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Move With Deb the Podcast

Oct 3, 2021

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Dr. Huberman's dopamine lecture -

Article on labeling emotions -


[00:00:00] Welcome to Move With Deb. I'm Deb your friendly neuroplastician. And this is a podcast that explores the relationship between the body and the mind from a health at every size, judgment, free perspective. I teach you how developing a new internal conversation based on curiosity, self friendship and simple neuro-plasticity techniques can rewire your bodymind out of pain and emotional overwhelm to help you build the rich full life that you want to live. Disclaimer, this is not a replacement for medical care.

[00:00:50] Hello, and welcome to Move With Deb the podcast. This is episode number 33. And today I'm just going to talk a little bit and share some of my somatic singing practice with you. So. There's a little piece in it that I recorded while in my car. So I apologize that the audio of it is not awesome. Uh, but I think the information is interesting. It's me responding to a piece of a lecture in Dr. Andrew Huberman's two hour podcast about dopamine. So if you like to dive deep into neuroscience and learn some interesting things. How our brain communicates inside of itself, how wow, what even neuro-transmitters are, how neurons work, what dopamine is. He really describes the mechanisms by which our brain does things. 

[00:02:00] I'm listening to a lecture on dopamine from Dr. Andrew Huberman. He's like when you want to increase your baseline in dopamine, when you're trying to reach a goal, do not depend on the reward of achieving the goal to give you the increase in the reward, dopamine is the reward chemical. So he said to lean in to the difficult part, and that is where you get your reward from. So when I talk about believing before evidence that's hacking your dopamine system, When I talk about like becoming friends with difficult feelings for the purpose of future you, that is hacking your dopamine reward system, because you are saying, this is something I am choosing to pursue.

[00:03:03] Even though at this moment, I find this difficult. And you're saying, but I understand that practicing this, is going to benefit me, not just right now, but in the future. But that is what is going to increase your dopamine now. So you're going to get the dopamine, not in the future when it's easy, when like having feelings is easy, but you will get the dopamine like soon, right? From the leaning in to the difficult experience that you're having in the moment, while you're telling yourself this is for your future. 

[00:03:46] So the audio from my very enthusiastic car ride, I literally had to pull over into the McDonald's parking lot. And I was like, no, he's saying stuff about dopamine that reminds me of thought work and I have to stop and I have to record my thoughts right now as I'm driving. So I pulled over safely to record my thoughts, but then my phone, like overheated or stopped recording and it was recording through the car and oh, technology, I love you. And I hate you. But what it missed was my disco version of this dopamine experience that he was describing, which is the way to create an increase in your baseline in dopamine is not to put all your, your hopes on the dopamine reward of the thing in the future, but on the challenge of whatever the task is in the moment.

[00:04:53] I'm sure I will continue to find ways to explain how we kind of work with our neuromodulators. I don't want to say the word hack because it's not really a hack. It's more of a dance. It's like the, I feel this arousal, or when I leave this experience or I'm feeling this kind of agitation, like maybe this agitation is acetylcholine and maybe like this drop-in energy is, you know, like there are things that we need in our body. We need food, we need sleep, but sometimes all that's happening is a neurochemical process that we narrate with words. And when we get into the habit and skill of kind of narrating on purpose using this cognitive power of our brains to say words in a way that are felt by the body that give us energy if we want energy. Or to help us feel more calm, if we want to feel more calm, right. To create whatever embodied feeling state we want to be experiencing, we can begin to develop that process. We can begin to develop that process by using language as an evocative power source. 

[00:06:17] So what you missed that didn't get recorded in my little car disco was me singing this song. And now of course I feel embarrassed because it's not, it's not spontaneous anymore, but here we go. It was me thinking about dopamine and thinking about the rewards.

[00:06:37] And now you can't see me, but I'm kind of bouncing back and forth and like pretend snapping my fingers, get in the mood. And I'm like, oh yeah, do it for the dopamine. Do it for the dopamine, do it for the dopamine. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Do it, for the dopamine, do it, for the dopamine and do it for the dopamine. Yeah, yeah yeah yeah.. 

[00:07:04] So that song was really about creating some energy around this idea. I love musicals. I love singing to myself. Singing is a part of my somatic practice when I want to create some kind of energy shift or lift a little bit of joy happiness, surprise, delight. Or lean into sadness or just the quality of a feeling. I will often use singing to amplify that feeling in my body. It's really fun to do when you're in your car by yourself or when you're making coffee. Um, that seems to be a place. I do it a lot. When I'm in the kitchen, I have a little bit of a cooking trauma, drama, uh, difficulty.

[00:07:56] And so I often try to bring in, you know, what I call my feeling friends into these difficult experiences to keep me company. Not to distract me. This is not a distraction, right? This is meeting myself in a place of difficulty saying, Hey, I'm recognizing that this is difficult and I'm doing it anyway. And that is what Dr. Huberman was discussing and talking about when he talks about raising our base level of dopamine, this process is exactly that. 

[00:08:29] So I like to do it with things that evoke, inside of my body, pleasant or neutral feelings and singing to myself. As you know, oftentimes I'm just like babbling singing silly songs. They're just naturally flowing from random synapses firing in my brain, making me do funny little dances.

[00:08:55] And all of a sudden, my whole, you know, my whole body's moving in a way that feels very organic, that feels very present. That is not really about creating something to be experienced or witnessed or produced or observed, or as a product. Right. I am moving in my life for me. With my energy that I have in this moment, but also what we do know about movement, right?

[00:09:25] All of that research about exercise, you know, giving you energy. It's like, that's what I'm doing. I'm tapping into a source of energy and I'm amplifying it through movement, through sound, through being with myself, creating a sense of self delight. I inevitably end up laughing because I always ended up singing something kind of weird and wacky.

[00:09:49] So yes, sometimes going to the giant gay disco on the rainbow cloud, imagining myself at a tea dance, um, with Dr. Huberman and a giant disco ball and all of our neuro-transmitters are there. And we're having just like a really good time. Right? We're we're creating our energy states on purpose.

[00:10:15] Right. We're learning how to not just be in the bodies we have in this moment, because those are also cultivated. We're always using our brain and our experience and our willingness to be with a, with a challenging emotion or something that feels unpleasant, something that feels like we want to move away from it .

[00:10:40] We are always cultivating our experience. So when we lean into something that feels uncomfortable, creates discomfort, whether that's just the experience of a thought in your mind, whether that's the experience of like having to make a decision and not knowing which one is right as if there is actually a thing as a right decision. Rather than the, what is the next best decision I could make for myself. 

[00:11:09] The way we describe things, creates our experience of them. And so this process of getting to play inside of my body mind helps me notice how I move my own energy, how I create my own experience of my world.. It is not an experience that's given to you. That's just experienced by you. It is like, it doesn't just happen. And you walk into it like a, like a cloud of somebody's stinky perfume. It's in fact, something that you co-create using your willingness to feel things. And not just unpleasant or uncomfortable things, but also your willingness to feel things that are pleasant, that are good, that are delightful, or even just things that are boring.

[00:12:00] There's a lot of research that shows when we have more ability to describe our emotions. We see less anxiety, less depression. There was a recent study about teenagers when they had more words to describe emotions, they felt better. And so we can do this kind of, without words, per se, like not necessarily the act of labeling, although that's very helpful, but when we have a greater vocabulary of feelings that lives inside of us, a greater vocabulary of feelings that we are willing to feel, because that's essentially what that is. Then we can recognize, wow, one, this feeling as all feelings are transitory sensory experiences. They come and they go, they come back again and then they go again and they come back again and then they go again, you know? So that is that dance part of it. And then we learn that we are the co-creators of our embodied experience.

[00:13:06] And that sometimes what happens is we just create these conditioned responses about avoiding feelings that we do not want to feel, which makes sense. You don't want to feel something and you feel fear. And you're afraid that this feeling is going to not go away, not change. You're going to be stuck in it forever.

[00:13:29] Maybe you've gone through periods of depression in the past. We oftentimes, when we have a sensation or a feeling that is like a feeling that we've had in the past that we don't want to recreate, it makes sense that we will organize ourselves to not have that experience again. But what is really useful to understand is you literally cannot have that experience again.

[00:13:57] You could have an experience that is like it, but it's only now in the present. So when we apply this information, this new information about feelings that you didn't know then you will have a different experience because if you don't believe that depression is a dark pit that you can't get out.

[00:14:21] Then that thought is not going to create fear inside of you. You can say, a thought about depression like I am recognizing that I am feeling depleted of energy. I am noticing that these are my thoughts and you could get them out of your subconscious, put them down on paper. See them in a little thought buffet.

[00:14:43] And then we just start to practice this. I'm noticing this thought, I'm noticing this feeling practice. I'm noticing when I have this thought, I have this feeling. And then just starting to build more curious awareness, whether it's about a feeling, a sensation in your body, an emotion, a thought, a circumstance.

[00:15:06] We just want to create the willingness to become aware. And to create safety in becoming aware. And just noticing when we want to react and retreat. The answer is not to push yourself to engage or force yourself to do anything. The first answer is just to notice that you have a desire to retreat. And then you can say to yourself, Hey self, I notice that this is the feeling that's coming up.

[00:15:35] So that does involve slowing down. That does involve being with oneself ,that does involve self friendship. And I want to invite you into this sense of curious, willingness to just try. Spend a few moments when you have a strong emotion come on and create some curiosity. Or start playing and then see what happens to your energy.

[00:16:04] It's not about tackling only the hard stuff. It's just about getting to know how your body is synthesizing your experience of the world. Synthesizing your experience of these neuro-transmitters dipping and bumping and zipping and zapping through your body. Creating your lived experience. What is our brain do when it's narrating? Is it a documentary? Is it a horror movie? Is it a romcom? Is it some kind of wild absurdist film, or all of them? Get to know you. 

[00:16:42] This is a process by which we can change our experience with our pain. And with our sensory experiences and it doesn't just mean doing meditation. It doesn't just mean reaching some kind of state that feels mysterious and unknowable. And certainly learning to have fun is never really time wasted. 

[00:17:07] That's my episode today. If you are curious about learning more about how to rewire your brain away from pain and towards, increased tolerance of sensory experiences, emotional and physical, please reach out to me. 

[00:17:26] I am currently offering an eight week what I call pain recovery program, trained by Dr. Schubiner. and aligned with Alan Gordon's work from the pain psychology center, and also is trauma informed, health at every size, all bodies welcome space.

[00:17:46] I hope you're having a wonderful day. And thank you so much for listening to Move With Deb.