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Episode 191
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Practice Radical Acceptance In All Areas Of Life

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

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It can be really scary to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts. The stories that keep us suffering can sometimes get louder than ever when we aren’t embracing distraction, and we usually try to push them away.

But what can help break this pattern is to stop being at war with the moment, just letting our feelings be without buying into the beliefs that come with them.

This is one part of the process of radical acceptance, a topic I was excited to dive into today with the one and only Tara Brach.

Our conversation is a look at what it means to dig through the darkness to discover the light. Tara shares her own story of realizing she was in a trance of unworthiness, learning what it felt like to get her mind and body in the same place at the same time, and awakening to the possibility of a new story for herself.

We talk about fear and self-doubt and how this impacts our connections with ourselves and others. Tara’s work is an invitation for a different way of thinking, to accept our feelings in the moment, let go of negative narratives, and think about what is holding us back from joy, love, and happiness.

It takes some work to change years of conditioned thoughts and emotional and behavioral patterns. Tara and I talk about her RAIN technique for working through challenging times with love and inquiry. It stands for recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture, and she breaks down each step in more detail throughout this episode.

I’m currently in the active process of re-examining how I think about myself, what I want with my career, relationships, community, and where I want to be in the world. This episode felt very meaningful for me; I hope you feel the same.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. How suffering and “the trance of unworthiness” led Tara to mindfulness
    (6:14)
  2. The power that cultural conditioning has over our thoughts and beliefs
    (12:37)
  3. The type of beliefs that cause the most suffering
    (18:41)
  4. Practicing radical acceptance of what is, without buying into thoughts and beliefs about what is
    (19:52)
  5. Accepting and facing the fear of pausing to sit with what is
    (31:28)
  6. Changing our brains, minds, hearts, and consciousness through the practice of RAIN
    (38:58)
  7. The pervasiveness of disassociation, trauma, and PTSD in our society and how we can move through it to come back to our body and access our wholeness
    (49:10)
  8. The greatest gift we can give to each other
    (1:04:10)
  9. Practicing radical acceptance in the context of a troubled and divisive world
    (1:08:01)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Tara Brach

Tara Brach holds a PhD in clinical psychology and teaches meditation internationally. Founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW), Tara is the author of the bestsellers Radical Acceptance, Radical Compassion, True Refuge, and her new book, Trusting the Gold. Tara’s weekly podcasts are downloaded over two million times each month.

Show Notes

  1. Get your copy of Trusting the Gold: Uncovering Your Natural Goodness

Transcript

Tara:
Being outside, moving on this earth is really the healing recipe pretty much for all of us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I want to talk about some of the challenges we face. A lot of us have these negative and harmful stories. I’m definitely a victim of that. And there are stories that I tell myself that are not necessarily true, but they keep me suffering. So how do we release those stories and the imprisonment that we have in our emotional states that we get from the thinking of these stories, the repeating of these stories?

Tara:
And that’s what happens, is we have stories that come with feelings in our body that lead to behaviors. And we get very trapped so that people come to me, and their deepest despair is that they’re still playing the same pattern that they were playing when they were 16. They’re doing the same ways of avoiding intimacy, or of clinging onto somebody, or the same addictive eating, or whatever it is. And so we do need to interrupt the patterns with some intentional way of deepening attention. And what I mean by that is we need to be able to pause and find some way of witnessing and noticing with kindness what’s going on, because even a little bit of an interruption actually changes the neural pathways around. This is the great discovery of neuroplasticity. We actually can change our brains, and our minds, and our hearts, and our consciousness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tara:
So the practice that I teach a lot that weaves together, coming into that presence and kindness, is RAIN, which I know you know about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
RAIN, yeah. Can you share what that is?

Tara:
Yeah, it’s so powerful. If you’re stuck in a pattern that’s causing suffering, RAIN, again, it’s a weave of mindfulness and self-compassion. And the letters, it’s an acronym, are recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture. And I’ll give you an example of RAIN. I’ll give you a personal example. Through the pandemic, people have used RAIN a lot. So I get people telling me, “RAIN has saved my life.” Well, when my mother moved down here, and this was… Oh, she moved down here when she was maybe 78 or 80. She came right at a time I was super busy. I was trying to put together all the material for a new book and so on. And I was really torn because I was feeling very guilty about not spending enough time with her, and I was also feeling anxious about getting work done and coming through on my teachings.

Tara:
Now, this is a basic cluster for me. If you say, “What are your issues?” Guilt. I am very programmed to want to come through for everybody. I get a lot of anxiety when I feel like I’m falling short. So, that’s a whole story cluster. And then the other one is, on the Enneagram, if you’re familiar, is I’m a three, which is a performer who wants to make sure she’s coming across well. And so I get anxious about not being prepared. So, those were plan-out. And I remember one day I was right here in my office and she came in. She was living here then, and she had a New Yorker article she wanted to show me. And I was completely focused on my screen writing a talk, believe it or not on loving kindness, which is embarrassing. That’s what I was doing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
“Get out of here.” You are busy. [crosstalk 00:04:01].

Tara:
Right, “You’re in my way.” And so she was very discreet. She just put it down and started retreating. And I turned and I saw her and I thought, “Wow, I don’t know how long I’ll have her.” So after she left, I did a practice with RAIN, and the recognize recognizing, okay, guilt, but also anxious. The allow is just what we were talking about earlier, Mark, which is, okay just let it be here. This is the reality of this moment. It’s here. Just not try to judge it or ignore it. Okay, anxiety, guilt. The investigate, it’s not cognitive. That’s an important piece. It’s cognitive only… You might identify what you’re believing, and for me I was believing, well, I’m letting her down, but I’m also could fail. But it’s mostly sematic.

Tara:
With investigate, you’re investigating, how am I experiencing this directly in my body? And for me, excuse me, I could feel the clutch in my chest, and just the tightness and breathing with it, letting it be there, and really sensing what that part of me, that anxious, guilty place needed. And what it really needed was to be reminded of my goodness, that I was a loving being and that the truth would flow through in teaching. It wasn’t going to take a whole lot of selfing to do it. And so that was the nurturing.

Tara:
The nurturing was, I like to put my hand on my heart and I often teach it with nurturing, the self-compassion just to say, “It’s okay, sweetheart. Just trust your goodness.” And right, there’s a piece with RAIN where I call it after the RAIN, where you just sense the presence that is emerging. And after that kind of presence and compassion, I could just feel I was resting in a much larger, more peaceful, more spacious, more tender place. And I practice this a lot more for a few months when my mom… This is still the early days of her being here, and I found that I started really showing up more.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Tara:
We could have our salads in the evening, these giant salads, and I’d just be present. And we’d go for our walks by the river. And she died maybe three years later, and deep grief of course, but not regrets. And I realized that RAIN had saved my life moments with my mother.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Tara:
It had really given me that. And so it’s just an example of how I had been caught in the stories and the feelings. And by interrupting with RAIN, which is just mindfulness and compassion, it really shifted my inner patterning.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. That’s beautiful. I mean, it’s a beautiful way of framing, a way of investigating and thinking about any feelings we’re having or any emotions or any thoughts we’re having. It’s just like a deliberate clear practice, now recognize-

Tara:
Allow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… allow, and investigate, and nurture. They’re really simple ideas, but they’re really powerful. I’m moved by that, thinking about applying that to things that I’ve challenged with. So I think it’s great.

Tara:
One of the things about it that’s helpful to people is that when we’re triggered, we have very little access to a prefrontal cortex. We forget how to get back home again. And so this gives a pretty easy to remember sequence. It’s not inviolable. If once you go deeper into the practice, you’ll find that it’s not so logically ABCD, but doesn’t matter, there’s still a way in which those elements are crucial. Now, if there’s trauma, if the triggering is traumatic, you actually have to start with the nurturing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
You have to start by creating more safety before you dive in and try to feel the feelings. And that’s an important thing for people to know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow. Yeah. So soon as the order is different of how you engage with our practice, right? Sometimes the dark in the shadows is where the light actually starts to come in. And I know you’ve suffered a number of really challenging situations in your life. Your mother’s alcoholism, miscarriage, genetic issues that you have that you struggle with. I’ve certainly had issues of health crises, and family issues, and relationship stuff, and just life itself. And some people can be really in some ways poisoned by those experiences and turn dark, and bitter, and angry, and hurt, and isolated. And yet many people find a different way out of those experiences into a very different way of being. So for you, how your hardship shaped you and how have those difficulties led you to find your way towards mindfulness.

Tara:
Well, first I want to agree with you that the suffering does have a potential to wake us up. And, well, maybe just to give you an example of how I got turned towards mindfulness. When I was in college, I was probably peaking in angst. I wasn’t alone, I had many others angsting. But depression, anxiety, and it really the hub of it was just a lot of self hatred. And I remember at one point being on a camping trip with a friend who said, “I’m learning to be my own best friend,” and how far I was from that. So it just opened up my eyes to, “Oh my gosh, I hate my body. I feel like I’m failing in my relationships with others. Compulsively overeating.” Just every front. So, that was a real pit of suffering.

Tara:
And interestingly, at the same time, I was very much a social activist. So I was out there, and on the weekends we’d have rallies. And there was a lot of agitation there. But I started doing a yoga class. So weekends, I was agitated, and then Tuesday nights. And it was yoga and meditation. And I remember one night, Mark, where I was, it was right after class, walking home, and it was spring and fragrance of the fruit trees. And I stopped and realized that my body and my mind were in the same place at the same time.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow. What a discovery.

Tara:
Amazing. And with that, just such a feeling of peace and belonging to the world. And what really hit me then was, if we want to change our world, it really has to come from a consciousness that is feeling love and connectedness, not agitation and shaking a fist to bad enemy others.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Tara:
So it was those two things together. The sense of this is really who I can be, and also being at war with myself that I made a 180 degree. I was on my way to law school and I ended up in an Ashram for 10 years.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Tara:
Yeah, it was a big shift.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s it. A law school to Ashram. That side. You couldn’t get further apart. I don’t think, right?

Tara:
I know. I keep double taking on it. But yeah, that’s what happened. And in a way I understand it now, because I’m still really very dedicated to social change. And I know we have to keep on waking up our hearts in order to have it come from love, not from anger and hatred.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean you touched on a little bit about the self-worth issue. And I think people have different degrees of self-worth or lack of self-worth. And often they’re not even aware of… And I think it was true for me… where the lack of self-worth lives. And I’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s fairly confident in myself and my abilities, that I love myself, that I feel like I have high levels of self-worth, but there was a lot of areas where I really wasn’t showing up that way. And it really was hard for me to see it. And I think you call this the trance of unworthiness, that you were caught in this trance about… where there was something obviously wrong with life, with you. How did you first wake into the idea that you could let go of that story and really accept yourself?

Tara:
Well, for a lot of us, it’s like what you said, it doesn’t necessarily appear to us. And the reason I call it a trance is because most people if I asked them, I do this at workshops, how many of you judge yourself, and like 98% of the hands will go up. But what people don’t realize is that there’s often this undercurrent of comparing ourselves to some idealized standard of who we should be, or how we should feel, or what we should be, how we should be behaving in this moment. It’s like this inner monitor. Like right now, as we’re doing this, there’s a background, inner monitor that in some ways is evaluating, “So, how’s it going?” That kind of a thing. And often we’re not aware that there’s a gap between how we want ourselves to be and how we’re showing up. We’re just not aware of it. And it can affect everything because we’re social beings and we want to be accepted and loved. And if we feel we’re falling short, it’s profoundly threatening.

Tara:
And so, we’re not aware that there’s that kind of fear and self-doubt. And it impacts how close we can feel with others, and it impacts how much risk we can take at work, or our willingness to be creative. Just our ability to relax in the moment, if we think we’re in some way in the red and we have to make up for it. So it’s a trance. And the cool thing is that when we shine a light on it and even get that there’s this trans going on, there is something in us that has a yearning to be free from it. And it starts activating healing. So just seeing the trance is the beginning of freeing from it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So in a way, some way, when you’re saying that people don’t recognize that they are engaged in this battle with themselves against themselves, that they judge themselves, that they criticize themselves, that they see themselves in ways that are less than, and that they’re measuring themselves against some standard of themselves that it’s just a fantasy, and that that disconnect, that disparity is what causes suffering for people. And then they’re not even aware that they’re doing it.

Tara:
And that we all have been fed those standards. It’s like I’m not thinking my thoughts, I’m thinking society’s thoughts about how I should be. And we all have been conditioned by the same culture that says, produce more, and look this way, and act this way, and everything from how skinny we should be to how spiritual we should be. We have these standards and our family is the messenger. And so they imprinted in a certain kind of constellation, but it’s in there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It is so true. I mean, we go through life thinking that our beliefs, our ideas, our feelings, our thoughts are all original, they come from us, that we don’t realize how powerfully conditioned we are to behave and think and act in certain ways. And if you travel a lot, if you meet people from different cultures, especially radically different cultures, not Western cultures, you begin to see that, well, it’s a really whole set of different assumptions and beliefs and feelings and thoughts about life. I mean, I was just in Sardinia, and I was up in the mountains. And I was with this shepherd and we’re sitting there talking about his life and what it’s like. And I said, “So, do you have any stress?” He’s got like 200 goats and sheep. He thought about it and he’s like… Almost it was a puzzling question for him. And he says, “Well, sometimes at night when a goat wanders off, I had to go find it. That’s stressful.”

Tara:
Oh my God.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
“And then sometimes it’s when the goats give birth and we have to move the mothers close to the house, and then they wake us up in the night and we have to go help them.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay.” So, it’s like we are just in such different worlds than he, just had such a glow about him, such a sereneness, and his whole family was there helping with their home and the whole shepherding thing. And I was like, “Wow.” We really have different points of cultural reference about life and joy and happiness and meaning. And we’ve all gotten… I was talking about this today, Tara, I was thinking about how people from other cultures are quite different. So when I meet people from different cultures, I’m like, “Wow.” Their frame of reference, their way of seeing the world. They’re seeing the world through their eyes because we have very different perspective about life.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it’s liberating because I realize that all of my beliefs, thoughts of what I should do, my notions, beliefs, ideas about how life should be, what I should be, what I should be doing or not doing, are so programmed and ingrained. And never really begun to question that, or question those thoughts about them. You asked me before we started the podcast, what am I doing now? And I’m really in active process of really examining those beliefs, assumptions, my thoughts around everything, around my life, around love, around work, around where I want to be, what I want to be doing. And it’s a very confronting experience, because rather than just being in your life, you’re being witnessed to what’s actually happening, and you’re going, “Wait a minute, is there a different way of thinking?” And it’s what your work is really about, is inviting people into a different way of thinking about themselves, life, and what keeps them from joy and happiness and love.

Tara:
Well, and I love the way you’re describing it, whether we call it the practice of pausing and breaking out of our routines by traveling and experiencing other cultures, or pausing and breaking out of our routines by meditating and just bearing witness to the patterns in our own psyche, or pausing and breaking out of our patterns by being with people who are different from us, because we live in cocoons of people that are very similar, most of us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Exactly.

Tara:
And it’s only when we start truly engaging and really listening, really curious to say, “What’s it like being you,” that we start getting a real flash of, “Oh, I’m living inside that particular box.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
I mean, that’s why it’s so hard for many people to recognize their own racism. Of course, we’re all racist, we’re all programmed in a certain way. And yet it’s not unless we start really investigating and engaging with people who see our cast system from a different angle that we really get where we are in it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it’s so true. And I think that your work is very similar to a lot of other things I’ve experienced, which is questioning your thoughts and your beliefs. And Byron Katie has that, what you call as The Work. And we’ve had her on the podcast where she talks about how we should be curious about our thoughts. Are they true? And my friend, Dana Laymans talks about not believing every stupid thought you have. We tend to think of them as things that are constructs, that are so solid and rigid and real and true, but they’re often not, and they’re often, like you said, reconditioned. So talk to us about how you came to this idea of radical acceptance, and what it is, and how do people invite that into their experience.

Tara:
Sure. And just to think about beliefs, one of the biggest breakthroughs and freedoms I see in people is sometimes it comes after a retreat where they’re quiet and just being present is the realization I am not my thoughts.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
I am not my thoughts, I don’t have to believe these beliefs, because there’s such a prison. And I think the beliefs that cause the most suffering are the ones that make us feel separate.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
And they always have to do with a belief that in some way I am off, something’s wrong with me. One woman who was with her mother when her mother was dying, she was in a coma, she came out of her coma and had that lucidity sometimes people have for a moment, looked her in the eye and said, “All my life, I thought something was wrong with me.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow. A woman who was dying said, “All my life I thought something was wrong with me.” Wow.

Tara:
And those are her last words, Mark. That was the last thing she-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, because she probably realized there wasn’t, right? She probably had it at some near death or almost dying experience where she realized what it was all about, right?

Tara:
That’s exactly it. She got big enough. She was inhabiting a larger awareness that saw, “Oh, that’s what I was believing.” And for her daughter, it was tragic and also a kind of gift, because it says that there’s a belief there but there are ways to wake up out of our beliefs. And so radical acceptance is a way of saying basically, it’s this inner quality in us of awake awareness that is very allowing in the present moment. It just absolutely allows whatever is here right now to be here. It doesn’t make war with how it is. It doesn’t add a belief that this is wrong or bad. So if I’m feeling right now, let’s say, self-consciousness or ashamed that I’m not coming through in some way, radical acceptance sees that and lets the feelings be there. But it doesn’t buy into the belief. It just lets what’s here be here.

Tara:
And what we find is that it’s the precursor, it’s what has to be there before true change can happen. Carl Rogers put it this way, that I had to accept myself just as I was to be free to change. It’s the precursor to change, is that this moment we radically unconditionally allow the moment to be as it is. We’re not at war with the moment. So, that was my first book because I was seeing how at war we always are, like I don’t want it this way, I want to be different, I should be different, you should be different. Stopping the war.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s an interesting frame. And it’s hard to do because what you’re essentially saying is whatever is happening in your life in the moment is okay. And that you can accept it while still being in the process of transformation, right? I mean, yesterday was a great day for me because I had to do that. I had to practice exactly what you’re saying. I woke up, I felt okay and I went for daily activity and then I had a dental implant. It started to come out and it was painful and uncomfortable. And I think I didn’t feel well, I maybe was not infected. I don’t know what was going on. I just felt like crap. My day wasn’t going very well and I had to move. It was a very disrupted day. And I just was like, “Okay, this is what’s happening right now for me. This is just my life in this moment and it will be different tomorrow.” And it’s like that level of just not fighting what is.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I could have gotten so upset about the implant that it fell out, and I’m going to have to go through this again, or maybe I’ll never be able to get a tooth or whatever. It was like I could go through a whole story, but I was like, “Oh, well this is what’s happening. My tooth is doing this.” And I could be pissed about it. I could be angry about it. I mean it was interesting. I was talking to a friend yesterday, who I was chatting with, and all of a sudden she had to go, and she missed her flight. And she freaked out. And she didn’t just go, “Okay, this is what’s happening. Let me see what’s next.” It was like a huge source of anxiety and stress and trauma rather than just like, “Oh, this is what’s happening.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I had 12 days playing with really close friends and we’d planned for a long time to go to this farmhouse in a beat then hang out for a few weeks. And it was just something that I’ve been really looking forward to. And the morning I was to fly here, I got a text from my friend saying he’s got COVID. And I had a plane ticket. I had no place to stay. I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so all of a sudden this new reality of being alone for 12 days. Well, I was going to be hanging on my [inaudible 00:26:48]. And it’s like I could bite it. I could be pissed. I could be lonely. I could be sad. I could be angry and disappointed. And I felt disappointed. I felt a little lonely and I felt a little frustrated, but then I’m like, “Oh, well, this is what it is. What am I going to do? I’m just going to enjoy it and do my thing and explore and see what happens next.” And magic just keeps happening. I don’t have to worry. It’s like if you just accept what is because everything changes, then curse, a lot of suffering goes away.

Tara:
You’re available for what’s next.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
Otherwise, you’re all tension, you’re fighting the moment. But here’s what’s always interesting to me is that, sometimes we can’t help that first round of reactivity. It’s like your friend who missed the plane. Missing a plane actually can trigger very deep sense of trauma in a lot of people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Clearly.

Tara:
Yeah. In fact, I would probably go into a major reactivity. I have a thing about missing planes. And so radical acceptance isn’t that you don’t end up getting anxious and uptight, it’s that then you at some point bring acceptance to the reactivity that’s there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tara:
Okay, I’m angry, I’m uptight, I’m down on myself for having done it, but at some point, if you can say, “Oh, okay, this is what’s happening,” and make space for it, then you begin to interrupt the chain reaction that really locks us into a very small tight personhood. And so it can be anywhere along the chain that at some point you go, “Wait a minute. This is how life is this moment.” And the fear people have about radical acceptance, and I hear this a lot, is, well, if I radically accept what’s happening, then how am I going to really make a difference in the world? That’s the fear.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I get it.

Tara:
And I remember it really well because my radical acceptance came out in 2003 and we were… As I was writing it and teaching about it, and people said, “Well, if I radically accept that we’re about to attack Iraq,” because that was going on back then, “then how am I going to stand up and try to, in some way, stop it?” Because a lot of people anticipated the chain reaction of attacking Iraq. So what I described was my own process, where I would read about the hawks in our government that were planning to attack and I’d feel a huge amount of agitation and anger.

Tara:
And what radical acceptance meant was, I say, “Okay, anger.” Anger, feeling it, open to it. And then I’d find underneath the anger, there was this really deep fear of what was going to happen, all the bloodshed and the proliferation and so on. And I’d say, “Okay.” Radically accepting the fear, open to it, feel it. Underneath the fear was grieving, really a sense of grief. And then again, I’d open to that. And underneath that was caring. And it was from caring that I could then act. There was a number of us from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship that went down to Capitol Hill, and we actually got arrested, and so on. It wasn’t like I was passive. But radical acceptance of what was coming up inside me actually made it possible for me to respond, not shaking my fist with anger and hatred at others, but just out of caring, do it as intelligently as I could.

Tara:
So I am saying that because radical acceptance is not a sense of resigning. It’s not festivity. It means fully engaged in this moment in an allowing way that creates the precondition for you, let’s say, to go ahead and do your trip without your friend, but have a really creative adventure on your own. It creates a precondition for that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, so you’re saying radical acceptance is really just basing what is, right? Facing what actually is.

Tara:
The openness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Not what you want to be, or what you think should be, or how life should be, or what… it’s loving what is. And it’s a very different way of being with yourself and with your reality. And I think it’s hard to [crosstalk 00:31:22].

Tara:
It’s radical.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I like how you say it. It doesn’t preclude action, right? But it comes from a different-

Tara:
It creates actually the foundation for action that can actually make a difference.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. You think there’s a great story by Gandhi. I love this story where his mother brings him this little boy. He says “My son, he eats candy all the time. Gandhi, would you please tell him to stop eating candy?” He says, “Tell him to come back next week.” They come back next week. As he comes back next week, and he says to the boy, “Can you please stop eating candy? It’s not good for you.” And the woman goes, “Why did you tell him that last week?” He says, “Because I was eating candy and I had to stop eating candy.” It’s like that. You have to be willing to accept all of your [inaudible 00:32:13] and craziness in order to actually make the changes you need to make.

Tara:
It’s true and Gandhi also did took a day a week. He was the ultimate social activist, but he took a day a week to meditate and pray, he said so that he could come back home to that space of openness and not making others into the enemy, that open-heartedness. So his actions would come from that kind of presence that we’re talking about. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, it’s terrifying for people. And I hear people say, “I can’t meditate. My mind won’t stop. I feel too agitated.” Forget about a 10 day Vipassana retreat with 12 hours of meditation a day, this is just like sitting with yourself for five minutes can be hard for people. And I can relate. I meditate every day, and I do yoga, and I barely try to be fairly present, but I decided to do a retreat now. I’m very connected to the Tibetan traditions, and they do these dark retreats for like nine years or two months. It’s like I’m literally going to the dark room with no light and they get their food passed through a little door with a thin trapped door so they can eat with no light. I don’t know how they eat in the darkness.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m not going to that, but I’m thinking of taking a month and going to a cabin somewhere with no internet, no phone, no books, no computer, nothing, just me and my journal. And it’s terrifying to think, “Oh, I’m going to have to sit with myself without distraction, without having anything to build my time, and just be.” And I’ve never really done that. I’ve done a meditation retreats, but you’re doing something. You’re with people and you’re not talking, but you’re meditating, and you’re eating, and you’re… There’s a sense of you’re doing something. But this like you do nothing is the most frightening thing. And I think in order for people to get your work, I mean, they have to come to a level of being willing to become friends with themselves and with their experience in their life in a way that they haven’t been. So, how do you help people get over that?

Tara:
Well, first of all, it’s true that it’s scary. I just want to honor that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Just being honest.

Tara:
Yeah. It is because our whole sense of reality in our world and who we are is usually on a doing self, not a being self, the human doing not being. And the ultimately freeing meditation, the moments of when we’re just letting life be just as it is, where it’s just pure being, are the moments that really the awareness and love that’s our essence can shine through. I mean, it creates a space for the goodness we sometimes call the goal to shine through. But it’s rare. Because we’re stressed, it’s like being on a bicycle. And the more stressed we are the faster we peddle away from the present moment versus just putting down the bicycle and just being. So it is a training. The bad news is it’s hard because we’re so conditioned not to do it. But the good news is everybody, and I’ve never met an exception, can train their mind and their hearts in the direction of really being at home with their life. Everybody can do it in that direction.

Tara:
And we have to go at different paces, not everybody’s going to jump off the cliff into a three months of darkness or whatever. But that’s okay, it’s part of self-compassion to just find the level. And really the simplest is just to say… Well, I’m a great believer in everyday no matter what. I’ll put that out there, because when… I lived in an Ashram and it was very vigorous, and we did a whole lot of practice. But then when I had my first son, my oldest son, my child, oh my gosh, my life was so different. I left the Ashram at the same time. So I had none of the supports and everything. And my practice got a little wobbly, but then I realized how much I counted on it to give me a sense of presence, and open-heartedness, and stability, and steadiness.

Tara:
We’re talking now 35 years, you just turned 35. I made this vow that I would practice every day no matter what.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Tara:
But I had a backdoor, Mark. The back door is, it didn’t matter what practice, it didn’t matter how long, it didn’t matter where, it didn’t matter what posture.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Something.

Tara:
So, I mean, big backdoor, all it meant was I had the intention to pause and be with myself for some period of time each day.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s good.

Tara:
And at the beginning, when he was an infant, sometimes at the end of the day, I’d sit down and just breathe for like two minutes and say, “May all the world be blessed,” and go to bed. But it’s a bit of a trick, because if you say every day, no matter what, life loves rhythms, life is rhythmic, and it just creates this habit of… Rumi says, “Do you make regular visits to yourself?” Just it creates this habit of, “Okay, so what’s it like right now inside?” And we become increasingly intimate and comfortable being with discomfort or being with beauty or goodness, or whatever’s there. We just have increasing ease. So every day, no matter what, but just start slow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s beautiful. I mean, I love that even 30 seconds. It’s like, if you can’t find five minutes to meditate in every day, then there’s something wrong with your life.

Tara:
Yeah. And what you just said about 30 seconds, I think it’s amazing if we’re just quiet for 15 seconds. If we just take three long, deep breaths, our biochemistry changes. There’s a settling, there’s a new perspective.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
So it counts.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So beautiful. You want to know my secrets for living a long and happy and healthy life? Well, all I have to do is check out my weekly newsletter marks picks, where I share my favorite tips for health, longevity, wellbeing, and lots more. Check it out in link below. Also you talked a lot about a Buddhist prayer that really has moved you. And it’ll become a mantra in a way, which is, whatever arises serve the awakening of wisdom and compassion. So how do that thinking or feeling or prayer help you get through challenging moments?

Tara:
It’s a powerful one. The presupposition there is we can’t stop the difficult moments from happening. Every one of us is going to lose our bodies. Many of us are losing our minds. We lose people we love.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
In one way or another.

Tara:
Yeah, exactly. So that we have no control over, but what’s possible is to deepen our sense of spirit, of love, of awareness through that experience. It’s like the Dalai Lama was meeting with some Western teachers decades ago, and they asked him, “What can we bring to our students?” And he said, “Tell them to trust the power of heart and awareness to waken through anything, through any circumstances.” So that’s the spirit of this. It’s like when I’ve gone through I remember one breakup that was brutal, and something in me knew I knew how attached I was and I knew how wrenching this felt. But there are some place in me that said, “Please, may that deepen my sense of open-heartedness, compassion, understanding.” Just may it serve. And if we feel like it can serve, we have space for it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. So then you basically invite the difficulties. And it reminds me of the Rumi guest house poem, right? Which is really all about how all the challenges apply, show up at your doorstep, and you should welcome it in as guests because they probably have something in there for you.

Tara:
They do. And most people we know can look at the difficult stuff, the divorces, or the diagnosis of malignancy, or whatever it is, and know that in some way it required that they called on resources inside themselves, that they hadn’t had to call on before, the courage, they had a deep in their compassion for their own life or for others. It calls forth the best of who we are if we’re available.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. They would call it the school of hard knocks, but it’s actually true if you’re paying attention. If you’re not paying attention, you just keep repeating the same story over and over. And I’ve seen people do that. I saw that my father, for example, he had multiple challenges, but he never looked inward. He just always looked outward. And I think it’s easy to blame the world for what doesn’t work in your life, but it’s harder to look at yourself. And I think that’s what you’re reminding people to do, and then creating a different relationship to their experience and their thoughts. And sometimes it’s hard if you had a lot of difficulties or traumas. And I think that that’s real.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And when you talk a lot about how people get disconnected from their body and dissociated, and they don’t want to feel that intensity of their emotional wounds, we hold on to them, and they’re like issues in our tissues, right? So how do we get through that? How do we learn to stop that and come back into our body and step out of those reactive patterns and connect with what really matters to us?

Tara:
Yeah. Well, you’re naming it right, that we’re all… It’s a pretty dissociated PTSD society. I mean, it’s pretty pervasive. Whenever this world is hard for us, we are conditioned to pull away from where the rawness is. So we pull into our minds and into our circling thoughts and try to-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Or just [crosstalk 00:43:01].

Tara:
I’m sorry. Yeah, exactly right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
[crosstalk 00:43:05]. Distract ourselves, right?

Tara:
Right. Which can just give us a little break. But the reality is that there’s no healing unless we can contact where the energy is been cut off and is living in our body and reintegrated into our wholeness. There’s no healing. There’s no discovery of our wholeness because otherwise we’re living in a very virtual and thin part of our existence. So to re-access to really feel our hearts, we have to come back into our bodies. Love is not an idea, it’s a felt experience. And so, then the question is how, and it depends on how much trauma there is. If there’s not huge trauma, there’s some very beautiful practices of body scans, or we just systematically learn how to come back in and feel and wake up to our body, and mindfulness itself keeps bringing us back to where the feelings live in our body.

Tara:
The two questions I always ask are, what is happening inside me right now, and can I be with this, and really using those two questions to keep coming back. If there’s a lot of trauma, Mark, and this is really a tricky one, we found out over the last decade, that a lot of the instructions for embodied presence were not very useful if people had been traumatized, because they could get really traumatized.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Tara:
They were told to go into their bodies, and then it was just way overwhelming and flooding. So it needs to be gradual and there needs to be a container or a safe space so there can be a learning of how to dip in and then come back to safe space. But when there’s trauma, it’s so important to move, to dance, to feel your body just as well as you can in safe ways to get out into nature. It’s like being outside, moving on this earth, is really the healing recipe pretty much for all of us.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I agree. It’s my go-to therapy. If I go out on my bike or I go out and take a hike in the nature or jump in the ocean, it’s like it reset everything.

Tara:
Absolutely. Me too. Reboot.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’ve found that when I’m biking, I notice that I’m distracted and that I’m in a loop in my head about something. And all of a sudden I look up and I go, “Wow.” And I get to bike in these beautiful places, and I’m like, “Look at that tree, look at that rock, sky.” And this feeling of… It’s like you just come back into the moment of the experience. And it’s always there for us. It’s like this big cradle that we can jump back into any moment.

Tara:
Beautiful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
Yeah. I think that the biggest suffering is we forget our belonging to this living world and to each other. I mean, that is the suffering.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
And nature is a pretty tried and true way to re-experience the elements and that that’s what we’re made of.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
I mean, we’re stardust, we’re earth. This is what we are. And we intuit that. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s so true. I think David White talks about developing a friendship with everything, friendship with the wind, and the sun, and the trees, and the insects, and then whatever it is. And I heard that constantly. It makes so much sense because there is an intimacy we can have with our environment even if we’re completely alone. And there’s so much friendliness in the world if we go meet it. And all we hear about is negative news, and what’s wrong, what’s happening, and this bomb and that, climate change, and this disaster, and that thing. And yet around us all the time is waiting this place of a friendship and of intimacy with our environment and ourselves.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so I’ve gotten into the practice of relating to my physical environment in a way that it meets me as a friend. And it’s so fun. It’s a little practice I do when I’m out and about and riding my bike or doing something, I’m like, “How do I develop a…” It’s easy to develop a friendship with people, but develop a friendship with nature and with your environment, it’s very different. So, it’s a fun thing. And it’s what you’re talking about, really.

Tara:
Oh, it’s so much resonance. I have a part of my recent book, Trusting the Gold, a chapter called We Are Friends, and it’s a practice that I do just like you. Well, I’ll actually be outside and I’ll see a tree and I’ll just reflect on that. I’ll just reflect on the sense that we are friends. I’ll see a squirrel or see a bird, and just by positing that, the truth of it emerges. So it takes that intentionality to actually pause and put it out there. But then all of a sudden, your system resonates with, “Wow, we are connected. Absolutely connected.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, what’s interesting though is that we often forget that, and we feel separate, and that separateness is really an illusion. I mean, Einstein figured this out, right? That we are interconnected with everything. Our atoms are changing with everything that’s around us. And it’s not just a spiritual concept, it’s actually physics. And when you start to understand the physics of… And I remember you probably read this book, but I read in college The Tao of Physics, which was all about quantum physics and Eastern religion and how they were really mirroring the same reality. And I think when you begin to understand that…

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And now there’s a whole advent of psychedelic assisted therapy, which gives people a sense of connectedness and dissolves their ego and lets them feel intimate with the universe in a weird way. That sounds crazy, but it’s actually what happen. Then the same thing happens if you meditate forever. You get the same place, but it’s a lot harder because of short cut. But it doesn’t last because if you do the meditation part, it tends to last. But at least you get an insight into this connection. And I think that’s what we’re missing in our society, is that level of intimacy with [inaudible 00:49:55] you’re talking about.

Tara:
Yeah. The Zen masters said that to be free is to be intimate with all things, which is so beautiful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, wow.

Tara:
And I love what you’re saying about Carlo’s… Physics absolutely says it, that it’s a relational world. And there’s a quantum physicist Carlo Rovelli who describes his fear in giving presentations. And he says that before, he will never give a presentation until he has gone outside and touched a tree. And as soon as he touches a tree, his belonging to the universe is clear.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
So, then he can do it. And we’re afraid when we feel separate. And as soon as we feel connection, whether it’s holding hands with somebody or touching a tree, our fear reduces.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s really true. And people are hungry for this and hungry for this perspective, and they don’t really get it. And I heard a story from this incredible scientists that I’ve had on the podcast a couple of times, Dr. Fred Provenza, who’s a mountain man, big white beard and studied brains and behavioral ecology for 40, 50 years. And he’s just got a deeply spiritual perspective that grew out of his understanding of the nature, and the nature of the relationships between the soil, and the plants, and the animals, and humans, and all the interconnections that are not just abstract but that are real. He talks about how plants have 20 senses and how they communicate with each other through this underground networks and chemicals. And that they’re scenting being. I mean, that was fascinating and he’s sharing all of these relational stories of his insights that he came to through understanding the dowel biology let’s call it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And he said, he gave a presentation to a bunch of ranchers about his research, which goes into animal feeding behavior, and what they eat, and the flavor. It was a very fascinating scientific stuff, but he created his whole spiritual overlay in his talk. And he’s somewhere in like Montana, I can punch ranchers. Afterwards, he said, “We’re just so hungry for more. And we’re so thrilled.” And you’d share that spiritual perspective. And I think a lot of us are just missing the opportunity to really reconnect with this way of thinking and being, because we’re so focused on the material in our lives and the things that are difficult.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But your work is just so important because it helps people bring them back to that. And you’ve got online courses, you’ve got your books, you do workshops, although that’s probably difficult now with COVID. But I think it’s such a beautiful opportunity for people to connect with a way of thinking and being through Tara’s work that is allowing them to be free. And I think I’ve come to understand what are the meaning and purpose of life. I don’t know what you think it is, I want to ask you that question. I want to tell you what I think. So what is the meaning and purpose of life?

Tara:
Now, here’s what happens when you ask it? I’ll tell you more. My process is it brings it right into the moment I say, “Well, what matters this moment?” And what matters this moment is inhabiting beingness, being open, a sense of open-heartedness, tenderness, realness. So I don’t know about life as an abstraction, but I can say this moment it’s, can I open to loving awareness and live from that this moment?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, what you’re really saying and if I’m hearing you correctly is that, it’s a developing an intimacy with the moment, right? Developing a direct intimate connection with what is in the moment. And to remind me of what you said before about what freedom is. And I think freedom is intimacy with everything, right? And for me, when I think about the meaning of life, I’m like, it’s really about freedom and it’s about spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical freedom. To me, if we can define what that looks like, if we can come into relationship with the things that are in our way are the obstacles to that freedom, and that’s what your work helps people do, then all of a sudden life looks very different. Then there’s a lot of joy and fun and ease, and you’re not needing things to be a certain way or have to be this way or that way. And I think you’re really inviting people to look at their habits of thought and feeling and beliefs in a way that accepts it, but also has compassion for it, but also releases it all.

Tara:
You said it beautifully. And one of the flavors that’s so liberating is that we trust who we are and we trust reality because we are reality. We are inhabiting it more fully.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
For me, freedom is an expression of what happens when we are inhabiting the truth of who we are, when we’re really living and feeling that awareness and that love.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Plus your new book, Trusting the Gold, right? So tell us about the book, and what inspired you to write it, and how it speaks to these things.

Tara:
The inspiration on a metaphoric level is that there’s this statue in Southeast Asia that was covered. It was a plaster clay many years, centuries, very esteem, but not particularly nice looking.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right.

Tara:
And in the fifties, there was all sorts of weather systems and rain and it cracked. And what the monks discovered is that the plaster clay was just a covering and it was a solid gold Buddha.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wow.

Tara:
So, it’s so cool because the monks believed they covered it with plaster and clay and historians agree to protect it from invading armies and difficult times much in the way. And this is the take on it, Mark, that we cover over our innate purity to get through difficult times and the suffering. And this is the deal. The suffering is we take ourselves to be the coverings. We think we’re the defensiveness, or the personality, or the addictiveness, or the one that’s got a fantastic intelligent. We just take ourselves to be the coverings. And we forget the beauty and goodness of the awareness, that beingness, that shining through. And really the whole path of healing and freedom is remembering, reconnecting to the goal, recognizing our wholeness of being and including the coverings. It’s not like we’re saying, “Oh, no, that’s not there,” but knowing they don’t define us and they don’t have to limit us. So, that’s the metaphoric way that I’ve framed it.

Tara:
And then the book has many stories of my own struggles and challenges and insights around learning to trust our goodness. And one of the key teachings for me has been that the greatest gift we can give each other is to become a mirror of the gold. And that feels really important, whatever the relationship is, friend, partner. Anybody in some way, if we can reflect back to them their goodness, because we all forget, we all need each other to help us remember. So one of the teachings here is that if you think about somebody in your life, anybody that you’re going to be in touch with in the next day or two, and you have that intention to, in some way, let them know their goodness, it will help to call it forward, it’ll deepen intimacy. It’s part of being free.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And I think people often wait until somebody dies to write the eulogy and to share what they think is great about them. And I just think that’s a dumb idea. It’s fine to honor them when they die, but why not do it while they’re alive? In my community, there’s a number of people who’ve done beautiful things to help bring awareness to people’s natural goodness. And one is a community of friends. And so when someone has a birthday, for example, we’ll go around the table and share a modern day living eulogy, what we love about them, or how they’ve touched us, or what they mean to us, or how they contribute to our lives, or whatever. We’ll come up with whatever question. And it’s such a beautiful way that you’ve got.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I had that done for me the first time. And I was just blown away. It just literally almost physically restructured my physical, emotional, spiritual being. It was a really profound healing experience for me. And another friend of mine [inaudible 00:59:03] Tribute, which is a company that helps to offer tributes to people while they’re still alive, so during COVID, it was really successful because people were in the hospital, and so you can have all your friends and your family share what they love about them or what they care, what they mean to them, or pose whatever questions you want. But the reflecting, that mirroring, that goodness is such a key part of being human, right? I make sure I intentionally do that with people and share what I see, because often we think, oh, we appreciate qualities that they have, or we think something good about them, but we don’t say it, we don’t tell them because it’s embarrassing or it’s weird, or they’ll think we’re weird or something, but I tend to do it. And I find it just such a beautiful practice to do.

Tara:
It’s worth feeling awkward and doing it for anybody.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I tried. It a good take up from this podcast.

Tara:
It makes a huge difference, and it creates a connection that’s unbelievably beautiful. So say it out loud, plan it, know that you’re going to do it, do it, because it’s not our habit, that really it brings it forward. It brings the best of us forward.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. It’s so great. It really is. And it’s such a gift that we can give someone, it doesn’t cost anything, right? And it’s just such a sweet thing. And I think it’s a part of creating a more loving world for ourselves, which is all the work you’ve been talking about. And then just the world we live in. Because it’s not all about ourselves. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s really not about us as individuals, it’s about how do we show up as humans that are part of a bigger human community contributing in a way that adds meaning and value that makes the world richer. And if you’re angry and closed and imprisoned in your thoughts and feelings, it’s going to be hard to do that. Yeah. Well, I’m excited for your book. It’s called Trusting the Gold, uncovering your natural goodness. It’s available. Everybody should get a copy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I want to talk to you about this idea of radical acceptance in the context of where we are now, because a lot of people listening might go, “Oh, this sounds okay. It’s a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo and blah-blah-blah. It sounds good.” But what about the reality of our political crises and divisiveness in our society? What about climate change? What about chronic disease? What about poverty and health and economic disparities? And what about… And I can go on and on for three weeks. All the injustices. How do we use this practice to help us deal with what is? Because some of what is is pretty rough, it’s… Recording this podcast and Isis just they’ll bomb up in Afghanistan and kill a whole bunch of people. How do you accept that? So I just want to push back and say, how do you use this work in the context of COVID and the loss and the death and everything else that we’re experiencing?

Tara:
Yeah. And so let’s just take what you just said, because I’m so glad you brought in what’s going on now and how do we respond to our world? So there’s been a bombing. People lost lives. And how do we deal with it? We start by being present and acknowledging the reality of whatever we’re feeling. So if it’s grief, or if it’s anger, or whatever it is, I always call it, make a U-turn. Instead of focusing on the story out there, come back to what you’re actually feeling. But then what’s next? Let’s say you’ve come back and you get back down to that core of I care, how do we move through our world in a way that actually can make a difference? And if I look at what seems most core in terms of our suffering in the world, it is that dividedness, it’s that we have this habit when we feel insecure, threatened, scared to make the other into an enemy.

Tara:
And humans have a positive quality. What’s allowed us to be so successful as a species is our capacity to collaborate and have compassion and actually join hands. But we also have this reptilian brains, that survival brain that when it gets scared, it loses contact with those capacities and it gets into making the other into the enemy anybody that seems different, and then getting aggressive. And so how do we work with that seems to be the big question of our times right now, because it’s not like we’re going to be able to magically disappear the, let’s say, one third of our population who doesn’t agree with us, or let’s say all the people who look different, or whatever it is. That’s not going to happen, we have to collaborate.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
So, here’s what for me has been most powerful. One of my inspirations is Ruby Sales, who was a civil rights icon. She’s a real spiritual teacher, African-American woman. And she describes the game changer for her, she was getting her hair done and her hairdresser’s daughter was there. And when the hairdresser left for whatever reason, she had this urge. The daughter looked really upset, exhausted, really traumatized. So she had this urge to say to her, “Where does it hurt?” And what came out, this daughter revealed all these things she had never told her mother about how she’d been on the streets and addiction and so on. Well, for Ruby, it was like that’s the inquiry. Can we be with each other and ask that question, where does it hurt and really sense what’s going on. And what for her that meant was looking at some of the most extreme white supremacists and saying, where does it hurt and seeing a spiritual illness of feeling irrelevant and feeling in some way threatened and no longer having a certain kind of meaning or importance in their life.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
And she was able to look around like that. So I feel like we need to be able to ask that question, where does it hurt. And we start with ourselves because we’re dissociated from our own hearts, listening inward. And we extend it to the people we’re with, the proximate people, because it’s a training. Just to wonder, well, what’s it like for you right now? And then as we start getting the knack, which really is what it is, of really seeking to understand, because anybody that’s causing suffering is suffering, we start extending it out and really asking that question. Even if we’re not with a person, just trying to imagine into it. And one of the metaphors that helps me with that, Mark, is this, if you imagine you’re in the woods and there’s a little dog by a tree and you go to pet the dog and it lurches at you with its fangs bared, and aggressive, and you go from being friendly to really-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Terrified.

Tara:
… yeah, terrified. And then you see the dog has its pawn a trap. And you might not get real close to the dog, but you get it. And so no longer are you angry, you’re just careful. But your heart’s open again.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
And if we can remember that those who are acting in ways that we’d either don’t understand or we can’t stand, have their leg in a trap. And if we can just ask that question, where does it hurt, we begin to build bridges. And that’s what we need to do. We need to build bridges with each other.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I think that’s really true. I think I tend to really welcome connection with people who are really different than I am and who disagree with what I believe in and who have different perspectives and world views. And often I think now people have trouble with me for that sometimes, because I hang out with people who are doing stuff that some people I hang with don’t agree with. But I always start with the fact that we’re all human first, and whatever our ideology, your beliefs are, whether we’re vegan or paleo or Republican or Democrat or Christian or Muslim or whatever the divisive this is. We all start out as humans with the same basic structure of our hearts and minds and bodies. And then I try to find that place in that to relate to that person and enlist their really mentally ill.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s really amazing what happens. And you begin to connect in a different way. And I just remember this extraordinary moment that I had, where I was sitting in a lecture with some sort of presentation at a conference. And there was an African-American lawyer from Boston with long dreads and this guy who was the head of the white supremacy movement, and who had been really active as a spokesperson and was very educated and really had pretty radical ideas about other races and white people. And he shared the story of how when he went to college and he went to this college where it wasn’t like a white supremacy college, it was a regular arts college. And he was a paleo there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And this one guy befriended him, this Jewish guy, and invited him over to Shabbat dinner one night. And then would invite him to hang out, and they would have these long conversations. And over a period of a year of these deep conversations about, “Well, here’s all the evidence that whites are better and that blacks are not, or the Jews are not, or…” and he began to very lovingly developing intimate connection with this guy, have a little cracks in that edifice of belief. And it was like he was almost reprogrammed in a way by the love of this guy and the compassionate way that he shared what his worldview was.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so we start to break down some of those when we get curious. You get curious about your negative thoughts, get curious about other people who are different than you. It’s a very different way of going through life. And to me, it’s just so fun to get to know humans and how they think. And if you just hang out with people who are the same as you, you’re just boring all the time, I think.

Tara:
Yeah. Plus what you just said, it becomes a real adventure when you know whoever you’re with. If you’re willing, you can find your common ground of your humanist.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
You can find it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
I was really inspired. Van Jones is one of the people I most respect in terms of his work with bridge-building. And he brought together people from West Virginia who were struggling with the opiod crisis, with people from South LA who were struggling with heroin. He had them actually staying together for a week.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, yeah.

Tara:
And this is very red, blue. This is like the people from LA were saying, “Well, why did you guys vote for Trump if you know how much he’s doing to…”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
It was very divided. But after a week, you saw them sharing pictures of their children who had died from overdose. Sharing those pictures. And one man said, “I told my son, ‘You got yourself into this, you get yourself out.'” And then he said, “And now he’s dead.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Tara:
And you saw everybody have that common ground that you just talked about, of, we love our children, we don’t want a world that’s going to threaten them like this. And then they could work together. And they might still not agree on other stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Tara:
And that’s okay.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Tara:
But that’s what we need.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Well, that’s beautiful.

Tara:
Yeah.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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