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‚ÄčDr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with a Masters and PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input.

During her years in clinical practice and her work with thousands of underprivileged teachers and students in her home country of South Africa, and in the USA, she developed her theory (called the Geodesic Information Processing theory) of how we think, build memory and learn, into tools and processes that have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD), autism, dementias, and mental ill-health issues like anxiety and depression. She has helped hundreds of thousands of students and adults learn how to use their mind to detox and grow their brain to succeed in every area of their lives, including school, university and the workplace. Dr. Leaf’s You-Tubes videos, podcasts, and TV episodes have reached millions globally. She has been featured on Elle, TED, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Something You Should Know, Getting Curious, and many other TV, radio, podcast, and print outlets.


Dr. Leaf is currently conducting clinical trials using her 5 step program she developed while in private practice to further demonstrate the effectiveness of mind-directed techniques to help relieve mental ill-health problems such as anxiety, depression and intrusive thoughts. The primary aim of these trials is to make mental health care more affordable, applicable, and accessible worldwide, and to reduce the stigma around mental health.
‚Äč
Dr. Leaf is also the bestselling author of Switch on Your Brain, Think Learn Succeed, Think and Eat Yourself Smart and The Perfect You.

‚ÄčLearn more at:
 drleaf.com
Instagram, twitter: @drcarolineleaf
Facebook and Youtube: Dr. Caroline Leaf

‚Äč2:30 - LISTEN ON HIMALAYA: Download the free Himalaya App (www.himalaya.fm) to FINALLY keep all your podcasts in one place, follow your favorites, make playlists, leave comments, and more! And with Himalaya, you can LISTEN TO ‚ÄčTHE MELANIE AVALON PODCAST 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE!! ‚Äč

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‚Äč5:55 - Dr. Caroline Leaf's Background

‚Äč7:45 - Are The Mind And Brain The Same Thing?

‚Äč10:40How Do Our Thoughts ‚ÄčAffect Our Identity And Sense Of Self?

‚Äč12:00 Are We ‚ÄčDestined By Our Genes?

17:30 - What Is The Mind?

‚Äč21:45 - Do We Have A Positivity ‚ÄčOr Negativity Bias? ‚Äč

26:10 - How Fast Do Our Thoughts Change Our Genetic Proteins?   ‚Äč

‚Äč31:30 - How ‚ÄčYour Thoughts Affect You Physically

‚Äč33:30 - How Do We Form Memories? How Do Thoughts Become Habits? ‚Äč

40:00 - The Conscious Vs. Non Conscious Mind

‚Äč44:00 - Food Sense Guide: Get Melanie's App To Tackle Your Food Sensitivities! ‚ÄčFood Sense‚Äč Includes A Searchable Catalogue of 300+ Foods, Revealing Their‚Äč ‚Äčamine, histamine, glutamate, oxalate, salicylate, sulfite, and thiol Status. ‚ÄčFood Sense Also Includes Compound Overviews, reactions To Look For, lists of foods high and low in them,‚Äč the ability to create your own personal lists, ‚ÄčAnd More!

‚Äč41:15 - Changing Your Perception - Veto Power! ‚Äč

‚Äč43:15 - Dr. Caroline's Switch App To Change Your Mind

49:15 -‚Äč‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčThink and Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscientific Approach to a Sharper Mind and Healthier Life ‚Äč

‚Äč46:20 - How You Become What You Think About

49:40 - What  Diet Should We Follow?

‚Äč52:00 - Changing Your Mindset To ‚ÄčChange Your Health, Body, Reality, And Life

53:40 - Can Anyone Change?

59: 30 - Should We Set Goals?

1:00:30 - Why Failure Is A Good Thing!

1:02:30 - Dr. Leaf's Clinical Trials

1:03:30 - What Is Depression?


TRANSCRIPT 

Melanie Avalon:
Hi friends. I am overwhelmingly excited about our guest today on the show. We have Dr. Caroline Leaf, and her work is, honestly, it's life-changing, it's astounding. I am just so happy and thrilled to have her here. But a little bit about Dr. Leaf, she is a Communication Pathologist and Cognitive Neuroscientist, and she has a Master's and a PhD in Communication Pathology, and a Bachelor of Science in Logopaedics, and she specializes in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology.

Melanie Avalon:
I know that's a lot of big things going on. Caroline, would you like to talk a little bit about your background, and what that is exactly, and what you do with the brain-mind connection?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Absolutely. Well, Melanie, it's wonderful to be on your show, so thank you so much for having me on. Thank you. You did well pronouncing all those words. I know everyone gets tongue-tied over them. The easiest way to understand what I do is that I'm a cognitive neuroscientist, or a scientist that studies the mind-brain connection. So I don't work in labs with rats, I work with real people in the field, and I work around people that have had brain damage, maybe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is sports injuries, or car accidents, or dementias, or learning disabilities, autism, people that are battling with trauma, people that have been through terrible things and have tremendous emotional challenges, to just be helping people day-to-day coping with the challenges of life. Life is filled with challenges, the human condition.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
My background, logopaedics actually comes from the word mind. Logo comes from the word [inaudible 00:01:38], which means mind. So I'm a mind specialist, and I focus on mental health as a science. I see mental health as something that all of us have naturally. It's the design of our brain and our body, but the challenges of life can throw us off course in a multitude of ways, and we need to know how to cope in the situation.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So my research has worked looking a lot at a different approach. I go towards the fact that the mind and the brain are not the same thing. A lot of people, when you talk about mind, they think it's the brain, or when you talk about brain, they think it's the mind. So people use mind and brain as a synonym, when actually they are two completely different things, but they work together. I don't even know if thing is the right word, but the mind is pretty much your spiritual or your non-physical part of you. In science, we call it the non-physical part of you, and we understand the non-physical part of you with things like quantum physics, which is also one of the fields that I've done theoretical research in. So we can understand it through mathematics, through philosophy, through many different fields, psychology, neuropsychology, metaphysics, et cetera.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That is what we see has been 99% of who we are as humans. So we've got this massive quantum infinite part of us that is most of who we are, and if we don't understand that, which it's pretty hard to understand, but if you don't get an insight into that part of us, it can block our developments as humans, and really make life very challenging.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
The other side is the physical brain, and the physical body, which collectively are made up of about 75 to 100 trillion cells. So the physical part is the brain and the body, and that's about 1% of who we are as a human. Then the non-physical part is about 99% of who we are. I've researched the connection, I've tried to understand what the non-physical is, I've tried to understand the physical, and the relationship, and how the two work together, which involves thinking, feeling, choosing, changing structure in the brain, fitting the genome, the fitting brain structure, and then how this all plays out into how we basically run our lives and manage with life. So that's a big answer.

Melanie Avalon:
There's so much there, and I am so grateful for you, because you're doing all this work, and you're really painting a wonderful picture of how we function with both the brain and the mind, and how it influences our identity. But you really have brought that to the popular level, so listeners might be familiar with Dr. Leaf's work. She wrote some books ... some books, she wrote quite a few books. She wrote the Best-Selling, Switch On Your Brain, also Think, Learn, Succeed, The Perfect You, Think and Eat Yourself Smart, and quite a few more. I have read all of those books. Dr. Leaf, they are absolutely amazing.

Melanie Avalon:
There's a reason that you are doing ... I mean, you've become such a presence for so many people with your work. You've been featured on many TV shows, and articles, and interviews, and it's because you make all of this really complicated material, in reading your work, very understandable.

Melanie Avalon:
I was reading all of your books, and I was like, "Oh, this just makes so much sense." And it's so motivating, and encouraging to show us how we can change, and really address that mind-brain connection. So I was wondering, to start, if we could just get a general idea of if you could help explain how our thoughts and our brains and our mind, how that all impacts our identity and our sense of self, because I think so many of us feel like we just are our thoughts, that whatever we think is who we are. But in reading your books, it becomes very clear that our thoughts are shaping our identity, and that we can change that. Then that even extends to the physical level of ourselves, and our health, and everything beyond there.

Melanie Avalon:
So that's a lot of questions, but how, in general, do our thoughts influence our identity and our sense of self?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Fantastic question. Thank you, Melanie, for your kind words about my books. I'm very pleased that they are helping people. It's a fascinating subject, and being in the field for 30 years now, it's quite long enough, I've practiced clinically for 25, and I've done research for 30, I still do research, I still do clinical trials, and I know later on in the show we'll talk about that. But what it's really shown me is that we kind of instinctively as humans know that we're pretty brilliant. We know deep down inside that we have impact, and that we know we have free will, and we know we can choose.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So if you really, really think about who you are as a person, we recognize that. But we do live in a world that tends to tell us that the main message coming through the media is one of, for about the last 50 years, has been one of, "You are your brain, and you are your genes, and your genes made you good, and you have this gene causes this, and this gene causes that, and this part of your brain does that." It's a very unfortunate situation, because in the 1980s, up to the 1980s, they didn't believe that the brain could change. So I was trained in an era where we were told that if your patients had brain damage, well, you've got to teach them to compensate, your brain can never change.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
And I didn't believe that, because I knew that deliberate mind into action, you can change it. There is evidence all around us, and all those stories of people's lives that have gone through extreme circumstances and how they've changed. So the evidence is there that when people really put their minds to something, they can get through the most extreme situations. The evidence is also there that when you love and support people, and you have deep, meaningful relationships, that people change.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So there's evidence all around us that shows us that mind is a real thing, and that self is a real thing, and that self has impact, and that self is hugely complex, and that we aren't just physical substance, we aren't just the result of our neurons firing or our genes pre-programmed, and our destinies, we don't equate to our DNA, like Dawkins says. There's so much more to us as humans, our complexity.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
And we all know that, so it's kind of preaching to the choir, but there's a mixed message that causes a lot of confusion in people, because although we know instinctively that we have got this brilliant complexity and that we do impact the world, and we have a sense of self and a sense of consciousnesses, there is still that other side of the coin where we read science, and science is so influential, and science is so media-driven, and unfortunately a lot of funding for a lot of science these days is based around people producing very, what we would call neurocentric, or brain-based, or reductionistic type research that says you are your genes, and you are a pre-programmed robot. That's kind of the main message of the media.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So there's a tremendous conflict in humans, and that's what I have picked up in my work over the years as a clinician, and as a researcher. Ai mean, just as a mom, as a friend, and now with all of the talks, we talk globally, and we have a kind of global platform where we're reaching many different people in many different environments, including universities, churches, schools, education, corporate. I find consistently, wherever I am in the world, and wherever I go, I am finding that that sense of self is in conflict because of the mixed message that we know we are complex, we know we impact the world, we know that we are unique, but then we're told we're just pre-programmed robots. You kind of don't know what to believe.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So the message, that message, just the confusion alone is enough to make people almost lose their identity or sense of self, and turn to different things to try and find out who they are. This is also why there's such a plethora of self-help books out there that do so well. It's a $45 billion industry because people are all trying to find the seven steps to success, and the five steps to being you. And the message that we see in the media to counter the scientific message of you are your genes is very much one of you can do it, and the five steps to have this. You know what I'm talking about, there's so much of that out there.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
When you look at it scientifically, you really, really look at the science, and it's what I've tried to do for 30 years in my own research, is you [inaudible 00:09:44] that from the physical level, the 1%, to that 99%, there is an unchallenged, uncompromised, unique selfness that exists. There's a you. There's a type you, there's no one like you. You are perceiving these words in your own unique way, you're hearing the same message a whole lot of people, but you're hearing it in your own unique way. You know you are you, and you know deep down inside that you need to manifest in order to be able to do what you just instinctively are driven to do, and that's a whole lot of stuff, and it changes through your life, but you know that you achieve meaning and impact. And that is, for sure, a consistent cry across the world.

Melanie Avalon:
That's absolutely wonderful. That was one of the main takeaways that I got reading your book, The Perfect You, that there is this perfect you inside all of us, and it's just a matter of unleashing that, and letting that out, and not being bound by what society is telling us we are, what you were talking about with this feeling of genetics, or this feeling that even our current thoughts are defining who we are, when really there is this mind. Which, that's fascinating that you said the body is about 1%, the brain is about 1%, and then the mind is the 99, rest of that.

Melanie Avalon:
One of the main things that I took away, actually, in reading your book Switch on Your Brain, which is one of your Best-Selling books, and that was the idea that we have a positivity bias, which I found really, really interesting because I've always been researching the brain-mind connection, and why we do what we do, and why we think what we think, and why we act the way we act. Often in my research, I'm told that we have a negativity bias. I guess our brains are in a fear state, and looking for what's wrong in the environment.

Melanie Avalon:
But you make the argument that actually we have a positivity bias, and that we're wired for love, and that having these feelings of love, hope, peace, gratitude, that they affect our brain, our mind, our sense of self. Would you like to talk a little bit about that, about our positivity bias and how that affects our sense of self?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Absolutely. If I can link that just very quickly to the last questions about the sense of self, and how we think our thoughts define us, and then answer the question of the positivity bias, what I think might be worthwhile, Melanie, is just to define for the listeners what mind is, because it's one of those questions called a hard question of science. They tend to associate mind in the scientific literature with the concept of the hard question of science, so consciousness. When you talk about mind, they talk about consciousness, and consciousness is the hard question. Then the easy question is, well, we can define brain, we can define neurons, we've done the research, we understand about 10% of how the brain functions. So the hardwiring is really well understood, although new stuff is always coming out.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So the brain, the physical is all the tissue, the actual cells, et cetera. Then you've got your mind, which is this almost seemingly ethereal thing, but it's not because it is the force, and it's an energy force, and it's you, and it's your ability to think, and feel, and choose. So my definition of mind encapsulates consciousness and the non-conscious. The conscious and the non-conscious mind are both very active, always awake, always on the go, and so the mind is the non-conscious and the conscious. The simplest definition of mind is that it's your ability to think and feel and choose bold thoughts, and then access those thoughts that you've thought. So thoughts are memories, same thing. When I talk about a thought, I'm talking about a memory.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So mind is your thinking, feeling, choosing, and the ability to, as you think, feel, and choose, you actually create. And what do you create? Thoughts. And what are thoughts? They're basically matter. They're physical substance. You store that thought in your brain, and this is why your mind needs your brain, because your thoughts are this energy field, all quantum energy and sound, that basically moves through your brain. Your brain responds to this energy flow on an electrical, clinical, electromagnetic, and quantum level, and that generates a flood of energy through your brain that activates genetics, the genome, the gene, and the gene switches on, and you build physical changes in your brain to hold these thoughts.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Your thinking is also influencing all the cells of your body to function. You're doing this 24/7. So 24/7, you use your mind, which is you're thinking, feeling, and choosing, which encompasses your non-conscious and your conscious, to drive this energy through your brain. Your mind uses your brain to respond. You express yourself to your brain and your body, and your mind uses your brain to store, physically, the substance of memory.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So you're changing your brain constantly as you are thinking, and the changes that you make are physical thoughts that you build into your brain, and you also build it into your non-conscious 99%. That all creates a sense of self, because it's your unique perception, because no one sees the world like you see the world. No one can do what you can do. You can't be anyone else. You make a lousy someone else, but you make a great you.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That sense of self is very blocked, as I said in the previous question, by the world telling us that you are pre-programmed, and that this type of personality test says you're that type of personality, always trying to categorize you into a category when you are type you. Bringing that back to that sense of self and that sense of mind to the current question, the negativity-positivity bias, what does that mean?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
What we see from pure neuroscience, pure brain science, is that the circuits of your brain, the cells of your brain, the neurons and so on, the structures of your brain, the structures of your body, the cells of your body, the stuff inside the cells, eight down to the level of the proteins and the fats, right down to the subatomic level of particles and protons, all of that, there's no wiring for anything toxic. So in the human physical body, we do not have any subatomic particles or structures within our cells, or structures within our brain or body, or circuits, neurotransmitters, anything for negativity. So worry, fear, anxiety, irritation, frustration, lack of joy, lack of peace, hatred, all that toxic stuff, trauma, bullying, war, we don't have circuitry for that. We don't have anything for that, so those are created results of us thinking, and feeling, and choosing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We find that every part of our wiring is designed for the positive. It's called an optimism bias, and that's on a pure and utter physical level. We see this transfer, as I said, right from the macro level, which is the big stuff, the structures, down to the micro levels, which is the subatomic particles and waves and sonar in the quantum world.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Therefore, when we get irritated, it's something simple, you're in traffic and you get irritated, or like last night we got stuck on the runway because of the storms in Dallas, flying back from Florida, we got stuck in the runway for three and a half hours, and then another two hours trying to get luggage in our car. So it was five hours of waiting, late at night, after an exhausting weekend of doing conferences, I could feel the irritation rising very fast.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Now, knowing what that does in my brain, I don't have circuits for irritation. If I had fed into that irritation and frustration, I would have created distorted energy in my brain, which would have created distorted message to my genes, which would have then switched my genes on, and I would've created proteins that would've been distorted, and I would've built a pattern in my brain, a physical tree-like structure in my brain of proteins that were all ... the proteins were folded incorrectly, the energy levels were incorrect, the neurotransmitters were incorrect, so I would've built a brain-damaging substance structure in my brain, which would have made me feel awful and really not helped me to handle the situation.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So instead of doing that, knowing that I know that, I expressed it, because you can't deny it, it was irritating. But immediately captured that and decided, "Okay, well there's nothing much I can do. I may as well use it as a constructive time," and I ended up reading a fantastic book, and used the time constructively. But it was a choice I had to make, and so therefore instead of building the destructive genetic pattern, which my brain is not wired for, which would've created a lot of negative cycles through my brain and body and my mental health, and my sleep, and everything, I decided I didn't need that, and I did the positive.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That's a daily choice that we make all day long with everything, and that's what I try and teach in my work. That basic fundamental principal is that you do not have wiring for toxicity. Then you think, "Okay, well why on earth do people get angry and frustrated?" Well, that simple example I hope kind of identifies it. What did I do? I had a choice to make. I was thinking and feeling in response to the situation I was in, and I had to make a choice. That choice was, "Am I going to get irritated? Or am I going to just deal with the situation and make it work for me, and therefore, by doing that, make my body work for me?"

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Because the research also shows that because our body is wired for love, and our brain's wired for love, by me deciding I'm not going to get irritated, I then made all my 1400 neurophysiological responses of the stress response, which is a very healthy response, I made it work for me, which meant that I had more blood flowing to my brain, more oxygen flowing to my brain. And all these 1400 neurophysiological responses throughout my brain and body were all working to bring healing and strength to my body.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
As opposed to if I had got irritated, and complained, and moaned, and carried on ... I mean, I did get irritated at first, but it lasted only a few minutes and then I was over it. Because you can't suppress things either, that's another thing we can talk about too, is it doesn't help you to suppress it and pretend it doesn't exist. Get it out, say it, and then do something about it. That then created a pattern in my brain that brought healing, instead.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
If I didn't do that, I would have created the toxic pattern, which would have upset those 1400 neurophysiological responses, and stress would've worked against me instead of for me, and all kinds of things would've gone wrong, which would have carried through into my sleep, and into today, would have made me feel like ... you know when you just feel like things just are irritating you and everything, one thing after another just irritates you? I could have had a day like that today. We all know when you have days like that you're not constructive. I didn't allow that. I chose not to because I know what it's doing in my brain and my body.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So I used my mind, which is my thinking, feeling, and choosing correctly, to change that. Does that help you sort of understand it?

Melanie Avalon:
Oh yeah, that paints a very clear picture. I wanted to ask a few followup questions about that specifically. When we're in these moments, like you were discussing, where you do have the potential to entertain the irritation, or to choose to reframe and make it beneficial and serve you rather than be against you, you talked about proteins turning on and off when we make these decisions in any moment as to how we're going to react. Does it happen right away that these proteins change in our bodies? Then how long do the effects of that last? Do they carry on throughout the next few days? I'm just wondering on a very literal physical level how quick these changes are happening when we choose with our minds to interpret a situation differently and act differently.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Okay, brilliant question, Melanie. I love it. Okay, basically what happens is that, imagine a fire. This is a good analogy. Imagine when you start your fire in your fireplace, if you've got a gas fire, and you see the flames lighting, and just see the flames, that's kind of what it looks like in your brain when you're thinking, and feeling, and choosing. You're generating this quantum action. On certain types of brain technology, like a qEEG, we'll see this beautiful fire burning in your brain. It's not really burning, it's basically a cloud of energy. What it does is it generates, it immediately creates an electrochemical response in the brain, so there's high, high activity in the brain.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That becomes a signal that is literally like you going up to a light and switching it on. So that energy goes up to the genes, the genes are ... So you think of the chromosomes, they're like a little x, and if you unwind, then you've got a ladder, and on the ladder, you've got your genetic codes, you've got these little ... think of a ladder with two rungs, or four rungs is an easier way to visualize it. It's doing nothing, and now you're thinking, feeling and choosing, and you've got this powerful energy like a fire that goes up and kind of bumps the switch on the outside, and they switch on, and they make proteins, and those proteins, they make amino acids, which group to form proteins, which group to form these little structures in your brain that look like trees.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
There's a lot of other steps in the process, but just imagine that. So from genes being switched on like you switch on a light, and boom, the light comes on, this fire goes as the signal switches on the little genes, the genetic code. Boom, they switch on, and now you've got this growth happening in your brain. That growth is a bunch of proteins that group together in branches, and those branches are made up of tiny, tiny, tiny little quantum neurobiological computers that are vibrating and holding the inclination.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
You're doing this right now as you're listening to me, so are the listeners. You're taking my words, and you're doing this exact process that I'm describing now. You're building my words into these little tiny quantum neurobiological computers that are vibrating and holding this information.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
The design of those little computers inside the branches is all determined by yourself, by the you-ness, by yourself, as the first question you asked. And it's happening at 400 billion actions per second. Actually, it's happening faster. It's happening at about 10 to the 17, but it's a difficult number to picture, so that's why I say 400 billion actions per second. But it's fast, it's about probably closer to 800 billion actions per second. It's very fast. That is on the non-conscious, non-physical 99% part of us, which is quantum. It's beyond space and time.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We experience that change every 10 seconds. So what you will experience physically on a very practical level is an awareness of something going on kind of every 10 seconds. We can channel that awareness into a very constructive way to learn to self-regulate, or we can kind of ignore it and just become reactive. Most people in the technological age, unfortunately, and with the pressures of life, we've become very reactive. We don't always control ourselves. We may talk about controlling our thinking and controlling what we're saying and what we're doing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
What we're doing is we actually, on a scientific level, we are talking about controlling how we consciously evaluate our thoughts and feelings and emotions every 10 seconds. And it's something we can train ourselves to do. It means that you're constantly aware, not in a weird way, but you're constantly aware of what you're saying, what you're thinking, what you're feeling, the impact on yourself, the impact on others. It makes you a much, much, much, much more controlled and nicer person because you realize, "Hey, I'm getting irritated. Why am I getting irritated? Why did I react like that? Look at that person's face. I'm offending them. Maybe I misunderstood them. Maybe I should ask them what they're saying." Maybe you move in a certain way, and you realize a person's flinched, and you realize, "Oh gosh, I didn't mean to make them flinch, I just was responding," and you control your body movements.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That creates a tremendous improvement in communication between people, which reduces all kinds of problems. It also makes you very aware of, "Should I actually be saying these words? Is this a good thing to say? What am I thinking?" Instead of just blurting things out and just saying things and reacting, you start to control that.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Let's say you go through the situation, and I had that situation last night, as soon as I started getting frustrated, I was, because I've trained myself to be so self-regulated, I saw and felt the physical reaction in my body. Because that's not normal, it's not a default mode, I immediately felt that tense, I immediately felt like ... and if you continue in that zone, you start almost feeling fluey. Your body has discomfort zones, and there's lots of them. I talk about four in my book, The Perfect You. But you start getting this whole reaction.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
The more you stay in it, whatever you think about the most will grow. And if you keep thinking about it, after five hours of being totally irritated, you will be feeling awful, fluey. You could have flu symptoms, you could have heart palpitations. There's an all number of physical reactions that make you feel horrible. Also, then, everything will start irritating you in different ways, and you start seeing things in a very negative way because you create a toxic wave of energy in your brain that kind of blocks your ability to think clearly. You have less oxygen flowing, less blood flow, you get a buildup or clogging of neurotransmitters. All minds of negative scientific reactions. You font have enough serotonin flowing, and dopamine flowing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
If it's just a short time, like a burst, like a five, 10 minutes thing, and you deal with it, it's going to diffuse and go away. But if you stay in that pattern, it can carry over into the next day. It carries over until you stop it, and the longer you keep it going, the more to fix. You start looking at everything differently. Suddenly everything is just difficult. Whereas if you capture that, bring it back, don't allow it, you won't allow that negative energy and thought pattern, because thoughts are energy, to invade the rest of the things that you have to do. That was that incident, you keep it under control, under lock and key, and you deal with it and move forward. Otherwise, it penetrates into everything else that you do.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So often, we can end up having a really lousy day and a lousy week, but if we actually track it back, it started with an incident that we didn't control, and then everything after that, just it was one thing after another.

Melanie Avalon:
Wow. So basically, our constant present experience of the universe, every 10 seconds, the way we experience it, having potential to experience something new, reevaluate it, it's making changes very fast in our genes and our proteins, which that is very encouraging. But then I guess that also explains the friction and the dichotomy into we fall into these patterns and these habits and this sense of identity that it seems that it's hard to break out of, this sense of self that oftentimes I feel like we just automatically revert to reacting a certain way and being a certain way.

Melanie Avalon:
I'm wondering, does that play into what you were talking about in the beginning with how when we form thoughts that those are memories? Because I was reading the other day that whenever we experience something, if we've already experienced it, that we automatically revert to the first emotional association, or the first memory that we had when we experience that. So basically, in a way, our brains want to be lazy because they ... correct me if I'm wrong, but our brains want to be lazy, so we automatically fall into certain habits and certain ways of experiencing things, rather than see it in the moment and evaluate it, and potentially, I guess, reevaluate it.

Melanie Avalon:
My question is, how do you explain the friction between the potential for experiencing something in the moment as something new, and it affecting our genes and our proteins, versus our longer term sense of self, and habits, and identity? Because, for example, you talked about with habit formation in your book that it takes 21 days to start a new habit, and then three cycles of that, so ultimately 63 days to start new brain patterns. How do you tackle that friction between the moment to moment change versus the longer term change, and the neuroplasticity in our brain and the patterns that we form?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Okay, so this whole theme that I've been describing so far in terms of mind changing brain, remember all the time that mind is the non-physical 99%, brain is the physical, and mind changes brain. So you're building matter out of mind, that's the basic principle. You're building instantly, you're building a memory in the now moment, but short-term memory will only last for 24 to 48 hours. Long-term memory takes 21 days to stabilize, and then a habit takes, as you mentioned already, 63 days to form, so 21 times 3.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We've all been told it takes 21 days to build a memory. That's a myth, like a lot of myths that we have. Certain people will say something that gets into the media, or now through technology, things can become myths very fast. It's quite funny how it happens. It's not really science, though. But the scientific example is that it takes a lot longer, sometimes can take up to 84 days.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
But the essential point there is that if we find, what you've basically described, what you read, is that basically we experience something, and the idea that they explained of the brain being lazy and it just reverts to patterns that it's comfortable with ... The brain is actually just a physical thing, it's not self-emergent, which means it can't think. It doesn't do any thinking, it doesn't do any generating.

Melanie Avalon:
That's such irony.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Yeah, compared to what you've read, yeah. That's basically the media message that your brain does everything. But your brain can't, because if you were dead now, your brain would do nothing. We could stare at your brain all day, and it wouldn't think. No matter how much you tried to make it think, it wouldn't. So it's that energy from you that is using your brain. Your brain simply is a responder, that's all it's doing. So your brain does what you tell it to do.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So if you spent a lot of time thinking about something, and you've spent daily, like you get into something and you think about it, and you think about it, and you think about it, it's easy if you think of it like your relationships, or your work. It's easy because you're thinking about that a lot. Or something happens to you, and someone hurts you, and you keep thinking about it, and this injustice, and that, and this and this. Before you know it, if you thought about it just seven minutes a day, just four minutes a day, every day, for 21 days, you've actually built a long-term memory of that particular whatever in your brain. Then you keep still thinking about it.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So after the initial building process, which is the most work, and then what you're just doing is you're automatizing it, which is the fancy word for habit-forming. Then it's a consistent, you may not think about it as much, but it still comes back to you almost every ... it's become like this overarching view that you have of life, that every day, that thing is in your face. You may not consciously think every day about what this person did to you, but the essence of what it has made you feel is there, and it comes back to you periodically during the course of the day with maybe a second here, or five seconds there, or five minutes there, or something. So before you know it, 63 days, nine weeks later, you have actually turned this into a long-term habit.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Let me give you another example that's even more simple, as opposed to someone doing something to you, that's one example, another example, let's say that you're driving down the same road to work every day, and you watch your same favorite program on TV, and you're looking at the same kind of research, as you know from all the algorithms, you're going to see the same adverts on your phone or your computer when you're looking up certain things you're interested in. The algorithm comes, you'll see those adverts they designed for you. You see the same billboards, and adverts, and fast food joints down the road, and you have the same direct to consumer advertising. I'm talking about in terms of, let's say, food.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So you'll see the same advert every day, multiple ways, over a three month period, because you're driving to work and back for three months, and you happen to be sight ... whatever. So there's a repetition, and that repetition will build that information into your brain as well. So you may not be consciously and deliberately trying to find out stuff about that fast food or that way of eating, or those particular tablets, or that particular brand of food. But because of your lifestyle, because of where you are and what you're looking at, et cetera, you're exposed to that, so you become, the brand familiarity is built in your brain. That then influences your perception as you make a choice about food, or as you make a choice about how you're going to handle a similar situation, or that person comes back in your life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So whatever you've spent a lot of time ... The way that the brain, the reductionistic, neurocentric view of the kind of article that you said you read would say that your brain is lazy, your brain as this pattern, it diverts back to what's comfortable. The way I would explain it, which I believe is the correct science, is that your repeated attention made it grow. Marketing knows this, that's how marketing works, all based on the principle that repetition will build the automatization and brand recognition. It's all based on the automatization principle that I'm describing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
And that's inside your brain. You've now got this memory, you've now got this habit, you've got this pattern. When something similar comes up, you're hungry, or you're in a similar situation with similar emotions being activated, those are the memories that will then move from the non-conscious mind, which is the bigger part of the 99%, it's the main part of the 99%, it's active 24/7. The conscious mind is only active when you're awake, and it's the smallest part of the 99%. It occupies about 10% of the 99%, whereas the non-conscious mind occupies a good 90% of the 99%, and it's always active. That's where the memories are stored.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Your conscious mind is your kind of working mind. It's your experience at the moment, it's the experience of now, it's the reading or the talking, the what's going on. The conscious mind always works with the non-conscious. Conscious is only when you're awake, non-conscious is awake 24/7. And that, collectively, is your mind, your thinking, feeling, choosing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So when you're deliberately thinking, feeling, and choosing with your conscious mind in response to the advert, the situation, what you've read, what you're eating, the person, that draws on the way that you see the conscious moment, is based upon what you've already put into a non-conscious mind. So the signal of reading, talking, whatever, activates the non-conscious, something that's similar, and it's like putting on a pair of sunglasses. That is how you're viewing it, and you can consciously and deliberately view it in that way, or you can self-regulate and say, "Are these the best sunglasses? Or can I take these off and put these other ones on, which I can see better through, because maybe it's another angle?"

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
You are very powerful in that you can choose how you want to view a situation. You can stand back and evaluate the way you're viewing it because of what you've built in the past, and you can change that. You have veto. You have veto power. It's a powerful weapon. You actually have veto power.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
A lot of the research will tell you no, that you're pre-programmed. We see from the research, I've done a lot of this work as well, all this non-conscious, conscious stuff is what I've done theories and stuff on. But we see that 500 milliseconds before you actually make a choice to maybe pick up that food and eat it, or respond in that way, you've already drawn upon your existing memories, and you've already formed your perception, and you've already started making a connection between the conscious and the non-conscious mind, and you've already started viewing how you're going to respond.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So when you do respond, that moment, it's a very informed response based on your past, and you're able, at that moment, and this is what most of us aren't told, this is what most of us have been led to believe we can't do, and this is key to my work, is that at that moment, you can evaluate what is informing you from your past. Do you think that's good? Is it wisdom? Is it going to actually be positive for you in this next decision that you make? Is it wise to still be upset about that situation? Is it wise to reach out for that fast food junk food because you're hungry and you don't have time to take the time to go and buy some decent food, and rather don't eat if you're in a rush, rather get home and make decent food and eat when you can eat properly?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
All that kind of stuff, you are able, in that moment, to control and not be driven. That's key to my work, that's key to the techniques in my books, it's key to what I taught my patients, it's key to learning, it's key to education, to learning academically, it's key to managing your mind on a day-to-day basis.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
And Melanie, this all sounds complicated, but it's actually, I've spent years simplifying it, because the kind of patients that I work with in my practice certainly weren't there for a science lesson. I used science in a very simple way to help them understand what they were doing. But I developed a five-step process that teaches you how to, in every single thing that you do, whether it's an emotional situation, a conversation, a communication, a dietary issue, a learning moment, a lecture you're attending, whatever it may be, whatever the situation is, you are able to control that next moment.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
That's what my Switch app basically does. We've just released an app called Switch, which we released in June. Basically, that switch is audio-driven, as apps are generally, and video-driven, and it teaches you how to daily train your mind with those five steps, and how to apply to whatever extent you want to apply. Before I expand more about that, I'm sure you have a few questions about what I've just said.

Melanie Avalon:
That is absolutely wonderful, and what you were saying, that it sounds really complicated, but you're really simplifying it for people, so basically, I mean, it sounds to me like it's the idea that you are what you think about, or you become what you think about, that you see that very supported in your clinical research.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Absolutely, yeah. Basically, anything that you say or do is first a thought that you have thought. So whatever you've been thinking, feeling, and choosing, and building is going to produce what you say and do. So everything you say and everything you do is first a thought that you've built. So you're speaking now from experience. You've spent time reading my book, you've spent months, years, I don't know how long, reading about the mind-brain connection, so you have a knowledge base that you are talking from. You can't speak without it.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
This is the basic tenet here, is that everything you do and everything you say as a human is not some random event. It doesn't just pop out of your mouth. The things that you do aren't just actions that just suddenly happen. You can't physically do them unless you have built a network in your brain. We need brain material in order to walk, say, do, eat, think, write, speak, lecture, teach, whatever it is that you do in your life. Everything is coming from a thought that you have built.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Some thoughts are very well established, they've been going for years. Others are new, they're just a few days old, a few hours old. The stronger they are, the longer they've been there, the more influential they are, and more dominant they are in you. All this is part of shaping the self. And there's the toxic parts that need redesigning, reconceptualizing, and there's the traumas that need reconceptualizing and dealing with, which is a huge part of what I teach in my work as well, how to deal with trauma, and toxicity, and bad habits, and adverse child experiences, and all that kind of stuff, and mental health, depression, anxiety, et cetera. I even deal with the eating disorders, all that kind of stuff.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Then the other side of the coin is the good stuff. I mean, we have so much great stuff inside of us, all the great ideas, we have all the motivation, the passion, the things we're interested in, all of that.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So into this app, because I work with people that would be dealing from the extreme of trauma, to people that want to actually grow their brains, so executives in a company that wanted to be able to function at a higher level, or teachers that wanted to teach better, or students that wanted to perform at a higher academic level, people that want to master knowledge, to people that have had brain trauma and have forgotten a skill and need to relearn a skill or retrain their brain in some way.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So anything where you have to use your mind to do something to improve how you function on a social, emotional, cognitive level. All of that is in my books and my techniques. So the theories in the books, the different books handle different things. Like Switch on Your Brain is very much about the mind-brain connection, and in my 21 Day Brain Detox, which helps to understand this process of how we break down a toxic thought and build up a toxic thought in 21 days. Then the Perfect You book talks more about understanding how you're wired for this optimism bias, how to find that through a profile that I developed, and then how to read your body to help you stay there, and in the truth about mental health versus mental ill health.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Think, Learn, Succeed really takes the how to build your brain, the five steps on how to build your brain, to grow your brain, which is incredibly important to do daily to build your mental health and to be fit, functioning, and successful. I also talk about how to understand more about your identity in terms of how you uniquely think, feel, and choose. And then obviously mindsets, which we can maybe touch on that in a moment, but I'm trying to give you the essence in all of this.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
In the Think and Eat Yourself Smart book, talks about how thinking is 80% eating, and why it's important to eat not the modern American diet, and how adverts influence us, and what is organic versus conventional, and all the stuff that I know you know a ton of information about. But my angle with eating is that I don't promote a diet, I promote a way of eating, which is one rule: eat real food, mind food. So I don't mind what, you can do whatever diet you want, as long as it's real food, and as long as you use your mind, which in any case controls your digestive system and your nutrition, assimilation of nutrients into your body. So if you're toxic and worked up and irritated with something, your body is going to lose up to 80% of nutrition, no matter how healthy you're eating. It's very important to eat with our mind.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So all these things, it's such a lot that I'm saying, all those things I try to take ... this is lifestyle stuff ... simplify this into five basic steps, which is based on the science on thought, which is based on 30 years of research, and all these hectic theories in science that I'm talking about, and I've put that into, along with the content in the books, I've put that into the different techniques. Now all of that, we've encapsulated into my app called Switch.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
The app is designed in such a way that the first part of it, the main part of it is the basic five steps to help you understand how to do what I explained a few moments ago, where I spoke about as you're about to make a decision to get irritated, or to eat that food, or to do whatever it is the next thing you're doing in the moment of your day, whatever next reality you're about to create, that you can actually control that moment qualitatively so that you don't become the toxic thought, that you actually control what you want to become, that you design your next reality.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
And then how to apply that reality, that designing of your next reality into management of toxic thoughts, management of bad habits, management of the daily human condition, management of trauma, management of adverse child experiences, bullying, et cetera, whatever you've gone through, management of diet, management of if you're a sports person, if you are a surgeon, if you're a teacher, if you're a parent of a teenager, if you've got babies, if you've got ...

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We're trying to bring it into, those are all add-ons, so we're trying to make this as simple as you can for people because essentially it's a lifestyle, and what we see from the research is that people are dying 15 to 25 years younger now, in this generation, with advances in technology and advances in medicine. You are the age of my children, your age group and younger are going to die 15 to 25 years younger unless we get our mind management under control. This is what you're trying to do, I know, with your podcast. Your objective is to try and help people change their mindsets about life, and diet, and that kind of stuff, which is excellent because it's vital.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So my component is the sort of mind work behind how do you get someone to actually eat healthy, and exercise, and deal with a trauma, and deal with the toxicity, because the message today is, take a poll, it's not your fault, suppress it, you're just your brain, you don't have free will, you can't control it. It's a terrible message. We've been made to feel helpless, which has attacked our sense of self, which is the very first question you asked.

Melanie Avalon:
I could not agree more, and I am so grateful for the work that you're doing. And for listeners, if you go to melanie.com/switch, I'll have the show notes for the podcast there, and I will have links to all of Dr. Leaf's books. I cannot recommend you check them out enough, each of them. It's just absolutely amazing, and really can change the way you perceive the world, and now as we know, change your actual physical body, and sense of self, and identity when you change your thoughts.

Melanie Avalon:
I mean, you touched briefly on your Think and Eat Yourself Smart book. I personally love that one because it discussed how the brain influences food, and digestion. It was completely fascinating. So maybe in the future, we could talk more about that. But I cannot encourage listeners enough to check that out.

Melanie Avalon:
I want to be really respectful of your time. I have two quick questions before we end things. The first one is, knowing the timeline for when the brain can change, I think people often feel like they're stuck in certain ruts, or that the way they're thinking, or the physical symptoms that they're having are just forever going to be a part of their constitution. Both time and extent of symptoms, do you think anybody can change, regardless of how long they've been in a certain pattern of thinking? And can anybody potentially change physically by changing their mind? Can anything be addressed with their mind?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Absolutely, because your mind drives everything. Without your mind, nothing exists. So without you thinking, and feeling, and choosing, which is the actual power that goes when you die, when you die, there is no thinking, you aren't there anymore, it's just the physical remnant, so that's where you pretty much drive your reality. Now, I say that with respect to the situation that some people are in. We have to consider the socioeconomic, political, and traumatic situations that people are placed into and brought into. People don't control often where they live. It's kind of nurturing that they're given, and what they go through.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We all understand that. That's why it's so vitally important that we have deep, meaningful connections in our lives to help us, and that we also consider the fact that our world's moved away from a community basis. A lot of my work addresses the fact that you can't do this alone. You can do it, but you can't do it as effectively alone because more people are dying from isolation. As much, in fact more, than from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. People die more from isolation than those three top killers on an annual basis.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So number one in answering your question is yes, you are literally a superpower. You can change absolutely anything in your life. Even if it is, Melanie, the changes that you make, that you may still have cancer the rest of your life, or you may still be very poor because you're in a socioeconomic situation that is just not allowing you to make much more where you're at at the moment, it's not all about having millions of dollars, it's about having an intrinsically-driven peace.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
But the difference here is how you manage that situation. So all of us have a superpower to do that, we're all brilliant. I worked in South Africa for 25 years in the most poverty-ridden areas of Africa. I worked three days a week, eight hours a day, which is a lot of hours, in amongst the poorest of the poor in the pre-Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa, with people that were so poor, so AIDS-ridden, poverty stricken, uneducated, abused by the political system, traumatized, raped, sick, hungry, starving, you name it. And all I could go in there and do was teach them this message that I've been telling you about today in various different ways.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
I'd go into the schools and the community centers, and we'd have thousands that would attend at a time. That's where I cut my teeth on my research, and where I realized the resilience of humanity, and I realized that I will go there. The result won't necessarily be a bunch of millionaires, because I don't define that as success, but what was successful is that these people realized the power of community, the power that they had within them to learn how to control the pain and the emotions, how to deal with the trauma, how to come together and improve their lifestyles, and have deep, meaningful relationships, talk about their pain, connect with each other, manage their mind, manage their thoughts, learn how to learn, learn how to get educated. With education, leads to changes in the state of poverty. Learn how to get together and build gardens, build community centers, get little businesses going.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So what I did was teach them how to activate the power of the mind, so I literally, coming back to answering your question directly, yes, maybe those people didn't get rich and suddenly have it, but they had community, they had change, they had peace within, they had intrinsically-driven sense of success that was moving in the direction of constantly changing. That is so much better than our drive today, which is a physical drive, an extrinsic desire for happiness and success, that I've got to get from outside and get it in. It's very much defined by the extrinsic values of a commercially-driven, or a consumer-driven society, which is not the values of a community-driven society.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So I teach that value, and that's intrinsic to all of us. I teach people how to go intrinsically, and realize that this is in you, and realize that you can learn to actually be happy within the midst of whatever you're going through, and that whatever it is, if it's cancer, if it's a financial crisis, if it's a trauma in your family, it doesn't mean you're happy about the trauma and the crisis, but it means that you have a sense of peace, and a sense of knowing, and a sense of internal happiness that will help you to cope better within that situation so that you have more wisdom and clarity of how to manage and get through the situation, and move towards a more positive outcome, whatever that looks like.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So you literally, second by second, to answer your time thing, you are changing your brain by the way that you use your mind. And by changing your brain, you're creating a foundation from which to do the next thing in your life, to create the next reality. So you literally, the consciousness of your mind, what you're thinking about now is becoming the cells of the matter of your brain, and that becomes the foundation of what you say and what you do. You control that. You create your next reality.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So you, at this actual moment, you literally possess the power to change your brain, which when you change your brain, remember you're building the structure into your brain that's the root of what you say and do, so you need to decide what do you want to say and do. What do you want the next moment of your life to look like? And how can you get there? It takes time, and it takes grace, to give yourself grace, because you're not going to just get there overnight. It is a process, it is infinite, it's organic. It's not a fixed thing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So going hand-in-hand with that is I don't teach goals, I don't believe in goal-setting at all. I think it's totally restrictive. And I don't like labels. Labels lock you in, and goals lock you in. What I recommend to people is that you actually get to know yourself intrinsically, you develop this knowingness of who you are, and the power of creating the next reality, and you live in the now moment, but you have a big vision for the future. So instead of a goal, saying, "Okay, I'm going to do this by this date, and these are the steps," then suddenly it doesn't work out that way, then you can't deal with it because it hasn't worked out the way you wanted it, you need to have a possibilities mindset. I talk about the mindsets in my book, Think, Learn, Succeed.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Realizing that, "That's my vision. I would really like to get to the point where I'm educated in x, or I've got to the point where I'm healthy and have achieved ideal weight or whatever, or exercise routine, or that I actually am moving in the direction of the business vision," these are vision more than a goal. Then, being able to be flexible within that, realizing, "I'm creating. I must live in the now moment to create my next moment, create my next moment, and staying in that optimism zone."

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
When you experience the downfalls, and this goes wrong, and that goes wrong, not to pretend they don't exist, but you actually say, "Okay, this is fine. That didn't work. But that's okay to fail because that's not a problem, it means that I've learned what not to do." That changes how you get to your vision. "Okay, so I tried this, this didn't work. Okay, so let's try that." You're not thrown by the fact that failure will happen, because failure is not failure anymore. Failure becomes another opportunity to learn.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Then you create another kind of reality. That's a totally different reality. And it's little baby steps every day. That's why, also, this kind of thinking is all built into my app as well, to help people. I literally spend ... I can't talk about it enough with excitement, because people ask me, "How do I do this daily?" That's what you seem to be asking me, "How can I make this a reality? How can I make this now? What's the time around it?" Literally from four, to seven, to 15 minutes a day, as you get yourself into this thinking, if you take seven to 15 minutes a day, that will influence how you run the rest of your day. That's why I ended up creating the app. I still encourage people to read the books and things.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
On that note, Melanie, I've also done clinical trials. But before I go into that as the sort of last thing, did you want to just ask me something about what I've just said?

Melanie Avalon:
No, I just want to say that that is so freeing. So basically the idea that the answer isn't out there, the answer is inside of yourself, and that is just completely freeing. Then the fact that there's no failure, there's nothing wrong, everything is a journey. I mean, that's just so freeing to know that, A, we can find peace and happiness and "fix ourselves" within ourselves, and that it will be okay along the way, and there's nothing to fear about things going wrong or failing. Thank you.

Melanie Avalon:
I had a final question to end everything, but would you like to talk briefly, you have some clinical trials coming up?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Sure. Thank you. Because as a scientist, you never stop doing research, and I have never stopped over the 30 years. I work with teams of neuroscientists, and neurosurgeons, and neurologists, and top people around the world, primary care positions and so on, and they're part of a network that I've built. We do research together, and we do different types of trials, and different clinical trials, in different sites. But the whole objective, and people can go to drleafresearch.com, maybe Melanie you can put that in your show notes, but you can see what we're doing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
What I'm trying to do is make mental health ... Also, everything we're talking about today is mental health, and that the pressure and anxiety, and schizophrenia, and all these scary words, bipolar, et cetera, these are not illnesses. These are basically symptoms of some underlying something that's going on in your life, addiction, et cetera. These are all symptoms that something else is going on in your life, and that basically you need to address that, deal with the cause, reconceptualize it so that you can move forward.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
But the current message is that depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and bipolar, and OCD, and addiction, and eating disorders, that they're illnesses. They'll even tell you obesity is an illness, that genes are causing it, that there's a neurobiological component. But 50 years of this research, and billions of euros later and dollars later, they've never found a neurobiological cause, or a genetic cause of depression. Because depression is not a thing, depression is a reaction to life. It could be a trauma of a bullying, a rape, it could be a socioeconomic situation, it could be a family issue, it could be a relationship issue. There's always a cause for why we experience sadness, et cetera.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Therefore, sadness, anxiety, OCD, intrusive thoughts, toxic, these are not illnesses, these are mind reactions, and they are mind reactions that are normal to everyone, and we all experience them in different ways. We all can learn to manage those in community. We get the strengths from each other.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So my research is all about showing people that this is the human condition, and this is how you can manage sort of the moments of your life. For example, the Switch app is one of the versions of it we are testing in the clinical trial, and we're looking at a group of ... our first clinical ... not the first, the second, there's a whole lot, but the one that we are about to do is looking at people that have reported as having severe anxiety and depression, really battling with various different incidents. We are looking at their brain response, so we're looking at very advanced brain technology.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We're looking at their blood response in terms of, for example, their cortisol levels, and DHEA, which is a very important hormone in terms of being able to function cognitively and cope with stress inside. And we're looking at things like telomeres, which are like little socks on your chromosomes, and when you are toxically stressed and not managing life or not managing your thoughts and so on, eating badly is one of those components, those little socks shorten. And when they shorten, your genes don't function like they should, and that sets you up for all kinds of mind issues, and physical issues and whatever.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So we're looking at teaching people, using my app technology, and using the techniques I've developed over the years, and looking at how ... It's basically mind-directed neuro thesis, taking the technique and looking at how your stress levels, your blood levels, your brain, how these all improve when you use your mind correctly. The results of that will be that once we show that, okay, when you use your mind in this way, within three weeks, within six weeks, within nine weeks, and then within six months, we're looking at different time points, we'll be able to show things like when you do all the things talked about today, which is what basically my research is testing, we will see that there is an improvement in your cortisol levels, in your DHEA levels, in your homocystine levels, in your telomere little socks in your DNA, and all these things which show that your body is physically healthier.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
We'll see healthier brain responses, we'll see people managing on a self-reporting and narrative level, which is people's stories. We don't just look at the measures, we don't look objectively only, we look subjectively as well at what is your story. It's basically, the idea is to say, "Where were you at? Now we give you mind management techniques. How does that change you on a brain level, a blood level, a health level, how you see yourself level?" All the things we talked about today. Then, "How can I bring that technology in the most accessible and inexpensive way to the global platform, to humanity?" That's what our research is.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
So our first trial looks at people with anxiety and depression. We have a parallel trial looking at people just managing with constant stress. We're looking at people in other trials coping with Alzheimer's, suicide, eating disorders, teenage suicides. We're looking at a multitude of how negative thinking can cause brain tumors. So we're looking at, we have multiple different studies that we have set up over the next five years.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
Our first study is running now in July, and we hope to bring to science and to humanity the idea that, "Hey, guys, you're brilliant. You can control your thought life. It's not like something that's just out of control. It's something that's totally within your control, and you can learn to cope. There's tremendous resilience within you." That's basically the essence of the research.

Melanie Avalon:
That is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much. For listeners, that app is available on iTunes, and I'll put a link to get it, it's called Switch, in the show notes. So Dr. Leaf, I know that you have a lot of pressing things to get to, I have one very last quick question, it's something I like to ask every single listener on this podcast as the final question, and it's just because I know how important mindset is for everything, so you'll appreciate this. That is, what is something that you're grateful for?

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
I'm grateful for the fact that I actually know about my mind, and that I know how to use my mind to change my brain. It's actually the most incredibly freeing and uplifting thing that we have as humans, this ability to understand that our mind can change our brain, and our mind can control our brain. It's very freeing. Then the last thing I would say is that you cannot control the events and circumstances of your life, but you can control your reactions.

Melanie Avalon:
I love that so much. Well, thank you. Thank you for all of your work. I will continue to follow everything that you read, and really try to apply it, and sharing the word with listeners. Hopefully we can bring you back after those trials come out, and get some followups. I'm going to start using your app so I can report back on that as well.

Dr. Caroline Leaf:
It'll be amazing. Thank you so much.

Melanie Avalon:
No, thank you. Thank you so much for listening to the Melanie Avalon Podcast. For more information, you can check out my book, What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine, as well as my blog, MelanieAvalon.com. Feel free to contact me at podcast@MelanieAvalon.com. And always remember, you've got this.

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