I say everyone meant just very quickly, when I say everyone experiences, anxiety, depression, et cetera, let's level the playing fields. No one's exempt.
If you think of this on a scale of zero to 10 on one side and zero to minus 10, on the other side, most of us have around the minus four plus four. Anxiety state. So things got up and down. So I had a high, extreme anxiety state with that loss of data potential. And then I calmed down and went back to plus four.
When I found it, I was super excited, in fact plus 10, I was so excited. So, you know, the move, that's all manageable, kind of like levels out, but sometimes we have an accumulation of things that throw us down the scale into the minus five to 10 [00:33:00] and that, and that can result in extreme. Exactly depression, panic attacks, even things like disassociation extreme sets still doesn't mean you mentally crazy.
It just means that you broken and you need to process that and heal through the various different modalities, but you still need mind management. So you still need to be able to manage your mind and understand, so that philosophy of accepting what you're going through and recognizing those symptoms as warning, those anxiety, depression, et cetera, as warning signals, as opposed to illnesses as helpful.
messages telling you something to prompt you to become a thought detective is very overarching in the philosophy of the neuro cycle so everything's okay. All of us have gossiped at times. All of us have felt guilty. All of us. It's that philosophy. It's be kind to yourself. It's stand back and observe yourself, which is called the multiple perspective advantage.
So you don't dive in to management of your life with a hard, I've got to compete. I've got to beat. I've got to get this right. I've got that hardness on yourself. Has to go because it just destroys your physiology and [00:34:00] resilience. It's all about it's okay. I'm a human I'm messing, messing up. And it's part of my neurology.
I'm allowed to mess up. It's actually part of my design. So now I've got to what is also part of my design is managing the mess. So it's very important. You come into it with that. Then each step has been meticulously. That's all been studied. So then, so that's the attitude coming. Kind accepting helpful messenger.
It's okay. Then you prepare your brain and your body, and that's where you can do that. Breathing and meditation and tapping and havening. And in the app, I have a neurosurgical ethic goes that you can get, that's got the neuroscience in it as well. We are literally walk you through like therapy in there.
Do a little two to three minute preparation, brain preparation, different little exercises that you can do. And there's examples in the book. There's a host app that you can find a million different exercises. The point is prepare your brain before you just dive in. If you're doing a big work, like doing, working on a trauma, prepare your brain, and then you go into the neuro cycle and then you're a cycle.
Each step is systematic. As you do [00:35:00] each step, it's been designed that you, that you activate the two sides of the brain. So for those of you listening, Put your hands on your, on your front of your head, above your eyes. What you want is you want coherence between the two sides of the brain. We have 200 different little areas.
Across our brain that are specialized uniquely for you. And when you think in your unique, you think, feel and choose and your unique way you activate those. And what we want is a very nice balance of energy in the fourth brainwaves data, Delta alphabet, again, a high gamma high beta across those areas in, in the PAC networks for you.
And that, and that comes from your own wise mind. As you step into a wise mind, you get this flow. So even if you're in chaos and depression, when you step into a wise mind, the overarching pattern that in your brain will be one of, of this clarity of this, of this brainwave activity that is going to help you process, which then increases blood flow and oxygen, and then sends a message to your, the rest of your neurophysiology.
Controls the cortisol and the [00:36:00] information and the, you know, the heart palpitations. So you get a beautiful downstream effect and you start getting all these, your body starts working for you instead of against you doesn't mean that you solve the problem yet you still may be gasping with fear. Totally depressed, not able to move, but you've shifted your physiology enough a little bit at a time to start getting more resilience, to be able to face the issue.
And so each step has been designed to help to increase the levels of this more and more interaction between the two sides of the. 200 sections of the brain, the physiology between the brain and the body and all that stuff. And even down to the level of telomeres, which are on your chromosomes, which are very important in cell division and we making a million plus cells every second and the quality of their cells is dependent on our mind management.
So that's all very important to come in overarching attitude. Then the steps are really simple. Each step. You're going to understand when you hear it, but when you do. As you get into the system, you'll start seeing the depth and complexity. The first thing is to [00:37:00] gather awareness. The second thing is to reflect a certain four step or specific rights steps.
The first one is like a vomit. You just literally vomit on the page and this branched format and the force written step is an organizational, almost like a mental autopsy step. And the first step is a closure point. It's like an action to con that's the work I've done today. Now I stop. You're not mean to be doing heavy work all day long, and that leads to rumination.
Thinking and make it even more depressed. And our brain also runs out of energy. You need to restore your brain. So you've got to limit the time that you spend doing heavy work. So when you use the neuro cycle for heavy work, it's limited amounts of time, 15 to 45 minutes, max, when you use the neuro cycle, Day-to-day living.
You can, you'll do it. You can do it all day long. And then you're doing it in little five seconds or a minute long bursts just to manage, manage something. So maybe for example, you read it a social media post. And at this, like this wave of jealousy comes up and it like overwhelms you your now you feel mad and angry and useless and all the rest of it [00:38:00] instead of.
Disturbing the rest of your day, you can do a quick neuro cycle to gather awareness of those emotions. You're feeding off your behavioral symptoms of your physical symptoms, of your perspective, and then going into effective. Why do I feel like this is a reason? If you're feeling envious, there's a reason this is the most beautiful thing.
And hopefully. Everything you experienced has a reason it's there somewhere. So if you feeding the senior, it's not asking in the reflect question, you'd start asking questions. Like, okay, well, why do I keep feeling this? Is this a pattern? You know, am I doing this? When am I? And then you start getting, asking, answering, and discussing and in edit you limit the time.
So that's the beauty of this thing is you'd spend, like, let's say, let's say it's the 15 to 45 minutes session. It's a, like a heavy trauma that you're working through. New recognize you, it's such a depression. You can't get out of bed or you're so anxious that you, you just can't even function. So there's a very clear pattern that is creating dysfunction.
And that's when you would do the 15 to 45 minutes, um, your cycle daily and you do it over 21 days. For the first 21 days you do the [00:39:00] 15 to 45 minutes or five steps, but you're not finished. The, you have to then do another 42 days at least. So another taking you up to roundabout nine weeks, 63 days where you do just basically step five.
And what's the logic there for the timeframe is, and I was talking about time earlier on is that that's kind of how long it takes to re unwire and rebuild. Our brain, otherwise these patterns, if you don't spend long enough, they just keep coming back and you keep falling back and you feel stuck. So to rewire a pattern, you have to use your wise mind to gather awareness, which is the first step of these patterns in your life and the detail of those patterns.
And then you've got to pull them apart. You've got to reflect on them to deconstruct them, ask on, to discuss. Why am I having this? Why, why, why? And then write that down. The first writing phase, as I said is very, it's kind of like this mind dump you just throw words on the page, but you put them on branches and it's incredible when you start in the middle of the page with a circle and you just grow these branches like a tree, and just put words on these branches, it just reveals.[00:40:00]
Draws your introspective levels to another, another depth. And it pulls the sides of the brain together that you pull stuff out of your non-conscious mind that you didn't even know was there. So it starts helping you dig into the wisdom of your unconscious mind. And the more you do it, the more you see this happening at first, it feels like weird, but as you did more and more it's one of it's incredibly powerful and insightful.
We would have, um, when I was still practicing, I'd have patients that had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and they'd had completely broken because of terrible, terrible abuse. Five or six personalities and they were non-functional through this process of neuropsyche and this is extreme. We would, I would take them through the process and in the medical part with their writing, we would see them shift between the different personalities.
Now we had a visual cause you write it down and we be able to say, okay, look, this. These the shift. And that would be the, that would be the turning point where they would see, okay, that's what I've shifted. That's half disassociated. Now I can reconnect. And we'll sometimes do that. We'd be to cope. We have all these patterns, you know, so that's the extreme level.
Now you can use it on [00:41:00] this, these, these levels where you can help yourself. And then, you know, the fourth step is then to try and make sense of all these things that you've put on the page. So you come in and you find. Patterns and antidotes and you don't, you're not going to sell this on day one on day one.
You may just get to the point of, okay. I'm depressed like a lot. These are my physical symptoms. This is my perspective. This is, I think I'm doing it. There's something going on. I think it's got something to do with something that happened in childhood, or maybe it's at work. I don't know yet, but there's something going on and your final active reach would be okay.
I'm not depression. There's a reason. And that's a fantastic, active reach. But they say when you started to see, okay, Experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety and frustration because of, and you starting to see maybe some of the roots, but at 21, you've got a pretty good handle on the main reason why you expressing that.
And you've deconstructed this on a neuroscientific level. What's happening is that as you gather witness and reflect and do the two levels of writing and the active reach, and you do the secretly, you are putting. Brain protein [00:42:00] structure, tree thing into your conscious mind. At the same time you pulling up from your body, what's stored in your DNA.
And as soon as you're aware, a beautiful neuroscientific thing happens, these branches become weakened totally weakened, which means you can take. So you now get agency. So instead of a suppress thought, getting more toxic and controlling you, you now are controlling that issue. You swap the power balance, and as soon as you feel more in control, you can then look at that toxic issue and all the barriers that it presents.
And you can start saying, okay, What is this? What is going on here? And you can start finding the reason, a very important thing to do as you're doing this is to go into literally like a therapeutic mode. You can even often suggest they used to do this with my patients, put two chairs next to each other and use it in one and use it in the other.
You can both, but one of you is the messy mind. One of you is the wise mind and the wise mind is sitting and holding the hand of the messy mind saying it's okay. It's okay. You're okay. Let's talk about this together. And you use you, you don't say hi, you don't say I am depressed. [00:43:00] You say you're feeling depressed.
You're feeling frustrated. Let's gather the web. Let's gather those symptoms, you know, so it's a shift. So there's a lot of that languaging that enables us to shift and get into a Wiseman. This sort of distancing and separation and multiple perspective advantage these things I'm describing being kind or creates a different neurophysiological mindset that enables you to have more resilience.
Now, your mind's incredibly brilliant and your brain is brilliant. Is it? Your brain is structured in a phenomenally complex ways. You can't say your brain is brilliant because it doesn't do anything. At least you are alive, but it's structured in such a complex way to match your brilliance. So when you are.
And your natural brilliance is drawing you towards survival to get through the TBI, to get through this trauma, to, to survive, to just have a life that you feel level of peace, that you can have a fair, you know, we all can accept. Everything's not going to be perfect all the time, but we don't want to be in the state where we feel like I just can't cope it.
We want to feel okay, this has happened. How can I get through it? Then we don't feel completely crushed. That's kind of thing I'm talking about. You're how can we. Do that all the [00:44:00] time. And that a huge part of that is the recognition of how do I access the wise mind and a lot of spiritual teachings and stuff.
We'll talk about, you know, the breathing and the yoga. All that, as I said is, is I'm not eliminating. It is essential to get. Physiological body working with brain and mind, but you can't just bring it up. You have to bring it up and you have to do something with it. So the brain preparation is helping to bring it up and get your body physiologically.
Reading neurophysiologically together. Wellness is bringing it up. So these become malleable and changeable. And then the balance as you miss particularly works through the five-step process over the 63 days, you then. Going beyond. So it's beyond just awareness. There's a lot of research showing and my research shows a two.
If you just become aware of stuff and it throws you in psych, I can handle this and you shove it down and it goes back even more toxic than before these are volcanoes. Eventually the volcano would erupt. Eventually the volcano will erupt and it, and the larva will pour out. But the beauty of that is even if you have [00:45:00] done that, you can still repair.
Obviously you want to try and be proactive as much as possible, but if it's already happened in the. Pouring out the volcano, eventually the volcano runs out. So then, you know, when you start going to therapy, in a sense you are, and you do this, my management, in a sense, you are allowing the suppressed volcano.
That's been bubbling to explode. You're allowing the lava to come out. And eventually what happens with is where there's been law, but generally. Beautiful green, incredible greenfields going over the logo. We see this in Iceland. I was there a few years ago. Went we've drove over an area that was an active volcano.
It was beautiful that volcano has no erected, so it's lava, but in a few years' time, it will be green fields again. And that's kind of the concept that's happening over here. Okay. So that's a lot that I've said, and I can, I can talk a lot.
JJ Virgin: This is fabulous. Um, and clearly, obviously everyone needs this book and the app can guide you through.
If someone [00:46:00] goes through this, so they say they grab this pressing issue in the messy brain that I'm assuming they notice something. And I'm assuming as they go through that, it's probably tied into a whole lot of old trauma around a piece. So there's, there's some symptom that they're like, whether it's like anger, jealous, Sadness anxiety, and they're like, okay, let's, I'll dive into that. They go through the 63 days, they really uncover the root of it. They go through all your process. It is, are they, is this done or do they then get the next thing and go through the 63 days? Cause it seems like this is kind of an ongoing thing. It's ongoing because you can hear these things like you go through the 63 days, you kind of clear that.
And I just wonder, like, if you had that trauma, how much that one trauma has created. All sorts of different things in your life.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: You've hit the nail on the head. So what will happen is some it's sometimes in that 63 day cycle, you might just, I'm holding up the tree now, toxic tree, [00:47:00] and I'm just pointing to one corner of the tree. So the root system, you may only that that may be all that you deal with in there. 21, the, for 61st, 63 days cycle, you then see, okay, there's more and you come back and do another, and then you'll come back and do another, and then you come back and it's finally, you've kind of, okay, well, I think that's all of it with that, but this is how.
So eventually see what happens is this tree survives on energy. So you've got to keep it, give it, give it energy. So if I, now I'm pulling it apart, the energy, the principle, the law of energies that it's always transferred, it's never lost. So that I'm transferring that.
So by deconstructing, going through the five steps of the neuro cycle daily, I'm taking energy from this and I'm rebuilding a healthy thought. So it's gone from there to there. So this is still my story. This is where. Part of it that, that dark toxic tree is now tiny little green tree inside how I want my life to look how I want the future to play out how I want to react.
And that's what you do over the sort of 21 days where you do the in depth, 45 minutes a [00:48:00] day, kind of work, 15 to 45 minutes. The second 42 days, a second sort of phase you spend around about one to seven. Practicing this new, this new behavior, this new way of thinking this new thought tree. So to turn it into a habit to automatization is the scientific word for habit formation.
We don't change a behavior unless you form a habit. We all know that. So how long does it take to form a habit? Not 21 days. It takes 21 days to kind of work out what we're supposed to be changing it into. And then you're going to spend the other 42. Practicing using that to, to give the behavior change and that behavior change, maybe just one tiny thing.
It's just the, it may be one part of the tumor response that you have. And that's what you quite rightly said. Now, you see, Hey, I can see that this has impacted there. So you go and start that again. And then. Keep going and then something traumatic happens in your life. COVID hits us. And that changes things that is another tumor.
In other words, Thomas part of our life. And that's that we don't speak about sufficiently either there's little and big tumors. And I mean, just caring for someone, maybe who's sick in your life, or just [00:49:00] repeatedly having arguments, going to your face. Maybe your marriage, where you've got a lot of arguments or being in a work environment where you have a difficult colleague or I don't know, I'm just kind of putting things out the head or just reading politics, just some, you know, if you get to most in politics and the arguments that you need.
Politicians at different
generational trauma.
Oh my gosh. Oh.
JJ Virgin: So super exciting. Um, when you garb the book and I'm going to give you the link on how to purchase the book, you will get a workbook to help you work through this. And of course, I highly recommend grabbing the neuro cycle app as well. So you'll be able to do that @jjvirgin.com/DrLeaf L E a F. It's very, very cute. How you have all the trees and the leaves and everything else.
Like how [00:50:00] did you plan that? I have
Dr. Caroline Leaf: people ask me, did I call it because my, my maiden name is Beretta and I was going to keep that. And then this is kind of like, um, it just worked out. My husband's name is leaf, so it just out, I know it's so key people think I changed my name. I've been asked for a very, very good name,
JJ Virgin: me too. But mine's a little different Virgin leaf. Really similar. Alright, well, this was, this was amazing. What in, like what, uh, what a legacy work you've put together. Like. This is incredible. I, I had no idea that I think when my friend, Dr. Anna Cabeca was, you should meet her.
I'm like, I don't know how I haven't met her. So I super appreciate this. I hope that sometime in the next six months, we actually get to meet in person my fingers. And, uh, man, thank you for your brilliant and your work. And I'm really excited to try this myself, not try it, [00:51:00] work with it myself, and work with it with my son.
Cause that's one of the things I've been looking at. It's like the trauma he's gone through, like we all went through it. How do we help ourselves?
Dr. Caroline Leaf: The whole family. And there's also a chapter in the book on brain building, which a lot of the that's a lot of that work is based on the work I did with traumatic brain injury. So that may be a really nice chapter for your son to dive into as well. And we have on the app, there's actually going to be a lot of stuff added in the XV, organic stability, all the terms, really a ton on it that you'll be putting a lot of brain building exercises on as well. So it just helps all of the thank you.
I've enjoyed this interview and so lovely to meet you and yeah, and I've interviewed Anna she's interviewed me. So we've got, as you said, some common friends.
JJ Virgin: Well come to Florida.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: Oh, I will. I will. We actually were supposed to be there last weekend, but didn't get becoming again in a couple of weeks. So let's see.
We come off into Florida, so I will thank you. Lovely to meet you. Bye.
JJ Virgin: All right. I [00:52:00] kind of feel like saying, I told you so like, was that, um, mind blowing or. What I don't know if mind blowing is quite the word you should be using in this example. Anyway, be sure you go to JJ virgin.com for slash Dr. Leaf. Grab her book. You'll be able to get the workbook for free dial into that app.
Dr. Caroline Leaf: The neuro cycle outcome. And I'd love to hear what this does for you. I've been just really focused on a meditation practice, um, after doing a week long, Dr. Joe Dispenza workshop, and now going back for number two. So this seems like the perfect thing to integrate in with that. So, Here's to all of our success.
All right. If you've not subscribed to the podcast yet it's easy. Go to subscribe to jj.com and I'll see you next time. Bye .

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