Dawson Church is a researcher and the author of several award-winning science books. His best-seller Mind to Matter demonstrates the connection between our inner thoughts and outer reality. Bliss Brain shows how elevated emotional states shape the anatomy of our brains. The Genie in Your Genes was the first book on epigenetics to describe how our emotions influence gene expression.
Research teams led by Dawson have published many clinical trials. His studies with veterans have shown that, using advanced psychological methods, over 80% recover from PTSD. MRI, EEG and gene trials have shown that his stress-management techniques regulate brain function and gene expression.
He applies these breakthroughs to health and athletic performance through EFTUniverse.com. One of the largest alternative medicine sites on the web, EFT Universe trains thousands of practitioners each year, and provides live virtual sessions at TappingPlace.com.
Dawson was educated at Baylor University and Holos University, where he earned his doctorate under the guidance of Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Norm Shealy, MD, PhD, with whom he co-authored Soul Medicine: Awakening Your Inner Blueprint for Abundant Health and Energy.
In 2007 he founded the National Institute for Integrative Healthcare (NIIH.org). Its primary program, the Veterans Stress Project, has treated over 20,000 veterans free of charge (StressProject.org).
His new book is Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Remodeling Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity, and Joy.
Award-winning author and thought leader Dawson Church, Ph.D., blends cutting-edge neuroscience with intense firsthand experience to show you how you can rewire your brain for happiness-starting right now.
Neural plasticity-the discovery that the brain is capable of rewiring itself-is now widely understood. But what few people have grasped yet is how quickly this is happening, how extensive brain changes can be, and how much control each of us has over the process.
In Bliss Brain, famed researcher Dawson Church digs deep into leading-edge science, and finds stunning evidence of rapid and radical brain change. In just eight weeks of practice, 12 minutes a day, using the right techniques, we can produce measurable changes in our brains. These make us calmer, happier, and more resilient.
When we cultivate these pleasurable states over time, they become traits. We don’t just feel more blissful as a temporary state; the changes are literally hard-wired into our brains, becoming stable and enduring personality traits.
The startling conclusions of Church’s research show that neural remodeling goes much farther than scientists have previously understood, with stress circuits shriveling over time. Simultaneously, “The Enlightenment Circuit”-associated with happiness, compassion, productivity, creativity, and resilience-expands.
During deep meditation, Church shows how “the 7 neurochemicals of ecstasy” are released in our brains. These include anandamide, a neurotransmitter that’s been named “the bliss molecule” because it mimics the effects of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. It boosts serotonin and dopamine; the first is an analog of psilocybin, the second of cocaine. He shows how cultivating these elevated emotional states literally produces a self-induced high.
While writing Bliss Brain, Church went through a series of disasters, including escaping seconds ahead of a California wildfire that consumed his home and office and claimed 22 lives. The fire triggered a painful medical condition and a financial disaster. Through it all, Church steadily practiced the techniques of Bliss Brain while teaching them to thousands of other people. This book weaves his story of resilience into the fabric of neuroscience, producing a fascinating picture of just how happy we can make our brains, no matter what the odds.
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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 068
Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to show Dawson Church. How you doin Dawson?
Dawson Church 1:59
It's great to be here.
Alex Ferrari 2:01
Thank you so much for coming on the show, sir. I am. I am a big fan of yours. I've been I've been reading your books for a while I love the blissful brain, your book and many of your other ones as well. First, how do we get first getting started? How did you start on this journey into a mixture of spirituality and science?
Dawson Church 2:23
Yeah, it's a great mixture too. Because like 100 years ago, 500 years ago, spirituality and science really going apart. And then of course, with Darwin in the 1800s, they just had a big divorce. And so what's been so surprisingly interesting in the last century is that they've been growing together, things like the double slit experiment showing that the observer effect affects reality. They've been bringing the whole world of consciousness, spirituality, subjective experience and science together. And so I've been intrigued by science, I also love the ability of science to explain things empirically. And when I began writing this brain, for example, I, I said to myself, What is the evidence show? What does science show us about meditation, I asked all the basic questions like how long meditation do you need every day? How long is going to take one take to start to change the brain? One of the most effective kinds of meditation, and these are all, like, if you ask a spiritual master, a spiritual tribe, a spiritual group, they'll have wildly different answers for you and the Buddhists and the Hindus embrace different sects and the Christians are all gonna have their own answers. And then you you view those questions through the, through the lens of science, and then shows you Okay, empirically, this is how much time you need to meditate to really enter those states. The style of meditation is what evidence shows were expensed. Do it with Islam, you have these effects. So I love science, like it's I just been over the last 20 years, I've become more and more intrigued by the answers, science gives me the questions, my three best selling books about it. And I just love seeing the world that way. And then apply that in my own life, Alex, and finding that as I apply the findings of science, my own meditation practice, that my life has just transformed beyond my wildest dreams. So that's been my motivation to share that with other people.
Alex Ferrari 4:16
Now, how can we use meditation in the rewiring of your brain process, because I've talked about this on the show multiple times is that we do heart get hardwired into our brains, certain things, and it's kind of like a record a groove, and you've got to kind of scratch it to this, you know, change it and actually rewiring it completely. But how can meditation help you do that?
Dawson Church 4:41
Well, that those findings are relatively new. And if you'd asked me that question, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, it was a totally different answer from what you get today. So what I was writing about in my earlier books 20 years ago was that evolution gave us the spraying this brain has This was what psychology calls the negativity bias, which means we pay attention to the bad stuff and ignore the good stuff. Because obviously back along the evolutionary pathway, if your ancestors were paying attention to how nice the roses smelled, and we're ignoring the tiger in the grass. They got eaten. So our brains just were formed by evolution to pay attention to anything bad in our environment, Swami Muktananda was famous for one of his little exercises he did was he, he would take a white bedsheet, and he grabbed a yellow and a red ballpoint pen, he put a.in, the middle of the bed sheet, he'd hold it up to his disciples and say, What do you see, they say swabbing we see a red dot. And he'd say, No, you're seeing a white sheet.
It was focusing on the red dot, tiny, little insignificant part of it. And that's the way our brains out of danger, we have a fabulous life. And yet, we will obsess about the one thing that's wrong in it to the exclusion of everything else. And that's not because we're bad at positive thinking, because we're morally deficient. It's the way evolution trained our brains to operate, so we wouldn't miss that tiger lurking in the grass. So that's the brain we have. And so 1020 years ago, our picture of our brain function was that our brains are wired for the bad stuff. In fact, our brains default to that any little bit of spare capacity, we have to have mental activity and have our brain active. It defaults to this network called the default mode network, which is obsessed with future threats, past things that almost gobbled us up alive, and building our sense of self. And so we default there when our brain has any spare capacity. And so that's where our that was our best answer just a decade ago, then, research showed that we actually had other networks in the brain, and we can activate those networks. So in this brain, I talked about this network, very recently discovered, called the Enlightenment network. And the Enlightenment network is what we see active in monks and nuns in long term meditators. And what it does is it suppresses the activity of the default mode network, and makes people so happy, like I have an image in bliss brain, opsin Francis of Assisi. And here he is his famous Christian say, it's called the ecstasy of St. Francis. And you'll see him like literally passed out in bliss, the guy is so stoned, with on anandamide, and oxytocin and serotonin and dopamine, all these, all these bliss brain chemicals that we get in our brains when we meditate, that he's like, literally passed out in ecstasy. And Rumi, we the poetry of Rumi, from the Islamic Sufi tradition, and some of the great Kabbalistic masters and, and other other great saints from different religions, and they are in these blissful states. So when we learn to turn on the Enlightenment network, several good things happen. One of which is we dial down the activity of the default mode network, and we pop into this state of ecstasy that is so far beyond. And this is this is a big challenge. I have ministers i i wish i could somehow convince people of this better, Alex because I talk to other neuroscientists who say the same thing. And they tell me that they're the same difficulty. We cannot explain to people adequately, just how ecstatic those states are just how good you feel. People feel so good in those states, that they are literally in the same status, having had a slug of sort of psilocybin magic mushrooms or cocaine or heroin, all the same drug, brain drugs are in play in these ecstatic states, and you feel absolutely wonderful. So the new explanation now is that we, we have these states, they are so pleasurable, were motivated to get more just like after that slug of cocaine or heroin. You want more after that, that ecstasy of psilocybin, you want more suicide is just basically a plant based form of serotonin that our own brains make. And heroin and cocaine stimulate the production of dopamine. And what we see in meditators is that their dopamine can rise by as much as 65%. They're having highly addictive experiences. And that changes the brain, the brain starts to change when you give it these powerful drugs endogenously from within, and then people start to shift their behavior, shift their traits and all kinds of good things happen as a result of lightening up that enlightenment network, which in turn suppresses the default mode network and all the fear and misery and stress and anger and love stuff we we experienced there.
Alex Ferrari 9:47
It's so fascinating because I've been meditating heavily, probably for about seven years now six or seven years. And I've talked to multiple people on the show about this, that there's this bliss This very addictive high like you walk out. And it's not every time because I'm, you know, I meditate two to three hours a day. So but it's not every time I meditate, but I always get something. It's kind of like, you could do cocaine, or you could you get a little high, but you still get high but not like, super high. Not that I've ever I've never done any drugs, I wish I could have some sort of reference point. But from my point of view, there is that blissful moment where you walk out of my meditation, literally Hi, like, I can't even comprehend. It takes me about five or 10 minutes to come down from the high. And I'm almost bumping into walls. Sometimes it takes, it takes a minute to get down that way. And for people, I try to explain that to people and like it takes time to get there. You can't just start meditating and get there. But now this explains to me why I'm being pulled back into meditation more and more every day. Like my body, my mind is going no, no, no. Let's go back to doing that thing. Again. I like that. My question to you what, what is going on in the mind when meditation is happening? Because obviously, the drugs are being released. But they're doing it in a beneficial way. Where all these other physical benefit your blood pressure, your everything calms down. And why is it that you're right, by the way, your stress starts to go down your your whole outlook on life starts to change. It is. I always thought it was you know, it is spiritual, but there's something else doing it. So from a neuroscience point of view, what is happening?
Dawson Church 11:48
What is happening is so interesting, Alex, and so you're you're finding you're there on Sundays, you're fully there, Sunday's, you're partially there are other days, you're somewhere every day you meditate. And then you're also finding that there's a transition period that you have to be aware of between hitting these ecstatic states and then coming back down. And you really need that transition period. I have a couple of times I I've forgotten to do that. I haven't done that. And so you're not much good in the outside world when you're in that ecstatic state. And so what you know, the traditional way of doing it, like, even a few 100 years ago, a few 1000 years ago, was that you didn't bother coming back, you went into the Mater screen went into the convent, and basically you went there, you're a hermit, you were in the Himalayas, and you just went there, and then you never came back. Somebody brought him a bowl of rice every day and a couple of wardrobes. He didn't say your body to the star. But he basically like if you read it read about some of the great saints like Ramana Maharshi, he became enlightened at the age of 16. Went to the this mountain the sacred hill or went to China. And he went into Samadhi. And basically for several decades, barely even spoke, he suddenly went there never came back. So that was the the model back then. And because I mean, it's like, go back to the Middle Ages. I mean, you're in this excited state, you really want to come back to this society where there's sewage running in the middle of the streets, and there are people being slaughtered in intertribal warfare, and people are starving off the die because the crop fails. And I mean, that wasn't a very attractive place to come back to. So that was the old model. But now we can go there, we no longer have all these external threats to our survival every day. And then it's important that you've been in that place, you need to come back, because we'll have a whole bunch of because it's because you want to be functional. Like I'm a husband, I'm a, I'm a father, I'm a grandfather, I want to be a great grandfather, a wonderful grandfather to my grandchildren, and I spend time with my grandchildren every week, I spend a lot of time with my wife and my family. And so I want to be effective at those relationships. I don't want to be a spaced out zombie, you know, which I which I mean, there's a lot of attractions going there and never coming back, but but he wanted to be effective and your family want to be effective at work. So what do you do? Like I have a big project called the veterans stress solution, and started in 2007. And we give free treatment to veterans with PTSD, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, we present over 20,000 veterans free of charge. And so that wouldn't have happened. If I was based out on a mountaintop in the Himalayas, those 20,000 veterans would would probably not have been treated. So what you want to do stuff that's valuable like that in immunity that you need to move back into the world and be effective in the world. That's the global picture. And so social action, meaning people who are voting people who are doing social activism, we need people who are who are influencing public policy. We need people who are doing nonprofit work, who are volunteering who are being great leaders. We need those people both out They're and then with both feet on the ground when they come back here. And so if you listen to any my, I've tons of free meditation tracks all over the web, people can just access those freely listen to them, download them use them. And I developed this form of meditation called Eco meditation in the light run 2008 Because I just never had that good experience of meditation. And this eco meditation method is a combination of seven ScienceBase techniques like Heart Math, and light biofeedback, neurofeedback, mindfulness, tapping, acupressure, it brings them all together, it's very, very simple routine, that science based requires no belief, and then sends people out into the stratosphere pretty quickly, within about five minutes. Usually, as we measure their activity, brain activity on on MRIs. And so at the end of every one of those tracks, though, you will hear instructions like feel your breath, ground yourself, your feet, feel your eyes, open your eyes, look around, you count the number of light bulbs in the room, look for the biggest green object, find the letter V around you. So now we're orienting people back. We don't want them out there in outer space the whole time. We want them right here in their environment, to integrate this into their experience. So again, 1000 years ago, you were the mistake in the Himalayas, in your own space going out there and never going back today. You're the wife, you're the father, you're the entrepreneur, you're the team member, you're the assembly line worker, you are whatever your chosen quality is, but even have those ecstatic states and you come right back, and you come right back there every day and then ground yourself into the day.
Alex Ferrari 16:54
Now, with the meditation, how can you? How is the rewiring process work? With meditation? How can you use meditation to rewire the negative stuff or beliefs that you have? Or, you know, the chatter, the negative chatter the monkey brain, as we like to call it? Is it is it just a Bible as a byproduct of meditating that just automatically stuff starts to rewire itself?
Dawson Church 17:22
Naturally, it does. But even it has the process. And so in this brain, I looked at the research into how you accelerate that. And so meditation does that the right kind of meditation is much more effective than the wrong kind of meditation, like I tell the story and in this brain of one of my team members, and he lived with his girlfriend, and he said, every day, I wake up in the morning, and she's meditating, meditates for an hour or more every day, I tiptoe around our apartment, I don't want to disturb her. She's meditating. And I don't want to interrupt her, her meditation. And so I'm very quiet when I move around in the morning. And this morning, he told me, I, I just made a little sound. And it disturbed her. And she opened her eyes, she screamed at me and said, Don't fuck with my serenity. That's what meditation. I mean, that's what most people think meditation is you close your eyes, and then you try and go somewhere else. But she was so disturbed. She was so emotionally disturbed. That was her space. And so they're almost huge chunks of what people think of as meditation are not only are they effective, they're actually counterproductive. You aren't getting anywhere, you're just wasting your time. So you want to do things that science shows you are effective, and there are few things that really are effective. Being in your body. Pay attention to your breath. being grounded in meditation through your breath is powerful. Feeling your heart getting into heart coherence. Roland McCrady, who is the science director of the heart methods to your Tobia 2009. He said, Dawson, we've measured a lot of meditators. And when they meditate, they dropped out of heart coherence. I thought, That can't be true. I mean, surely, surely meditations are calm stages to go into heart coherence. So I after the conference, I talked him out i i came back to where I lived. I had a friend of mine who was a longtime meditator, and I helped mentor heart rate coherence monitor. His name was Reverend Jeff he was a wonderful minister, Unity minister and whoever jet up to a heart rate coherence monitor. He had a beautiful, just serene pattern. What is with his eyes open sitting there the lab? It's okay. Now Jeff meditate. You closed his eyes. You had to breathe, and he dropped right out of heart coherence. So Roland was right and But people actually are meditating, and they're not in heart coherence. So I designed the meditation for people there. So you need effective methods of getting to heart coherence that get you into heart brain synchrony that balance the hemispheres of your brain. And so what we found with eco meditation is very simple combination of various evidence based methods is that people go to synchrony between the left and right hemispheres. And they start to have a very little beta, which is beta is the brainwave of thinking consciousness. They have a lot of alpha, quite a bit of theta and delta is too slow brainwaves during when you're asleep. So they have learned the sleep brainwaves, but they aren't asleep or they are drowsy. Because they start to develop a ton of GABA, which is the way that creativity inside joy, happiness, gratitude and compassion, all the all the positive emotions are gamma, and the amounts of gamma they produce. Like in one study, the researchers found that people were producing seven times the amount of gamma as normal. And that number was so staggering. They just couldn't leave it. I mean, they've expended to find maybe 50%, more gamma, they've found 700%, more gamma. That's why I say it's hard to explain to people, how have you get, I mean, you're just so happy, you're in this gamma synchrony state of your brain. And it's powerful, that then stimulates the brain to rewire itself. Because when the brain gets a hit of dopamine hit of serotonin, these are reward neurotransmitters, and the brain wants more of them. That's why you become addicted to Oxycontin, and to heroin and cocaine, because the brain gets us hit, which stimulates the reward system, and once more of them. But the end the brains of meditators, dopamine rises up to 65%. So you're now getting this huge slug of this pleasure and addiction, neurochemical. And you definitely want to meditate tomorrow. So we generate that in the brain, people have more dopamine. And when your brain gets hit with that flood of dopamine, it pays attention. And it starts to learn. What it wants to learn is how to make this this tastes really good, how to get more of this stuff, and so pays attention to what you're doing. It then enhances the effect, and the people dial it up over time. So if you're consistent, and you're entering that dopamine state, that reward state over and over and over again, day after day after day after day. Now the brain is getting these pleasure signals, and it's starting to rewire itself in in powerful ways. One case history I have in this brain is a TV show host called Graham Phillips. And he learned he heard about meditation never had meditated before, said I've got an eight week mindfulness and meditation course. And so before he did that, he took his whole TV crew into an advanced neuro imaging lab, and did a whole workup on his body, his reaction time and psychological profile. And they measured my nuclear with high resolution MRI, every single structure within his brain, He then began to meditate, be mindful, and within two weeks, his behavior began to change in four weeks more six weeks greater change. In eight weeks went back into the lab, they measure the volume of tissue and is each part of his brain. And the emotion regulation structure at the core of the brain. It's about the size of a little finger. It's it's pretty, it's pretty small. It's right in the midline of the brain, and it has tentacles that reach out and regulate negative emotion that regulates anger, and regulates frustration and guilt and blame and resentment and all these negative emotions that emotion regulation will structure it grew in those eight weeks by 22.8%. So now the brain isn't just doing a little bit of wiring here and there, the odd random neuron, that emotion regulation structure grew by 22.8% in eight weeks. Now, it's not like every part of your brain is growing that fast. But key structures like your attention circuit, how do I pay attention, your emotion regulation circuit that grew 22.8% in only two months, your circuit for suppressing your worries about the past and your fears for the future? That circuit dials way, way, way down and meditate. And so what do you do science and see what see what's effective? And then you will, within just eight weeks, you'll literally feel your brain changing. One young man from Saudi Arabia, walked up to me at a workshop I did in in Paris, France in 2019. He said I've been using the meditations for a few months now. And I'm feeling I feel my brain changing. And so where he pointed right over here, to his forehead, and that's the part of the brain the Midway vital cortex that handles that obsession with a part to future is coming to the present moment. He's learning to dial it down, it literally feels the changes happening in his brain. So within eight weeks, your brain is literally rewiring itself.
Alex Ferrari 25:11
So you just point it to the middle of your your, between your eyes, which anybody who's ever studied any sort of Hindu or Eastern philosophy talks about the third eye. Is there a correlation between the third eye and what you just discussed about that place in that placement?
Dawson Church 25:31
There is Paramahansa Yogananda said, the third eye region of the body and feeling sensations, there is something to pay attention to, sort of Kirpal Singh, one of the great spiritual leaders of the early 20th century said it's the link between between soul and body. And so yeah, spiritual teachers of the same for a long time as third I read is really important. And most people do eat meditation after a month or two, will report some kind of sensation in their third eye area. And then the cool thing too, is that, once you done this for a few months, you start to have that tingling in the grocery store, at the mechanic shop, during work at taking a walk at random times during the day, that might be vital cortex starts to activate. And so the benefit is that you don't just feel good during meditation, you start to feel much calmer, outside of meditation, and it says, say that that's the brain area that's affected.
Alex Ferrari 26:31
I'll tell you what I mean, from where I was five, six years ago, to where I am today, it's drastically different. As far as anger, as far as worry is about as far as stress. I look at things very differently than I used to. And I really, you know, just thought it was part of the process. But you were literally now breaking down the process. And now it's starting to make scientific sense. Why this is happening, because it is, if you start studying spiritual teachers and spiritual masters, they all go through this process. They don't just get born enlightened. They need to work towards it. And it's a, it's a process. It's so you know, one day, maybe you can break down the Buddha's enlightenment, like what was his process to get there scientifically, if there's a way to do that,
Dawson Church 27:20
There actually is. And so there are two parts. One is the long path. And the long path is the way that we learned about for a long time you join a monastery, you take vows, you spend a lot of time the 10,000 hour rule, meditating, being under the guidance of a spiritual master. And then maybe after 10 years or so you become an initiate, you go through another part of the journey as an initiate, eventually graduate and the spiritual traditions have a good track record of, of every there's a percentage of people who go do the long path, who do break through to the sacral, enlightenment. And enlightenment means that that enlightenment brain network is active in a much greater degree. And the default mode network is relatively inactive, so inactive that in masters, people already mastered this, after many years of meditation, that keys stress structures in their brains begin to shrivel, like the amygdala begins to actually shrivel up. So your main area of your of your limbic system, your midbrain, that sends the stress signal into your body, and you aren't doing it now for six months, or a year or two years or five years. So the brain notices, hey, he's not using that part of this tissue. We don't need that there. So it begins to actually shrivel up. And so we find that in the brains of these atoms, so that was that was the long path. It works as a lot about you to discipline to really observing things like dietary cleanliness, and food and water, cleanliness, all all those things have a role, but it's long path. And then there's what Ramana Maharshi and his many other people have called the short path. And the short path is when you do certain things to catalyze enlightenment. And so I've been working with several people for the last few years. On putting those steps together, those catalytic steps into a neuroscience based course, we're taking the principles of Vedanta, ancient traditional is 1000s of years old, we've been looking at which ones stand up to the test of neuroscience, like some of that other stuff really put people in an MRI, nothing happens, but put people in an MRI and they do other Vedanta things, and there's really rapid shifts shift in their brains and bodies. So we now put together a series of SMG 3636 milestones are the short path and we're now bringing people through the short path process. We're measuring their degree of happiness satisfaction, but we're also measuring their job productivity when I see other becoming better fathers and mothers and team members and better entrepreneurs and Are they able to translate those enlightened states into everyday life? So without actually a curriculum, we haven't announced this yet, or we haven't offered to the public yet. It's been an intensive development with several neuroscience colleagues, several mistakes. But we'll be announcing actually in June of this year, and we'll have this curriculum that takes you through these three, six milestones over the course of nine months of the short path. So there's a long path, as we've heard about for a long time, there's a short path, and we're finding that people can get there in about nine months, short path practices.
Alex Ferrari 30:31
So are you saying that you can get into enlightenment in nine months?
Dawson Church 30:45
That's where finding people are in persistent states, we call it persistent fundamental well being, they cross a threshold where they are basically fear driven, and environmentally plugged in the wide variety going on around them. And then they have a transition. And when that transition happens, they suddenly unplugged from stress. And they have this immense bliss. Freud, Sigmund Freud, call it Oh, sciatic bliss, and you're in this bliss state. You click in it, they'll come out, you just are in that state onto that. And so we were finding we can lead people into this, this, this this deliberately using neuroscience based techniques.
Alex Ferrari 31:24
Wow. And you're working with mystics and spiritual masters as well, during this process are scientists.
Dawson Church 31:28
Alex Ferrari 31:31
That's fascinating. Dawson that is absolutely fascinating. Well, I mean, Sign me up. You let me know when it's available and sign up. Absolutely. No question. Now, there's another aspect of of things you've talked about over the years called EF tapping. I've heard about it. I've never done any serious research into it. What is EFT tapping? EFT, EFT tapping?
Dawson Church 31:56
EFT Yeah, one of the pitfalls of the spiritual path is the dark side. And just to mention a few well known examples has been a huge scandal in Shambala Buddhism over the last 10 years, with the head of the order, be accused of some fairly substantial mal practices. So that's, you know, Buddhism and Hinduism, saying things that happen and some things with some various groups in the last 1520 years. In Christianity, we have numerous scandals, Liberty University, John of God, John of God, I mean, this guy who was revered for decades as a faith healer, John of God is his name. And now he's in jail for 17 years for molesting his students. So their holy scandals in Christianity and Buddhism and all the religions. And what happens is, if you go to the mountaintop me were these guys in enlightened states, most of them were, but they never went to see a therapist. They never took care of trauma. And they had psychological trauma from childhood, they they traumatized, growing up and as adults. And so it's wonderful to ascend to these elevated states. But you have to go there and heal psychological trauma. So I teach meditation to bring you to the mountaintop, but I teach, I teach EFT to resolve that trauma, and everyone in the meditative in the meditative community and the spiritual path hears about the dark night of the soul. And the dark night of the soul is what you hit if you haven't healed trauma, and it often just takes people down. So you got to go heal trauma and EFT is brilliantly effective at doing that. It uses acupressure rather than Accu puncture uses pressure on acupoints. And people think about bad stuff that's happened to them. They reflect on their past wounds, and they just go deep into their psychological and spiritual wounding triggering. And they're using these acupressure techniques and it releases all of the emotional components of that in a process called memory reconsolidation and extinction where we literally had them reconsolidate the memories back into their neural network or the trauma, but we extinguish the emotion so they remember the bad stuff like one young Vietnam veteran, what went on so what no one money on Iraq veteran he had had just been in the battle of Fallujah in 2004. He was incredibly traumatized have PTSD symptoms, and he had just like, horrible experiences. And I did EFT with him. He came right out of it to record remember those experiences, but he no longer was emotionally triggered by them. I checked back with him a few months later, he was still fine. So we've done that now with with 1000s of veterans, we have done seven randomized control trials, they all share the same thing. People just have a lifelong release of that trauma. So it's great to do the meditation. You have to do the trauma work as well.
Alex Ferrari 34:53
So what is can you give an example of what this EFT tapping is like for an exam Apple and I saw somebody tapping in the middle of the brain or, or the middle of the middle between the eyes. What exactly like? Explain that a little bit to me like, What can we like physically? What did we do?
Dawson Church 35:12
Yeah, so what we have people do is first of all, remember, and research shows, you have to remember the bad stuff of your past before you can effectively release it. And so we have people actually get deep into what mum did what dad did, or brother did with cousin's dead. And they're literally remembering the worst experiences of their lives. While they do those, while they recover those memories. And recall those memories, they then stimulate a series of acupuncture points by tapping on them. And these are on all the meridians of the body. There are 14 meridians, they tap on each one. And it's amazing to watch people do this, like they'll be just really sucked into a trauma, they'll be really completely, they'll be emotionally flooded, they'll be overwhelmed, they might be crying, and then they start tapping. And it just like all that stress rolls way off them, their energy system balances. When we have them in an EEG, or watching an MRI, their brain function comes back to normal. So they go from being highly triggered emotionally, to releasing all of that stress and trauma. When we measure their cortisol levels, they drop dramatically. In one study, in a week of tapping meditation, people's cortisol levels dropped by 37%. And when the cortisol levels drop, all kinds of beneficial hormones actually kick in and rise. So big biochemical changes, big brain function changes, big physiological changes, their heart rate goes down, their blood pressure goes down, all the symptoms of stress reduce as they balanced the meridians with the tapping.
Alex Ferrari 36:53
So what's actually happening, like, you know, just going like this, is it actually, what's the physical thing happening to the brain? Because I get the concept. But I'm just curious, like, when you hit that, is it kind of like the acupuncture like it releases the energy? Or is it just a rewiring process that happens when you're tapping?
Dawson Church 37:13
We know that a lot of the acupoints are on points of the skin, where there's really, really high conductance. And so we can use a tool called a galvanometer. road across the skin. And whenever we hit a point that's highly conductive, in other words, it electricity, if that's electricity really well, that galvanometer lights up. And it turns out that it lights up exactly where 2000 year old Chinese will show us acupuncture points are just like one of those crazy things, how are these people 2000 years ago, right, these scrolls in China, and show these acupuncture points where you when we run now, a scientific instrument of the skin, it starts beeping when we hit a hit a point because it's a point of graver high conductance. So when you are tapping like that, you produce a form of electricity called piezo. Electricity. Same electricity is used on a gas stove or barbecue grill. When you go click, click, click, click, click and it lights when you go, tap tap tap tap tap and says it gives electric signal and it goes through your connective tissue goes through your fascia through your ligaments, tendons, and usually people feel a sense of malaise in their bodies where they're reporting trauma. So they'll tell you about how my older brother almost drowned me when I was six. How am I the bully, smashed by Facebook as the curb when I was nine, they'll be telling you all these stories of abuse. And they'll be really emotionally triggered. When they tell you the same story. And they tap, they start to lose all that emotional triggering and they become calm. And what we've seen in EEG studies is that their emotional brain goes from being all lit up. So literally, they're telling the story. They're highly emotionally triggered. When they tap, they then discharge the energy and the brain calms down. And they also report a sense of physical triggering, whether describing the that, like I walked with one doctor, one physician, and he lost all his money in the 2007 financial crash. I said, What do you feel in your body? They said, it's like a black bowling ball in my stomach. So he's feeling this and it's actually a physical feeling in his fascia or in his muscles. And when we tap, we find that those signals like signals traveling through the fascia, and travel very, very, very quickly through the fascial much faster than neural signaling, go travels, and then those physical feelings of malaise, just like that, and I asked him, you know, asked me in a few minutes, where do you tune back into your gut? How do you feel? You said, well, the black bowling ball is now the size of a soft white fluffy tennis ball. We kept on tapping and so now it's the size is a pinhead. And then it was gone. So his physical body is giving him different signals, and all the emotional information that his body's been holding around this will help right wait one of the great psychologists of the early 20th century for the body armor, and body armor starts to soften. And then people's bodies release that feeling of trauma, and then recall the event later on without the emotion.
Alex Ferrari 40:26
So you've got to deal with this trauma before you start going down the path of trying to find these higher, higher states of consciousness, because to be permanently,
Dawson Church 40:35
Permanently, you can go to those highest states for a little while. And the soothing school that the glimpse and spider get a glimpse. But if you try and stay there without dealing with trauma, that's when you went the dark side.
Alex Ferrari 40:48
It is It seems everything we've spoken about it is very, you can associate it with drugs, and, and other other things that you know, you could be either alcohol, drugs, sex, anything else that creates that kind of that kind of high, where people can get addicted to it, you could truly find it all within yourself. It's cheaper. less damage, less damage to your bank account and to the people around you. No side, no side effects the only good only beneficial side effects Yes, of going down this road. I've been preaching from the top of my mountain for a while of what meditation has been doing for me, but I've never really sat down and understood how it was used in the rewiring process. This is a fascinating, fascinating conversation. You've spoken about something called the nine, the moot procedure. What is that?
Dawson Church 41:49
Yeah, that's one of the techniques used in EFT and EMDR. And so EMDR essentially, EFT is an EMDR, very, very similar to each other. And so they both use tapping. And tapping we found has this calming effect, but they both also use eye movements and when you are asleep, so we sleep for roughly eight hours a day. And when we close our eyes and go to sleep, our brains drop out of beta, which is the brainwave of ordinary consciousness, it's 12 to 30 times a second our brains are firing, that's beta, that's the wasteful way, we drop into alpha and alpha is eight to 13. firings a second, our neurons so we were willing drowsy, we drop into alpha, we then rabbit a deep sleep, we go down through theta, which is four to eight cycles a second, that delta which is zero to four cycles per second, we spend about 90 minutes in Delta, when we're asleep. Then we we have a period of wakefulness, and we dream, and we're theta for eight cycles per second. And our eyes move around really rapidly. And theta, we have vivid dreams. And those dreams actually are dreams in which our subconscious mind is trying to solve actual problems in our lives. So there's a whole branch of Dream Yoga, there's a whole branch of psychotherapy, route dreaming, Dream Therapy, to stop therapy as a whole section on dreams. And Michelle therapy is a highly significant way of the brain, the brain is rewiring like crazy in that theta state. So that's how we sleep we were in theta for a few minutes, we dropped back down into delta for an hour or more. And then we come back into theaters, we have about five of these theta dream phases during sleep and our brain is solving our problems. What we do in the eye movements of EFT or EMDR, is we mechanically move our eyes around. So we think about a problem. We focus on something bad that happened. And then we move our eyes around deliberately similar the way we do and rapid eye movement sleep. And people have a real shift in their ability to handle problems. And they feel much better after the nine gamut. And so we use it for things like prenatal trauma, because it's hard to treat prenatal trauma. It's hard to treat pre verbal trauma. But if you're traumatized zero to two, those sorts of messages you were getting back then that word healthy are extremely hard to solve with conventional talk therapy. So we use the nine gamma because eye movements use all kinds of nonverbal methods for nonverbal traumas, and also highly traumatized people. We've worked with. volunteer teams, for example, have worked with children in Rwanda, whose parents were killed there during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. We've worked in places like Newtown, Connecticut in Parkland, Florida, where there were school shootings. We have volunteers that work in Ukraine during the Korean Korean War. We've just made available made our travel training available free to people who are treating refugees in Ukraine, and others in Ukraine. So there's a lot of evidence showing that these eye movements can run really rapidly deal with deep traumatization like that, that otherwise is very difficult to treat.
Alex Ferrari 45:08
Doesn't I have to ask you, you've, you've now worked in this field for for decades, and you've had the pleasure of not only living in the scientific world, but you've also, you know, have been working with spiritual masters and gurus and Yogi's and things like that Buddhists and so on. How has that affected you spiritually? How have you like because you obviously have a scientific look at things. But with all of this, on the other side of the of the fence, with the spirituality, has that affected you spiritually?
Dawson Church 45:53
No, I think it has slowly, it certainly has not been, you know, like Ramana Maharshi. He 16 years old, he just realized he was going to die. So he said, Okay, I'm gonna lay down here, I'm gonna lay on a corpse laying on a pyre, and I'm gonna die right now. And he spent about the experience lasted maybe half an hour, and he got up and he was enlightened. That's the kind of experience we will all wish we had Eckhart Tolle is sitting on a park bench. And just being go, Byron, Katie, in a halfway house, just hopeless at it. And a cockroach crawled over her foot, she woke up, looked at it, and bingo, she was there, I'd love to have had the biggest experience. For me, it's been a long, hard slog. And I understand spent years and years years doing this and a little bit better. But things really shifted for me. In 2000, when I made the decision, those as I was meditate every single day, no matter what. And so I began to meditate every single day that that year, and that's when my money, my health, my career, everything began to shift. So that made the difference for me. And then I saw a lot of problems I struggled with before using psychotherapy. And so early, I've been using psychotherapy in the 90s 80s, mostly mostly Gestalt therapy, other kinds of therapy to Family Constellations, work, parts work. But I made slow progress. When I began to meditate every day, and then used energy therapies, I changed radically quickly. And then I began to hit levels of happiness. That just astonished me. And so I wanted to write about them and share them. And then I got to a point as, at a certain certain point, I had this lawsuit, where somebody who'd been a mentor of mine, sue me, and I just love this guy, I really respected him, he taught me a lot that he was, he had some mental health issues, and he sued me. And this lawsuit dragged on for seven years. And it also drained tons of money, millions of dollars, out of my visits out of my life. And I think about the sky, and I just feel such compassion for him during that seven years, because I thought, wow, you know,
I mean, to be suing somebody for so long, and so it'd be so persistent about trying to damage them. He must be suffering so much. And so I say this, I say to my wife, and she say, Screw him, I wish he would he would you wish he dropped in. So she was not on the compassionate end of the cycle that that really taught me a lot to have somebody who was really angry, and, and really tried to injure me very directly, personally, and then being compassion for them. And now you get to that point where you are just in compassion. And so I've had a few like, you know, ups and downs, I thought I something, you crosses this threshold, a certain point that we call making the transition, where you're just completely at peace. And then stuff happens like I tell the story of whispering in chapter one, about how my house burned down in a California wildfire. And it was absolutely shattering. And eventually my wife woke me up at 12:45am and will shoot me by the shoulder and said something's wrong. I looked outside the window and there was this wildfires race it was the house we just spread it out as the trees above our head were catching ablaze and drove out of there at high speed and barely escaped from a fire that consumed 5000 homes and killed 22 people right around many of them right around us. And so we lost everything. We lost our home, we lost our office, we lost all our possessions, except for our phones and our car. And we had a very difficult couple of years after that. And that was only the start of bad things happening. Other other things happening that happened as well that those two years which I tell a lot in this brain. So we we have these things happen. And yet as I meditate and the year after the fire, at that point, I also lost my retirement savings because of things do the fire in the business. So I was broke, no possessions, no money, no home, living in a borrowed apartment. And I meditate. And I just write in my journal afterwards about how I felt so prosperous. So love so supported by the universe, I was in ecstasy, I thought I have just got to share this with people that you're up out of circumstances, you can lose everything. And you can still be not just okay. You can just be ecstatically happy every day giving thanks dancing and saying, my wife is to dance and dance around the the bar department, we put on some music after dinner, we will start dancing and we just had a wonderful time we traveled we did things we saw friends. So I wanted to I wanted to really share with people, your life does not have to be perfect on the outer level, for you to feel absolutely blissful on the inner level, you can lose everything and still feel ecstatic. And that's really the message of the spray is that you can move these states of ecstasy, and just get there. And so I plan to leave, I plan to keep on teaching. And doing my best to share this with people. I certainly do one time myself, I take three months off on a meditation retreat. In the winter, I go to Hawaii for three months. In the summer, I may go away for a month or a week. And just go to the forest and and spend time with you all that is because you want to give yourself that as well. So it's a balance between honoring that part of yourself that needs that nurturing, and that time with just losing yourself and ecstasy, with being an effective person running my nonprofit and running my business. So I want these things to be impactful and effective. And I also want time to step back and just bliss out and be on the mountaintop be in the cave in the Himalayas, metaphorically speaking. And just enjoy that experience to
Alex Ferrari 51:55
Dawson, you are an inspiration. My friend, I truly appreciate you coming on the show. I have a couple questions I ask all of my guests. What do you believe is your mission in this life?
Dawson Church 52:10
When I was a teenager, I had an experience, I was stuck in despair, and I was suicidal. And I had all the symptoms of PTSD. And then one day I was sitting in my room just sweating wanted to kill myself, I just didn't want to be I just did not want to be here. And I hadn't wanted to be there for about 10 years that point. And I suddenly had an experience of like, drifting and the universe drifting in light. And I literally felt as though I was seeing The Fabric of the Cosmos, and it was love. And so I thought at that moment, that's my mission in life, I'm just going to share this love however, it can take me a long time to work on the science of it and to have an effective message around it. But I think sharing love and so I asked myself, How can I share love and may see somebody who is suffering, I say how can I share love with them intelligently and effectively. And so sharing that message that we are loved, you know, Alex, we have these physical bodies, we have this 70 or 100 years on earth. And yet we come from infinite consciousness, and we return to infinite consciousness. And so the sooner like Ramana Maharshi dying at 16 The sooner we let our human personality, you know it's gonna die when we when our bodies dropped out anyway, having a die right now, all the saints Francis used to live with a skull in the corner of his room to remind themselves of mortality and just the the you know what like, claim to the self you think you are, it's pretty miserable. It's not having good time, drop that self and then suddenly become one with what you were before you were born, but you will be off to your buddy dies and then live your life is that. So letting people know that that's what we came here to do. And we have this hardware in our brain called the Enlightenment network, which is hard wired. I mean, nobody does not have the Lightning Network, every single person has that, that wiring in their brains, all you have to do is dial it up, which will dial down the default mode network, and you're gonna hit states of ecstasy that you just can't otherwise imagine. And then you're gonna be effective in the outside world. So my mission is to share with people this is possible to convince them and most people are hard to convince because they're so used to dealing with their stress filled life and their limitations. They think it's it's my body, it's my history. It's my indication, it's my genetics, blah, blah, blah, always excuses for not being our full, glorious selves. And when you drop all those excuses, and you just enter that state of communion, and then realize you're that and then you bring it in everyday life. Your life is just just an absolute marvelous gift every every moment and you don't need anything to do it. I wrote in my New Year's message to my community, I said just Notice your breath, your breathing. Just be grateful for your breath, take a step, look at your feet, be grateful you have feet, there are about 30 million people in the world with, with, with breath disorders and lung disorders, who can't take that breath and other 30 million who don't have feet. So you're taking your breath and having fun, you just start there with gratitude. And it's just fill you up with gratitude, to just be alive. And then you get to do things, get a hug, people have children, look into the eyes of friends, touch the grass, see the sunset? Wow, what a life.
Alex Ferrari 55:35
Dawson Church 55:37
Go live that life and not stay stuck in those little limited boxes we think we have to live in.
Alex Ferrari 55:43
It's like all the spiritual master says everything I can do you, you have the ability to do as well. Yeah, you know, so it's, it's, it's so funny that you're now connecting the spiritual with with the science like no, there's a thing in the brain. It's called the Enlightenment network, we call it and this is this. And then when you click this, this this, this, this is what happens. It's pretty fascinating. And what do you believe is the ultimate purpose of life?
Dawson Church 56:08
Well, if you flip those two things around, so we have minds and bodies and emotions. So we if you ask what is the ultimate purpose of, of your human life, I think the initial purpose of your human life is to understand and experience that you're more than that. And I think that you as life, you the infinite view, you as I'm dying consciousness, that that purpose of that that view, is to inhabit your body and your mind and your heart. And so there are these two, two halves of you two points of view, what is local YouTube, I call it the local mind, the local body, the local emotions, the local world. And so having a local world, just being in the local world is powerful. And then the purpose of that local self is to discover the non local self. And then the purpose of non local sell to non local, you're the consciousness you is to inhabit the local you effectively. That's why I'm already saying that the time to go to the monastery and go to the mountaintop. That was back then today. We have global warming, we have climate change, we have war, we have species extinction, we have pressing problems. We don't need people up in the Himalayas meditating, that's been done. We need people who are effective at social action, political action, we need social entrepreneurs, we need people who are passionate about living their transformative message and their lives. So that means bringing all that consciousness down into effective action at the local level. So the purpose of life again, in the local census is to hook up with non local, the purpose of non local is to be with local. And then that's the state that the Masters called non dualism, there was no I said, Never so me and Ed, there's there's one, and then that all flows together. And that is what I believe is going to make a huge difference in society. And in our world, we're going to solve all kinds of social problems, natural problems, income, inequality problems, climate problems, species of thinking problems, with the wisdom, we don't get it from local wisdom, we get it from non local wisdom, and we're going to be having, as human beings, collectively will have a huge impact on the well being of the planet in the coming decades as we translate that purpose of all life into our local reality.
Alex Ferrari 58:40
And Dustin, where can people find out more about your work and get your get the new your new book, bliss brain and so on?
Dawson Church 58:48
Alex, the best places to go to thisbrain.com Because you can get the book there for free, you pay shipping and handling that you get the book free, and you also get paid meditations. And we've done MRI research on those meditations. And they start actually rewire this part of the brain and the compassion part. Within four weeks, we have a study coming out in a top top tier journal later this year, showing significant rewiring of the brain with a little while. So go to thisbrain.com to get the book and the meditations. We also have an immunity meditation at a different site. And that is one based on research we've done showing that as your cortisol drops, using certain kinds of meditation, your immunity rises. And so that meditation is at dawsongift.com dawsongift.com And then the third thing to do is download our free app school stress solution download from the App Store and that's where you can actually get an EFT session from a live in person practitioner right through your smartphone anytime you want. So that stress solution and that's the app as well worth getting. So those are three places thisbrain.com Dawsongift.com and the stress solution app.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:05
Dawson thank you so much for coming on the show I and I not only appreciate you coming on the show, but thank you so much for everything you're doing for the world and for your fellow your feathers, fellow fellow souls out there and and everyone listening please go meditate. Meditations meditate. We need more meditation meditators in this world. If everyone meditated the world would be such a different place, wouldn't it?
Dawson Church 1:00:37
It would be Yeah, absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
Thank you again, my friend.
Dawson Church 1:00:40
It's been a joy. Thanks, Alex.
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