#225 Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD on Spiritual Health

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the NY Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Mindd Foundation, the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is Medical Director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a certified KRI Kundalini Yoga teacher and a mother of two.

Today We Discuss

  • Kelly's recent trip to India
  • Why the USA is so sick spiritually
  • How do you reintegrate into the USA from Indian culture
  • What meditation practice has changed Kelly's life
  • The simple 3 minute exercise to make your day!

Transcript

Evan Brand: Dr. Kelly Brogan, welcome to the show!

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Total pleasure, total pleasure.

Evan Brand: Hey! So, we connected by a cool method. I had known about your work for a while – maybe I’d [emailed] you previously about doing a podcast, maybe I didn’t, but either way somebody sent you my Uber petition to ban synthetic fragrances and you said: “Hey, Evan, this is pretty cool. You beat me to the punch.” That was a fun way to meet! So, I really appreciate you helping out in trying to spread the word about it. 

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah! It was such a pleasant surprise to learn that we share the same health space is not, obviously, not that shocking but because I think there are people using these cool services and just feeling an inner agitation about it and frustration about it who don’thave the overarching perspective that you and I do about why this is really a health hazard. They just feel it’s gross. (laughs)

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: So, I was really surprised and super pleased to learn that you were behind it. Definitely like-minds.

Evan Brand: Yeah. So, if people are like: “What are you talking about?” I’ve mentioned it before but I created a petition on Change.org which you’ve probably come across before and I wrote a petition to Travis who’s a billionaire, CEO of Uber, which, apparently, there’s a viral video going around of him cussing out an Uber driver. I don’t know if you saw that video. 

Dr. Kelly Brogan: I didn’t have the pleasure, yeah.

Evan Brand: So, anyway, maybe not the nicest guy to try to get a hold of. But, anyhow, this petition is designed to have either a fragrance-free option or just ban synthetic air fresheners totally. I wrote up a story and put plenty of research and then Dr. Brogan came along andshe wrote an article, too, on her blog, KellyBroganMD.com, and it was all about Is Your Uber Air Freshener Making You Sick? And there’s plenty of research between the two of us in terms of phthalates and these synthetic fragrances and them being neurotoxins affecting the health of your future kids, affecting the nervous system – I mean, this is just nuts. So, obviously, this is only one piece of the puzzle but, for you, when you’re working with your patients, how big of the pie for health is the chemicals, the fragrances, the eating organic? Is there a percentage that you could say? “Yeah, this is 33% of the issue and then 66% percent [of] other stuff.” How do you break down your clinical care?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: So, I think because of my allopathic training and also my personality I spent a lot of my early, sort of, functional medicine career looking for the magic bullet, really. I switched over from prescribing meds and then I started looking for the magic cure, whether it was figuring out the culprit that was driving illness or figuring out the one intervention that was gonna change everything, whether it was a supplement or inoculation or whatever it was. In more recent years, my outcomes have really skyrocketed and I think it’s because I’ve abandoned that mentality and I’ve begun to embrace sort of like [an] “all at once” kind of an approach. So, it’s very basic pillars of lifestyle medicine but they’re applied simultaneously and with a pretty heavy-handed commitment. So, any of my patients would tell you that I’m not an 80/20 kind of gal. I believe really strongly in a one month, 100% commitment to lifestyle change. And so, part of that is addressing the toxicant issue, right? So, part of it is looking at every single purchase that you make and every single element and agent that your body comes into contact with and applying a different mindset of empowerment to that, right? So, because that’s always going to be a part of what my patients and online clients are doing, there isn’t a way to tease apart its relative impact. But, there’s no questionthat what we know about industrial pollutants and, really, the large-scale – as we were saying –large-scale human experimentation that’s underway when it comes to the unconsented exposures we encounter every single day. They’re synergistic, often. We used to think it was like the dose makes the poison. That’s what decades of toxicology research are predicated on. But, now, we understand that it’s like this potential cocktail effect and it’s this even low-dose but synergistic exposures then speak to your endocrine system’s speak to your established stress response patterns and have a specific impact on you, personally, and then, maybe, accumulate with other burdens; whether it’s dietary burdens or sleep deficit or movement deficit or other kinds of stress exposures. And so, it’s a way to drain the bucket to begin to become more mindful about these daily burdens.

Evan Brand: I love that you’re more strict with people and you’re not afraid to say it because a lot of people like to try to give a justification. Like, oh, you can have a little bit of a treat or a little bit of this, but it’s like, where does that line end? Because, then, you’re getting glyphosate or you’re getting gluten or – it’s like…

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.

Evan Brand: …you almost shouldn’t go down that rabbit hole because then it just becomes a matter of you trying to justify or feel guilty and then that mental illness part just makes you worse because then you’re beating yourself up and – that can’t be good. 

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Listen – Iam biased because I am an extremist by nature. So, I see the world that way but the truth is, if I reflect back to the patients I’ve worked with – I’d like to believe I reflect back to them their best potential, right? So, I’m not imposing my edicts on them. I’m just showing them what is possible if they put their mind to it. We know from feats of yogic mastery that lots of stuff is possible if you can get your mind out of the way. So, this is part of my premise that every single adult deserves one month – it’s a month of your life – one month of your life where you clear the slate of addictive foods, you clean as much of your local environment as possible, plus/minus more personalized interventions like coffee enemas for example, and you begin to pause on a daily basis; so, I ask my patients to do a specific kind of meditation for 3 minutes a day. You give yourself this month – no supplements, so there’s no supplementation for the first month so you can see what your baseline is. Don’t you deserve that, right? Don’t you deserve to at least know what your baseline is? So that when you reintroduce some of this stuff like, let’s say, you have a cocktail on day 38 and then you can’t sleep the next night and you’re super tired and then you’re craving a cup of coffee, then, at least you know. If you want to drink 4 days a week for the rest of your life, you’re not going to think you have a mental illness, you’re gonna know that it’s just because this is your relationship to the effects of this substance. But, I would argue that, and of course, I know you would agree, that sugar, wheat, and dairy, for example, are also addictive substances; that they also pull and push your judgement and cloud your relationship to yourself in the same way. And so, if you don’t have that month, you’re just going to be chasing your tail for long periods of time and that’s how people become professional patients where they’re just always trying the next thing, trying the next thing, doing another test. I used to complexify things but now that I’ve really gotten clear on this simple one month commitment everything’s become simpler in my practice and my outcomes have reflected it. 

Evan Brand: That’s amazing. I want to just get people up to speed – they heard your bio in the intro of the podcast but you being a holistic women’s health psychiatrist and you’re talking about wheat and sugar, I mean, that’s so unconventional. So, I can just spend an hour just tooting your horn about how amazing that is that you’re talking about this link but I’m sure you’ve got enough of that. So…

Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles)

Evan Brand: …I do want to get more specific – if ever, you’ve now zoomed back out and you’re just focusing on key foundations and you’re getting just as good, if not higher success rates, by just getting these first pillars on board and dialed in. Is that right?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s correct. In fact, in my online program, “Vital Mind Reset”, there’s no labs – there are, I’d recommend them, they’re in my book, whatever but nobody’s really doing before and after labs. And, in some ways, I wonder if it actually accounts for why the results from my online program are more rapid and, frankly, robust than in my clinical practice because maybe, just maybe, the labs that I do upfront with patients are somehow a distraction and an allocation of energy towards what’s wrong. It’s possible. I don’t know. This is all theoretical. But, yeah, I do do upfront bloodwork – nothing too fancy, just at a local lab – there’s no supplementation and otherwise we’re just dedicated to the months. And, most patients are coming to me to come off of psychiatric medications but we don’t even shave off a thousandth of a milligram before the month is over. So, it’s like a “do not pass Go” kind of a thing. You must complete it or you don’t even get a follow-up appointment. So, it’s clear how passionately I feel about it and then, of course, what I’m trying to engender is an experience, right? Because I can talk to patients on the intellectual level about what’s possible and why this is really important for them to take control of their health in this way. But, the truth is if they can have an experience of shifts inside their own body then it’s done! My work is done because that experience is what opens their mind to a totally different way of thinking about health, it’s what allows them to shed fear. In my practice, the expectation is that my patients will never use pharmaceutical products of any kind – not antibiotics, not painkillers, not vaccines, not birth control pills – nothing; that’s the expectation. The expectation is there because the part of my screening process is to establish that we share the same mindset about how the way the body works and the meaning of symptoms, right? That symptoms are not just random and annoying and bad luck, but that symptoms are telling us something we need to better understand and are like breadcrumbs along a path to an important message, right? So, I can’t get them fully on board of they don’t have an experience of their body as resilient with a tremendous potential to heal, which can happen literally in the span of a month.

Evan Brand: That’s amazing. Now, something that’s interesting here is in the writing on your page about your program, you mentioned the word “isolation”. Now, what does that mean to you? Are we talking [about]…

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah.

Evan Brand:  …social isolation – people stuck on their couch, scrolling on Instagram for hours?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles) Pretty much! With the blow-up doll surrogate that is social media – yeah! This is what I was mentioning to you earlier. It’s been a really profound lesson to me because I don’t offer my own patients here in New York City any sort of group support, right? It’s one-on-one, me and them, a little bit of emailing between appointments and that’s pretty much it. But, in my online program, there’s a community [of] several hundred people and it’s very active and it’s really good vibes. Unlike a lot of the communities around psych med injury, or really just chronic health issues, the vibes are really – I don’t know – spiritual I would say. I don’t design it this way but it just is. It’s [a] very loving space and I have witnessed that that is the special sauce, that that is pretty much what takes – Vital Mind Reset is exactly what I do in my practice. It’s exactly the same thing. There shouldn’t be a difference. And, in fact, my outcomes through the program should be worse because I’m not screening those people, right? But, we found [that] it’s quite different. And so, I think it’s the power of community and, in fact, there’s some recent literature that’s actually speaking to the inflammatory nature of social isolation; that, actually, we have embedded psychoneuroimmunologic pathways that help to inform our behavior when we are isolated, that we need group contact, andthat there is every reason for us to prioritize that. But, we don’t live in tribes. We don’t live in community. We live in these modular boxes and we don’t even have families, half of us, anymore or meta networks of support. I just came back from India for a couple of weeks and it was really transformative for me not only because I saw what it is to live really simply but in deep community. The average American doesn’t even know what that looks like or feels like. We’re so far off the path. It’s a problem and it accounts for a lot of what we are calling mental illness which is the very expected response to something being missing.

Evan Brand: That gives me goosebumps, you saying that.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah.

Evan Brand: I was just gonna ask about that because I was reading your article, “Spirituality and Mental Illness”. So, you’re talking about – you kind of raised the question: Is this suppression of spirituality in the West the problem? I believe it totally is. I mean, I’ve had massive spiritual experiences, and that doesn’t have to involve religion. 

Dr. Kelly Brogan: No.

Evan Brand: It can and it may but, for me, I’ve had mind-blowing spiritual breakthroughs without religion being involved.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Totally.

Evan Brand: What was that like? When you say “super simple”, what – compare that to your daily life or someone’s daily life in Manhattan versus what you were experiencing over in India.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah, listen. So, I’m half Italian, right? My mom is from Tuscany and we go back there every other year or so and my heart just explodes every time I’m there. They have a way of living life in Italy that makes us look like uptight robots (chuckles). We’re just like – it’s just so wrong. But, being in India was like that times 10,000…

Evan Brand: No way.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: …because – it was much deeper for me because it is – in Italy, they’re religious for the most part, right? It’s more denominational religion which, of course, in many ways, involve sort of the secular realm, your life as you conduct it, and then the spiritual realm is allocated out it here and you go on Sundays, and it’s like that kind of a thing. It doesn’t permeate the day-to-day life. In India, it was my first experience being in a culture that is, by default, spiritual. Every single person walking the land there – let alone the roots, the tens of thousands of years of embedded mysticism and tradition; it’s just the default way there. For me, it wasn’t something I could – I mean, I tried to write about it but it really isn’t something I can even put into words because it was like a soul level feeling. It was a feeling of what is missing. And, I wouldn’t even have known – had I never gone there, I wouldn’t even have known what was missing. It’s probably like the spiritual experiences you’ve had. Once you have them, you can see what it was like before. You can see what it was like to not have had that experience and you probably think like: Oh my god, I could have gone through my entire life – what if I never had this spiritual experience? I would have been half asleep. So, it’s like a way of coming into contact with a very simple premise of being held by a fabric. We don’t have that here. In America, you can have friends and lovers and whatever else but it’s really every man for himself.

Evan Brand: It is.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s the nature of the American way. It’s a dog eat dog sort of rat race and, even if we consciously try to cultivate our lives differently, that is the energy underpinning our culture and, there is just a cause to that that is so epic that I’m just beginning to reckon with it. But, I think, in real terms, in health terms, it has mostly to do with psychiatry because, I think, we are blaming people – we are blaming their brain chemistry ridiculously for what is deeply wrong with our lifestyle here. In our lifestyle, as you and I know, includes diet, it includes the way we relate to stress, it includes the way we compulsively exercise or never exercise, and it involves toxic exposures, but it also very much involves our relationship to struggle and suffering and grief and sadness so that the bar for medicalizing human struggle is now so lowered that you can barely cry for more than 30 minutes without someone in your life being worried that something is wrong with you. We’re at this point where there’s no room for anything but functioning. That’s a tragedy! We’re in trouble. And, we’re gonna begin to feel the effects of that more and more because, now, 16% of our population is medicated, but that number’s only going up every year.

Evan Brand: Wow. So, yeah, basically you went there, you blasted through a new door of consciousness. That door cannot shut now that you’ve blasted open…

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.

Evan Brand: …that perception.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: You can’t un-know it.

Evan Brand: That is a trip. So, literally, by osmosis you absorbed that vibe, that energy, that was there? Now, did you bring it home?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: It was like a remembering. It’s like a remembering. It’s like, oh, of course! It’s more that feeling. That’s what I say to my patients because some of my patients worry as they’re moving through this awakening process which is strangely in parcel with coming off of these medications, they worry, like – is this permanent? Am I gonna always remain in this expanded place? And, it’s kind of like what you said: once you know, you can’t un-know it. But, we’re so entrained that, of course – I mean, I’ve only been home a couple days and, already, I’m back in my life. You know what I mean? So, that’s why I’m a deep, deep, deep, deep, deep convert when it comes to a daily practice of meditation because I was really, really resistant to committing to meditation. I got the food thing down. I cleaned up all my products; that was no problem. But, the meditation piece really is only like a couple, maybe, 2 years out of 10 for me in the past decade that I’ve really taken it to be a serious commitment. The way that my life has changed and my productivity and all the elements of alignment with your flow has changed in the past 2 years, I completely credit with a daily practice. So, for me and my personality, it’s not optional, it’s like a non-negotiable, but that’s how I hold on to whatever it is that – whatever these pieces are that I collect through my exploration of different kinds of consciousness.

Evan Brand: So, I want to ask you more about India but you mentioned you do a specific type of meditation [and] you recommend the same thing for you patients. What is that? Is that like transcendental? Is it like where you focus on your right hand? Is it where you focus on your nostrils breathing out on your upper lip? What is it?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah. So, I follow the literature on mindfulness-based meditation for a number of years like Benson Institute. They’ve been cataloguing the benefits of meditation down to the genomic level for four decades. I wrote about, I knew all about it, and I just never could translate it into my own personal practice because people who need to meditate, by definition, don’t want to meditate. That’s sort of the deal. That conflict is built in. So, I was addicted to stress. I liked being stressed even though I complain about it and I just never made the time. It seems like, really, for other people to do; like, the other people can meditate. I’ll just write about it. So…

Evan Brand: (chuckles)

Dr. Kelly Brogan: …it wasn’t until I learned about – there were a series of synchronicities [and] I learned about kundalini yoga, which came to America in 1969, this guy Yogi Bhajan brought it from India. Since then, it’s sort of been a bit of a fringe version of yoga but it’s enjoying *quite a… (23:29) right now because people are learning about it and, in many ways, it’s considered to be the branch of yoga that is most focused on consciousness transformation. So, whereas vinyasa is focused, really, on the physical elements, this is really combining every single tool in the yogic arsenal so that you can wake up, and quickly, and so that you can still be in your life. So, you don’t have to go to a cave for a year and fast. You could be in your life but you spend a small amount of time every single morning, ideally before dawn, and you can move through your own awakening process, shedding layers and layers of your ego. It’s very weird. In fact, as a former atheist, I had a lot of alarm bells because – I was like, is this like a cult? Everyone wears white. It’s a lot of weird chanting – it just struck me as so odd when I first started doing it, but it’s not. There’s no pressure. In fact, I’m the biggest zealot you’ll ever meet. Most people who do kundalini are very quiet about it, they don’t say much about it. They certainly don’t coerce anyone to do it, like handing out flyers like a Hare Krishna on the side of the street. I feel so strongly about it because it’s completely changed my life. I started with 3 minutes a day, literally. The meditations are very busy. There would be a hand thing you do and then there’s a special breath pattern you have to do and maybe you’re supposed to imagine you’re looking down on your chin, for example. There’s just a lot of stuff you have to do at once. So, it’s really good for people who have busy brains, right? Because it keeps you occupied and you have an experience in 3 minutes. That’s all that you start with is 3 minutes. And, over and over and over again I get feedback about how amazing it is that you could feel a difference in 3 minutes. This stuff is all free online; you Google “kundalini yoga meditation for digestion”, “…for heartbreak”, “…for cultivating intuition”, “…for self-love”, Google anything and you’ll find one that you can adapt down to 3 minutes. It will say do it for 11 but you just do it for 3, try it out and see how it feels. So, often, I’ll start people on one that’s called “meditation to act not react”, right? Sounds good. We could all use that. It’s a primer, and all I ask them to do is wake up in the morning – because this is what works for me – wake up in the morning, don’t brush your teeth, don’t do anything; sit up in bed and do it right then – 3 minutes, and you’re done! You move on with your day and you’ve already done something awesome for yourself. And, of course, now, I do 45 minutes every morning and it’s a non-negotiable. It’s a totally non-negotiable aspect of my life. So, I don’t care what my patients do. They don’t have to do kundalini yoga. They can pray to a leprechaun for 3 minutes, I don’t care. But, they must, must, must stop and do this once a day for 3 minutes every single day. 3 minutes every – 

Evan Brand: So, you set an alarm?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: I do, although I wake up before it every morning. I used to – I’m such a workaholic – I used to go to bed at, like, 2 in the morning just reading, writing, whatever I felt I needed to do, especially after I had children. I’d put them to bed at 8:30 and I was like, oh my god, my night is starting. So, for me, now, to be – I go to bed with my girls now. When I’m home, I go to bed with them at 9. That’s when I got to bed – 9 o’clock. As a New Yorker, that’s like – I can’t even believe that that’s my life. But, you know what, that’s because I’m committed to a 5:30 wake-up no matter what! So, if I go to bed at 11, it’s gonna hurt all the more for me when I wake-up at 5:30. So, I train myself, now, that I go to bed at 9, and you know what? My productivity is so – it’s incomparable. It makes me feel like I was asleep for the past 8 years, relative to what I can get done today. I’ve heard many people describe this phenomenon that if you just go to bed (laughs), just go to bed, you will get more done in your waking hours; especially if you set the template of your day and your stress response with early morning meditations. So, I’m big into it.

Evan Brand: So, last – well, now, we just had daylight savings time so we sprung forward, but the baby’s been going to bed at, like, 7:30 and, the other night, my wife laid down and I was going to lay down, I looked at the clock and it was 8:04, and I thought, wow! I actually don’t feel bad about this at all.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: (laughs)

Evan Brand: I’m not waking up at 5. I’m waking up at, like, 6:30. So, it makes me wonder, maybe I should set an alarm. So, you have an alarm set for 5:30, then, but you’re saying you wake up before the alarm?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: I always do. And, you know what? That happens to most people who go to bed 8 hours before your alarm is set. You’re going to wake up before it. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It is painful every single morning for me…

Evan Brand: Really?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: …to get out of bed. It’s painful! And so that’s why some people are waiting for it to feel like The Sound of Music or something when they’re waking up in the morning. It’s not gonna be like that. For most people, there’s like 3 to 5 minutes where it just sucks! It just sucks. You move through it and you get on your mat or you sit up in your bed or whatever you need to do and then it will begin to feel really sweet.

Evan Brand: Okay. Perfect.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles) That’s my infomercial on meditating.

Evan Brand: (chuckles) I love it! Thank you so much!

Dr. Kelly Brogan: (laughs)

Evan Brand: You’re the best! Okay. So, now, I got to ask the honest question: How in the hell are you doing reintegrating into Manhattan from India? I mean, I’m – honestly, I’m very thankful and I hope that this is a pleasurable part of your reintegration, is talking with me.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yes!

Evan Brand: For you to do that and then to come back to Manhattan – I don’t know how you’re doing it. So, what is that like and then what are you gonna be doing over the next couple of weeks do you think or what you intend to pull from that experience and say, okay, I’ve got to apply this to the American world. Like you’ve got this lens now [and] you’re gonna put this filter over Manhattan life – what is that filter? What is that going to consist of?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah. I appreciate that question. It’s funny because I felt – I mean, listen – and I have friends in the yoga community who go to India for months so I can only imagine – I mean, I was just there for two weeks. So, it certainly wasn’t as challenging as it could be to reintegrate but it was funny because I felt really ready to come home on some level, and then I landed at JFK and, literally, tears started running down my face. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t even know why I was crying! I mean, I love my life! I have no reason to feel bad for my – I have the best job in the world. I don’t have Sunday dread, okay. So, it was very strange that this was happening. And then, the following two days I would just cry for no reason and it was funny because I had a patient from New Delhi and she came in and I was like, oh my god, I just came back from India! And I started crying and I was talking about how beautiful it is, and she was looking at me like I’m really certifiable. She, being from there, I don’t think she could see what I could.

Evan Brand: Exactly.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: There’s this famous quote from the Dalai Lama that talks about how the Western woman will save the world – “woman” being a very general term. And so, my sense coming back was like, yes, Westerners – maybe, particularly women, I don’t know – going over and spreading their energy around the world to pick up these lost, sort of indigenous flavors and ancestral, traditional wisdom – for us, it has such a power because of the infrastructure and bedrock of our consciousness being so skewed in masculine energy that maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe, for me, as a Westerner to be exposed so that I can I see it and feel it in a way that someone from there is hard to even appreciate. So, my agenda and my mission is to basically reclaim the human experience from the grip of the pharmaceutical industry. This is a very elaborate web to untangle because our authority structures, our FDA, our government, and the many, many people who have bought into the notion that we are protected by these agencies who look after our well-being are colluding in a story that basically says that the human experience is rife with potential dangers, that people are sick and chronically so, that to abandon Western medicine is dangerous. So, the fear is so pervasive that the only chance I have in my activism and my mission is to cultivate experiences of soul contact, right? So, the more you have – people have the experiences you’re describing where you have contact with your own soul, where you have contact of being a part of something bigger, where you experience deep grief and then, an hour later, a kind of joy that wasn’t available to you before you experienced that grief, the more we hold space for these kinds of micro self-initiation experiences, the more a knowing is going to bubble into the surface that what we are doing is wrong and it’s not working and it is leading us down a blind path with promise, after promise, after promise, that these promises are not being fulfilled, that taking the edge off is a worthwhile consideration. Depression is very dangerous or – well, obviously, when someone’s bipolar they need medication. These are all the means that I have tried to deconstruct because the kinds of experiences that my patients, and personally, write about and talk about – I’ve started to do video interviews to prove to everyone what I’m talking about with patients and program clients. It’s so much more incredible than anything that’s available to you through the Western model. It’s like of an epic kind of beauty that’s happening at this accelerated rate right now in human history. We have so much access to awakening right now, maybe because we have so much information and the tools can go right into people’s hands. They don’t need a doctor. I’m a totally unnecessary part of this puzzle. So, it’s a really cool time we’re in and I hope to just – I don’t know what’s next but I hope to just continue everyday, to recommit to creating a more beautiful experience for all of us.

Evan Brand: Well, I think you’re totally necessary because you have to pass the torch and be the light in so much sea of darkness. Even if that’s your role, I think you’re very important for that role because it is a dark place, typically, when we’re talking about mental illness and, typically, there is so much fear. So, for you – if I can put words into your mouth and you tell me if that’s right or not – to overwhelm the fear, you’ve got to have, whether it’s spirituality, but you’ve got to have something that’s going to fill up the soul which can then overpower the fear.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.

Evan Brand: That’s it.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s beautiful and exactly it. I learned that totally in a backwards way because I came from a place of scientism, right? It’s a term for what I – that was my religion. I really believed that science was everything and if science didn’t have the answer then it didn’t exist. So, as a belligerent atheist – so, all of this – I mean, my transformation is so 180 that it helps me to have empathy for people who are not there yet because I’ve been on the other side. But, this side that I get to bask in now everyday, it’s just so liberating to live life without that feeling of: oh god, when am I gonna get cancer? What about Zika virus? And, oh my god, did you hear about – it’s just not the way I live. I’m not afraid of anything. I don’t feel stress. I trust, if shitty things happen, that there is some reason and some important message in it. It’s not easy. It’s not like I float through life on a cloud but I’m grounded by something that just makes everything okay, and that’s all I want – for people to fundamentally reconnect to an “okay-ness”. But, I think you’re right! It needs to come from some sort of an embracing of a gratitude and a lightness and some sort of meaning – suffering ends where meaning begins, as sometimes stated. It’s a tall order but I think it’s more available to us now than, maybe, ever before.

Evan Brand: Agreed. Now, I know we got to wrap this up but can I summarize but saying it sounds like what you’re saying is you’ve got this choice – everyone has a river [and] the river is gonna flow no matter what, so you’ve got the choice whether you’re gonna try to stand there and you’re gonna try to build a dam and you’re gonna put this stick in place and then this wall and then this bigger stick and this bigger dam to hold it back and that damn dam is gonna bust, or you just have to flow downstream and it’s much easier to readjust your coordinates as you’re flowing downstream.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: 100%. I think that water metaphors really work. I often talk to my patients about how when you’re feeling like you’re drowning, you can thrash around and freak out, and you probably will. You’ll probably manifest exactly your worst fear but if – what we all know – if you just float – your body actually has a built-in mechanism, an anti-drowning mechanism – all you do is float. So, it’s a nice construct and it’s a nice idea to talk about going with the flow but it becomes so much easier – the first challenge you meet with that mindset – the first time you get the symptoms of the flu, let’s say, and the first time you commit to seeing that experience through without medication, supporting yourself naturally, even if it lasts three weeks, whatever it is, the very first time you do that – if you get to the other side, not only has your body had a learning experience and an upgrade, so to speak, biologically but your mindset is subtly shifted and it will become easier the next time you want to approach life with that embracing, not fighting, mindset. So, it is practice. It’s a daily commitment. It becomes easier the more experiences you have that affirm this sense that there is a flow, a design, that there is a meaning that we have to reach for; and that extends all across human experience, from health to interpersonal relationships. So, it’s exactly as you said, going with the flow ends up preserving a lot of precious energy.

Evan Brand: It’s corny and cliché, and a lot of people hate clichés but they’re there for a reason – they work.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s true! It’s true.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: You make me think of my wife when she gave birth to our daughter naturally and she didn’t think she was gonna be able to do it because she said her pain tolerance was so low, and then after it was all over she said, “I’m so glad I did that because now I know what I’m capable of.”

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yes!

Evan Brand: “I’m much more powerful than I thought I was.” I’m like, holy crap…

Dr. Kelly Brogan: You see! Oh, that’s like my anthem! (chuckles) Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s all I have to say about that. Exactly, exactly!

Evan Brand: Well, we got to wrap this thing up. I’m sure we could chat for much longer but…

Dr. Kelly Brogan:  I – (laughs) exactly.

Evan Brand: …we both got to roll. So, we’ll send people back to your website KellyBroganMD.com and then is there any other things or places or words that people should know about before I let you go?

Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s – I mean, that’s it. I try – I have a newsletter. I try to keep people sort of updated on whatever I [have] on top of my mind and also to share these stories so that people know, like your wife said, what’s possible. I’m really into creating this space for that template and so, yeah, that’s all on my website.

Evan Brand: Well, thank you so much. I look forward to chatting with you again. We’ll have to do this again sometime this year.

Dr. Kelly Brogan: Absolutely! Total pleasure, Evan, total pleasure.