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Episode 21 — The Empirically Supported Benefits of Mindfulness

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About this episode

What would mindfulness have to do with being a scientist? What would it have to do with a scientist being productive, successful and dare we say: happy? Join us on this episode where we will discuss what neuroscientists, Ph.D’s and prominent thinkers have found is true about the state of mind you bring to the lab, and how to support a state of mind that offers the most effective and creative approaches to your work and career.

Hosted by Bitesize Bio’s own Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

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This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro (00:10):

This is The Happy Scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at bite-size bio.com/happy scientist. Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching firm, Vera Claritas, and Dr. Nick Oswald PhD, bio scientist and founder of Bitesize Bio.

Nick Oswald  (00:41):

Hello and welcome to the happy scientist podcast from bite-size bio. If you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist, you are in the right place. I’m Nick Oswald the founder of Bitesizebio.com. And with me, the main man of this podcast is Kenneth Vogt. I have worked with Ken for over seven years now with him as my business mentor and colleague, and I knew that his expertise could help a lot of researchers including you. So in these sessions, we will hear mostly from Ken and principles that will help shape you for a happier and a more successful career. And along the way, I’ll pitch in with points from my personal experience as a scientist, and from working with Ken today, we will be talking about the empirically supported benefits of mindfulness, but before we begin, remember that in episodes, one to nine of us podcast, we talk about the foundational principles of human needs, core mindsets, and charisma factors, which we refer to in all future episodes. So if you find this episode useful, please go back to the beginning and listen to episode one to nine, to get an understanding of these life-changing concepts. So let’s bring in the man himself, Kenneth mindfulness, tell us about it.

Kenneth Vogt (01:50):

Okay. This may seem like the topic that, where I’ve, where I’ve finally gone off the edge. It’s like, all right, he’s, he’s danced around being being scientific about things but this time. He’s picked a picked a habit that is just too far out there. It’s just too woo. But I I’m going to I’m gonna prove you through the show notes among other things that it’s really not that far out there. And in fact, where came to mind for me, didn’t come from any, any other sources other than PhD scientists. And that, and, and again, the show notes are gonna prove that I, I make note of six different studies. I point to two different podcasts. I point to a couple of different books. And these are all by people who are deeply in the black and white rational world. This is, this is what it’s all about. And

Nick Oswald (02:55): So, so mindfulness gets a lot of woowoo attention, but isn’t as really just means paying attention more. Yeah,

Kenneth Vogt (03:03):

It does. It’s just, yeah. Seeing exactly. And in fact, the thing that, that first captured my attention about this for, for this audience even was I was listening to a podcast called Science Friday, which is hosted by Ira Flatow. And he had commented on mindfulness being a proven, a proven methodology to help you be more effective on more than one occasion. And I just, I just kept going back to this. It’s like, boy, this is not the guy I would expect to be talking about this. But then I started doing some more research on it. And you know, the Harvard Review was all over this and a variety of other serious academic sources. And so I just picked out, I, I picked out a number of interesting studies that I’ve commented on in the notes here, but they are hardly the only ones. And there’s, there’s so many benefits here to being mindful that, that you’re just going to see that it’s just worth it for you in your career, in your job, to be happier, to be more content with your work.

Kenneth Vogt (04:23):

Now, another thing that may put some people off here is mindfulness can be a code word for meditation, and you might say, Oh, meditation, Oh, here we go. This he’s finally stepped over the line here. This is going to become all spiritual and religious and esoteric and philosophical. It’s like, no, it’s really not. And in fact, one of the, one of the people that I recommend that you look into and the podcast by this person is Sam Harris is making sense podcast. He is a PhD neuroscientist. He is probably one of the premier atheists of the day. U you know, he’s, he’s very much a proponent of atheism. And I want to be clear here. I’m not telling anybody to be atheist. I’m not telling anybody to be religious. I’m not telling anybody to be spiritual. You don’t have to be a Christian or a Buddhist or Hindu or anything else to use mindfulness.

Kenneth Vogt (05:26):

In fact, that’s kind of the point that Sam Harris makes that, that it isn’t coming from those places. It’s just, some of those places happened to also use it. But you know, let’s not, let’s stop be down on something because it is being used by, by someone that we don’t agree with. You know, everybody still drinks, water, everybody still breathes air. You know, even, even those that you don’t agree with on, on a fundamental level that you know, whether it’s politics or religion or, or, you know, what flavor dessert to have, these are just fundamental things and they don’t come from those places. They are just used by those places because they work, you know, it’s, it’s just the same way as, you know, you can get a, you can get a bachelor of science degree or you can get a bachelor of arts degree and they use the same basic format.

Kenneth Vogt (06:21):

You go to, you go to university, you go to classes, you have professors, there are textbooks there. You know, it’s, it’s all the same stuff. It’s just, it’s just something you can use that works. So a question would be, well, why, what I care about mindfulness? I mean, okay, fine. It’s, it’s not harmful. It’s not associated with anything evil that I don’t want to touch, but why would I want to, right?. Well, there are four things that, that popped up in my research on this that I think that you’re going to want. One is improved attention. Now, there, there are a number of studies that show that mindfulness improves attention, and that means better performance on objective tasks that, that require an extensive concentration span. Does that sound familiar? Does that sound like your life, your work well, wouldn’t improved attention, be valuable to you. Wouldn’t it be useful? Wouldn’t it make your job less stressful?

Nick Oswald (07:24):

So maybe it would be worth taking a side step and explaining what mindfulness is then , because to me, the main thing that comes to mind about mindfulness is just about paying more attention to things. But yeah, it’s about ? Just one of the benefits, there must be more to it than that.

Kenneth Vogt (07:42):

Yeah. There is. There is, but yeah, it’s about being present in the moment and that is being, being present with what’s happening right now. What’s right here. And not being caught up in the past or caught up in the future or on caught up on other topics that aren’t related to what you’re presently focusing on. It’s about just being purely with what’s happening right now,

Nick Oswald (08:08):

Rather than all the stories your brain is telling you about forgetting to get something for dinner or what might, what happened yesterday and stuff like that.

Kenneth Vogt (08:17):

Exactly. And worry, and anxiety and, and, you know, and, and not just negative things like that, but cause even positive things can get in your way. You know, if you’re excited about some, some event that’s coming up in the future or, or you’re really looking forward to your, to an upcoming vacation, it can take your mind away from what you’re working on now and can do damage. You will, you can, you become less effective and you miss things that are important when they might be bad things that you miss or might be good things that you miss. You know, so there’s, there’s a lot to be said for being present and just, just in the this moment saying, okay, for right now, I’m about this and I’m not going to worry about my kids right now. And I’m not going to be thinking about my weight and I’m not going to be concerned about my love life. And I’m not going to be thinking about the jerk that I have for a boss. I’m just doing this task right now and I’m with it. And I’m, I’m giving my all to it. And again, this is just about giving a hundred percent, not 110%, you know, just being fully present, but no more than fully present.

Kenneth Vogt (09:29):

So improved attention is just one of the benefits. Let’s, let’s look at some others. How about emotional regulation? Mindfulness is, is associated with emotional regulation across a number of studies. So it, it creates changes in your brain, actual physical changes that correspond to less reactivity and better ability to engage in tasks even when emotions are activated. Now you think, well, why would that matter? Well, think about it. If you’re working with other people, is there not an emotional component? If you are stressed about the work that you’re doing right now, is there not an emotional component? If something goes wrong with what you’re working on, is there not an emotional component? You know, we have to remember that we are present with what’s happening. You know, we’re part of the experiment. And, and if, if emotions get involved to a certain degree, you know, if they get over-involved, it starts to get in the way and it starts to become a problem.

Kenneth Vogt (10:38):

It could actually impact the results you get, but you know, even less than that it impacts the experience that you’re having with doing it, making your job harder, making your career more stressful and, and making you wonder, why am I doing this for a living? You know, I, I could I could have been working at McDonald’s, you know, and so this idea of, of being able to more easily regulate your emotions becomes important. Now, some of you out there might be really locked down on this really feel like, you know, emotional control is not a big deal for me, but others of you are going to hear this and go, yeah, I know what you mean. It might be, you get too passionate about things or you get too angry about things or you, you get too frustrated too easily that you can think about it.

Kenneth Vogt (11:30):

Cause it, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a negative emotion. It could be a positive emotion. You could get too excited about things too. And it costs you to lose track of what’s right in front of you and you miss things and you don’t see flaws when they pop up that you really need to see, or, or errors. You don’t see problems until after they’re too late to fix. So this concept of emotional regulation becomes really important. So let me throw that one to you, Nick, have you seen emotion ever be an issue in the lab?

Nick Oswald (12:01):

Well, I mean, it’s the same as anything, you know, if you’re, if you’re something’s going on in your personal life and you have a task, you need to focus on you know, either physical tasks or a map task and you, and you’re too busy thinking about what’s going on in your, in your, on your your personal life to give it that focus, then that’s going to impact the quality of work you do. Sure.

Kenneth Vogt (12:29):

And it can even be things that, that are external. It could be the people that you’re working with right now are causing an emotional response and that impacts the work. So, you know,

Nick Oswald (12:40):

I mean the bottom line is your brain is always trying to, your mind always seems to always be trying to pul yourself, to pull you to some problem that you need to focus on at the moment to, you know, to worry about or to, or to go over and over in your head. And, all of that’s taken away from the focus of the thing that you need to, you know, the experiment you need to focus on or the paper you need to focus on or whatever. I mean, another good one is if you’re, you know, the one thing that I really find this useful for is if you’re giving a presentation and if you’re really nervous and you’re focusing on what might go wrong, that’s all a story is it’s spinning around in your head. And that literally makes it more likely you’ll, you know, worrying about doing badly in the presentation will literally make you do badly in the presentation,

Kenneth Vogt (13:32):

Right? Exactly. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and, and we all know people and perhaps we know them intimately as ourselves who whenever they encounter an uncertain situation, their response is what’s wrong. What’s wrong, what a way to look at the world. But that’s part of emotional regulation. So the next thing that’s interesting that comes out of some of these studies is the idea that mindfulness will allow you to have greater compassion. So people randomly assigned to mindfulness training are more likely to help someone in need and to have greater self-compassion and you might think, well, what does compassionate have to do with my work? Actually, it has quite a bit to do with your work. Often the work that we’re doing there that, that you are doing as scientists in the lab is contributing to the improvement of mankind. So in that regard, it is a deeply compassionate work, but there’s also compassion that has to do with the people you’re working with.

Kenneth Vogt (14:45):

If you’re working with people and they’re all stressed out all the time, or they’re all wore out your interaction with them is going to be impacted by how mindful you are. And you could actually be a great support to other people. And that might be people that you work with might be a little work for you. It might be people that you work for, but having greater compassion will actually make you a better worker and will make you somebody that other people will, will enjoy working with. Then on top of that is the notion of self-compassion that, you know, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself. You, you, you can see things more clearly and realize, you know, this is, this is what I can do, and this is what I can’t do. And you get clear on what the boundaries are, and it’s easier. It’s much easier to be satisfied when that’s, how you see the world. So I hesitate for other comment there, Nick, in case you wanted to add anything.

Nick Oswald (15:46):

So you went through the through all of the the benefits because, okay,

Kenneth Vogt (15:51):

Well, let me hit the last one then, and then I will throw you the mic of the last one. And this one’s one everybody’s going to want reduction of stress and anxiety, mindfulness reduces feelings of stress and improves you know, anxiety control and helps you get rid of distress when you’re placed in a stressful situation. And the fact is there’s lots of potential stressful situations in the lab. So wouldn’t, you want to get free of stress and anxiety? Well, mindfulness is part of the answer to that, so, okay, go ahead.

Nick Oswald (16:26):

Oh, okay. So, so my thoughts are mindfulness is always something that’s kind of, it’s so cliched in a way that something’s always kind of I find it hard to gel with the idea of this. So, so what we’re saying here is if you’re, so mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment rather than, or what is happening right now in front of you, rather than what you imagined happened in the past or in the future and what you remember happening in the past, or what you imagine happening in the future. And from that you get improved attention, improved emotional regulation, greater compassion and reduction of stress and anxiety. Why do you get all of that?

Kenneth Vogt (17:11):

Well, I, I, I might want to push you to look at all these studies that are cited for this, but there, there’s a, there’s a number of, of reasons why that, that, and I think we’ve, we’ve kind of hit on a few of them when we are not focused on the present. When we are spending mental cycles on the past or on the future, then we are reducing our ability to do the task in front of us. And we are wearing ourselves out. We are burnt, we’re burning energy, both of, you know, physical energy and energy. Okay. So

Nick Oswald (17:50):

That’s easy to hang on to for me then that you can, you, you know, you treat it like, you’re, you realize that your, your mind is kind of like like a computer and you’re using, if you’re using lots of rambling and processes in the background about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, then you’re, you’re not leaving enough bandwidth. That’s not the correct term, but you know what I mean? You’re not leaving enough bandwidth to to give your all to the thing that’s happening in front of you, whether that’s a task. So that would be an improved intention in privity attention, whether it’s a person, that’d be great compassion, I guess, emotional regulation. You’re not getting pulled into these. What might happen, stories you’re focusing on what’s right in front of you. Okay. That makes sense. So it’s that kind of computer analogy. Yeah. This is about focusing all of your Ram and what’s right in front of you,

Kenneth Vogt (18:49):

Right? So basically you’re, you’re reducing drains on yourself. And the drain might be physical, as I said it could be emotional. It could be mental. There, there, there are situations where you don’t need much physical, active, physical energy. And so it’s fine. You don’t worry about it, but that moment you really might need to have intellectual energy. You really need, might need to focus your mind. And now any dream there’s going to cost you and other areas to be like, I, you know, I’ve got an emotional drain here and it’s costing me. And sometimes you might think, well, Hey, this isn’t a hard task physically. So who cares if I’m drained physically, but it’s it, these things don’t compartmentalize perfectly. So a physical drain will take an emotional and a mental toll on you. And a mental drain will take a physical and, and emotional toll on you. And you know that across the board and, you know, that’s easy enough to see we’ve all had that happen where, you know, we, we worked out so hard at the gym. We can’t think straight, or we had a very emotional interaction with something and it drained us physically, or we do something very demanding mentally. And therefore we had a very short fuse emotionally, you know, so we know these things cross over.

Nick Oswald (20:09):

And if you, if you look at a situation where you’ve had an intense period of stress, for example, where the stress comes from? Not, not focusing on what’s happening in front of it’s focusing on what you need to do next, or what might happen if you don’t do this. And so on then that, you know, say you’re writing your thesis, for example, as an extremely stressful period for a lot of people, it’s emotionally stressful. So that becomes really physically draining, even though you’re only moving your fingers to type,

Kenneth Vogt (20:41):

Right. So if you were looking at this at the beginning and saying, it doesn’t seem like it’s that big a deal me to be mindful because I, you know, that’s not a big problem for me. You know, I focused my mind really well. Yes, but it’s, these it’s touches these other areas and these other areas touch it. So the idea here shouldn’t be that, you know, you’re so mentally tough that you can take all the abuse of being emotionally or physically not present. Well, you know, don’t put yourself in that position, the idea here isn’t to survive your, your job and your career, the idea is to thrive in it and to enjoy it.

Nick Oswald (21:23):

And by the way, you’ll do a better job if you do that, if you, if you thrive and enjoy it.

Kenneth Vogt (21:27):

Exactly. And, and you know that you don’t have to sign up for something where, well, I’m, I’m just gonna keep burning the candle at both ends until till I drop, or hopefully I’ll, I’ll make it to the end, to the, you know, to the end, end of the line, before I drop that, you know, we’re not running this death March here, this isn’t, this isn’t a race to, to, to be denial. Self-Annihilation this, this should be something where it’s an upward spiral for you, where your life gets better and better. And, and that is certainly possible. And mindfulness will help you with that.

Nick Oswald (22:07):

Nice. Yeah. I mean, it’s all about, it’s all about you. Once you start thinking about your brain as, as an instrument that you can, that you focus on you know, you focus on a problem that’s in front of you or or a task that’s in front of you. Then it’s, for me, it’s much easier to see that that wasting CPU cycles or whatever you want to call it on, on paying attention to something that’s not actually happening right now is as damaging in the long and the short term, but especially in the long-term

Kenneth Vogt (22:44):

Right. And, and I’ll make a comparison to something and I’m even gonna make up a word for it right now, but it’s a concept. I think we’re all familiar with. How about in addition to mindfulness, bodyfullness, we all realize that if I keep this body healthy and in shape, well, then every other part of my life gets better. Every part of their part of my life is easier. Well, it’s the same thing. And if you bother to go to the gym, you bother to get up when it’s still dark and go out and run, it is every bit as worthwhile to do the same thing for your mind that you regularly do for your body now.

Kenneth Vogt (23:29):

Okay. So we’ll, we’ll, we’ll look at that because here here’s the thing. One of the, the books that I recommended below are by a very fascinating author called Yuval Noah Harari. And Yuval Noah Harari is a PhD historian, but his writing is more like modern day anthropology. And he’s just just a brilliant guy that has really great insight into what’s happening in the world today. And I realized that it might be a little different topic than you’re used to reading about, but he really, really understands people. And and, and as I say from more for my answer for a logical standpoint than a psychological standpoint, and, and I I’ve the link points to all of his books that he doesn’t, he’s not written a bad book and he’s got a great voice, but here’s the thing,

Nick Oswald (24:25):

Tell people who are wondering, by the way, you can get this the links to the books that Ken’s referring to, by going to a Bitesizebio.com/the happy scientist finding this episode, which is episode 21, and then downloading the show notes that are linked to from that page.

Kenneth Vogt (24:45):

Right? No worries. So I know you all have a lot of reading that you’re supposed to do, but this is part of your fun reading, the stuff you, that the stuff you’re that you would read, just because it’s interesting. And you know, you don’t have to it’s it’s, but it’s worthwhile. And the reason I point to this particular author is not just because he is, you know, a highly educated man. It is because he is a hardcore meditator. He meditates himself an hour every morning and an hour every evening, he’s really, really deep into this. Yeah, this, this guy guy’s a marathon, or when it comes to mindfulness, now I am, now I know you hear that and go, well, that lets me out. You know, I’m not going to do that. And I’m not recommending that. And in fact, he’s not even recommending that in his books.

Kenneth Vogt (25:41):

He doesn’t really talk about that. I only know that because of interviews with him. But you know, and again, another, another person I think, yeah, I have to pay attention to is Sam Harris with making sense. And he too, even though he is a neuroscientist even though he is an avowed atheist, he is, he is a very accomplished meditator. And I mean to the point where he’s done retreats to, to India and, you know, he’s, he’s done a lot of things and he has studied it from the standpoint of of, you know, neurophysiology, what is happening when you meditate. We’re not going to go into all that right now. But what I am going to do is show you a way that’s simple because you don’t, you don’t have to become, you don’t have to go to a Buddhist temple. You don’t have to become a Hindu.

Kenneth Vogt (26:31):

You don’t even have to do any of this stuff to be mindful and to take yourself simply to a mindful place. So I’m going to show you a three minute meditation routine and we’re actually going to do it right now. Yeah. It’s not, cause it’s not hard. And it’s something that you, that anyone can do. And it’s the kind of thing that it is worthwhile for you to do if you do it every day. And it isn’t, it’s a great practice. You can do it multiple times a day. You can do it for longer than three minutes too, if you’re feeling it, you know, and it, and it’s, you could feel the benefits coming to you. It really can help you order your world. If you feel chaotic, if you feel stressed, if you feel like there’s too much uncertainty, this is a very very grounding activity. And there’s nothing special about this. You don’t have to learn any mantras or mudra. There’s this, there’s nothing Hocus Pocus about this. It is merely taking your mind and telling it to calm down.

Nick Oswald (27:39):

Yeah. So that’s the purpose here is just a calm it’s like giving your body a stretch, yoga stretch that, you know, telling it to kind of resetting it. Okay, exactly. But there’s a reason to do it. So let’s do it.

Kenneth Vogt (27:53):

Yeah. Well, and, one more thing. I want to say that in the setup for this is one of the things you’ve probably heard about meditation is the objective is to empty your mind. And I think for most of us, we go, Oh, you’re telling me I’m supposed to stop having thoughts. Well, that’s not going to happen. You know, and it’s true. It won’t happen. You can’t turn off thoughts. And it’s, it’s very interesting to take note of that and be aware that, you know, thoughts just kind of happen and you don’t, you don’t almost ever create a thought on purpose, thoughts wander on by they, they just, they just present themselves to you. And then you make a choice whether or not I’m going to keep this thought, take ownership of this thought or let it pass by. Cause we’ve probably all had thoughts where we went, Oh no, I’m not, no, I’m not going there.

Kenneth Vogt (28:52):

You know that that’s happening. Maybe it’s a dark thought or maybe it’s a frightening thought. Like, no, I’m not. I refuse to be, you know, I refuse to be that afraid, you know, and we just discard it and then other ones come by and we go, Oh yeah, that might happen. That could be real. And, and we, we take it in and sometimes they’re negative. Sometimes they’re positive. Sometimes they’re neutral. Sometimes you can’t tell whether they’re positive or negative and for whatever reason you embrace them. But what we’re going to do now in this, this three minute meditation is we’re going to take a break from thoughts. Now that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have them. It just means that whatever thoughts come by in this little exercise, you’re just going to thank them and send them on their way. That’s it. So when thought arrives, thank you for sharing and let it just let it keep on going.

Kenneth Vogt (29:47):

Don’t take ownership of any thought that comes your way. Now. Some of you are probably panicking right now. What if i have a really great thought? I promise you it’ll show up again. So don’t worry about it. And there’s nothing that’s going to happen in these three minutes. That’s going to be critical to your life, where if you miss this, this window, it’s all over for you. That’s not going to happen. And that kind of thinking is why you’re having a hard time staying mindful because you keep thinking that every thought that comes by your way is coming with with you know, clanging bell or a warning signal. And you gotta realize these things are just happening. So if you could watch them, just watch them float on by and not take ownership of them and not examine them. Just, it’s just, it’s like looking out a car window and without fixing your, your set, anything, just watching this stuff go by.

Kenneth Vogt (30:43):

And so there’s the telephone poles and the trees and the people walking on the sidewalk and the person walking their dog and the car at the stoplight there just to go by. They’re just there that they don’t have any meaning. They don’t matter. And the known they’re impacting you. They’re not getting no, none of it’s jumping in front of your car as you’re going by. It’s just, it’s just there on the side of the road. And, and you’re not even driving. You’re just the passenger in this car. So you still get to watch the scenery, but you don’t have to make a bunch of meaning out of it. Does that make sense?

Nick Oswald (31:15):

Yeah. So in terms of the analogy that I was using earlier, you know, your brain, this kind of an instrument. So these are thoughts are, are not, are being suggested by your brain and you get to choose whether you assimilate them or let them just go by. Okay?

Kenneth Vogt (31:38):

Okay. So what I’d like everybody to do, and no, for those of you that are driving right now or doing something where you can’t do this, it’s fine. Don’t do this right now, but come back and do it later. And I’m going to do a guided meditation for you here. So you don’t have to do anything. All you can do is sit there. So just get, get in a comfortable seat. And, and you know, if there’s anything that’s bothering you, you know, if you, if you need to take off your shoes or, you know, you need to take off your glasses or whatever you need to do, do that, get yourself prepared and just get comfortable. And now what we’re going to do is we’re going to give you something to focus on other than your thoughts. And that simple thing is something that everybody’s going to be doing anyway during this. And that is your breath. All we’re going to do is focus on your breath. So close your eyes and take a deep breath and then exhale it fully out. Feel what that breath is like.

Kenneth Vogt (32:45):

Then taking another deep breath, feel that going in, and then let it go out fully, let it out. So now you know what breath feels like. Now you have something that can take your attention. And so you can just keep breathing, breathe in, breathe out and focus on your breathing. Feel the breathing every day you breathe all day long and you don’t notice it at all. Now you’re going to notice it now in between the time that you take in a breath and you let out a breath or the time that you let out a breath and you take in a breath. There’s another little moment there. Notice that moment, that moment in between. There’s nothing there. It’s just empty. It’s not incomplete. It’s just there.

Kenneth Vogt (33:56):

Keep noticing your breathing. Keep noticing the space in between the breathing. Sometimes in that space, you’ll notice the thought go by. Let that happen. You’re not repressing that thought. You’re just not giving it any heat at this moment. Just right now, you’re just sitting briefly meditating. There’s nothing else that you have to do right now. Nothing is so pressing that has to have your attention at this moment. So when a thought comes by, if you have a reaction to that thought, you feel an emotion about that. Well, that emotion is just another thought. It’s a thought you’re having in your body rather than in your mind and fine. Let that go by and see if you can’t just be free of thoughts for a moment.

Kenneth Vogt (35:04):

Can’t you just let it go. Not think from wow. And if another thought should arise, just we should wish it well and send it on its way. Thank you for sharing. Notice your breathing, breathing in, breathing out. Notice the space between breathing in and breathing out. You will notice that you are getting calmer and clearer. Sometimes a thought will come by more than once, just like an insistent child. And once again, just tell it, thank you for sharing and let it go on its way. Notice your breath, go in, go out, notice the space in between the breath and notice those silences, those emptinesses and notice how pure they feel and how good they feel and know that they’re opening up a space for you to do great things.

Kenneth Vogt (36:49):

And that concludes our meditation. Now, some of you right now are going, Oh man, could we keep going? Absolutely you could. And, and you will find that if you, if you make this a regular part of, of your day, you know, at the start of your day, especially is a good time to do it, or the end of your day is a good time to do it. You may be surprised that the three minutes that you set aside becomes 20 or 30, because you didn’t want to stop. And after you’re done, you know, don’t, you feel a little more free. Don’t you feel a little bit less stressed. So I’ll put that to you, Nick, how was the experience for you?

Nick Oswald (37:29):

Well, it’s interesting how much is going on in there? It’s pretty chaotic for me anyway. Well, that’s good to know. Isn’t it certainly shows how many CPU’s I’m using up. Yeah. In the background.

Kenneth Vogt (37:45):

Yeah. I think sometimes when we do this and we realize, Holy cow, I can’t, I can’t meditate for, for, for 180 seconds. What’s going on? My poor brain is just, it’s on fire, you know? Well, knowing that is a very useful understanding. You, you, you get an insight into yourself and then you start to realize, you know, what, if I did this, if I, if I did this, I bet I get better at it. Cause then this is like anything, it’s just a practice. It you’re going to get better at it. You, you can become a master at this. It’s not that hard.

Nick Oswald (38:20):

And so that is the idea that by practicing allowing your brain, the space to slow down that then it will slow down a bit, you know, so that,

Kenneth Vogt (38:30):

Yeah. As a result, you’ll have improved attention. You’ll have better emotional regulation. You’ll be more compassionate and you’ll reduce your stress and anxiety. Now, if those things aren’t appealing to you, I fear for your future. Everybody wants that stuff.

Nick Oswald (38:47):

Quite a good deal for three minutes a day.

Kenneth Vogt (38:50):

Exactly. Exactly. And it feels good. It’s a relief. If you have been spending any, you know, any part of, of your, your day feeling like you just need some relief, you just need a break. This is it. This is a way to get it. And it’s something, you know, you can do in a lunch break. It’s something you can do sitting in your car. It’s something you can do in the restroom that nobody else has to know about. Nobody, nobody will even know you’re doing it. So you don’t have to worry about prying eyes. Like what is he up to now? You know, you can step into the next room and be done and no one will realise.

Nick Oswald (39:27):

For me it always goes back to the I think I mentioned this in a previous episode, but the idea of that during my PhD, I went to a yoga class, the person said stop. The instructor said, okay, just think about nothing. And my brain said, what do you mean? I can’t stop thinking about nothing. I have responsibility. I’ve a project I’ve got problems to solve. And then I realized, what am I doing? Yeah. I don’t need to do this all of the time. In fact, it’s probably not a good idea to do this all the time. So just relax.

Kenneth Vogt (40:00):

Exactly. In fact, if you want to be better at doing it, when you’re doing it, you need these times of refreshment. So that you’re at your best. When those times arise,

Nick Oswald (40:10):

It’s like an, it’s like an athlete thinking that they have to run all the time to get fitter. You don’t need to rest as well. And I, and, and it’s crazy how much we just neglect our, our minds by expecting them to be on all the time and allowed to run these processes in the background all the time, because that’s just inbuilt in us. Yeah. I guess this is about just starting to move towards being able to have, if not an off switch than a volume switch, on those background processes.

Kenneth Vogt (40:43):

Yep. And this is a hands-on nuts and bolts thing you can do without any special training without, you know, any special talent. Anyone can do this, even you, so please do. So I think I’ll wrap it up for now Nick.

Nick Oswald (41:02):

Okay. Thank you. That was very useful. So the good thing about that little meditation is that maybe what we’ll do actually is we’ll make a link in the show notes to just the meditation, because the good thing about that is if you want to go back and do a three minute meditation every day, you can just listen to that audio. Yeah. That’s great. And you’ll be famous Ken, over and over, but yeah. Okay. So in the show notes, there’s, this is, this is a good episode to download the show notes for again go to bitesizebio.com/thehappyscientist. Find the episode 21, download the PDF with the show notes on them. There are a bunch of how many, five or six different studies that talk about the benefits of mindfulness experiments on the, on, on that. There are a couple of podcasts that that can talk to about and and the author with some great material there that you can, you can digest if you find this easy.

Nick Oswald (42:02):

And then of course, we’ll add the link to the three minute meditation. So you can do it again to find that again, say the podcast. All right. Sounds great. And of course, if you don’t want to listen to Ken again, for any reason, there are plenty of other ways to just set aside three minutes, just silence or a little bit of music or, or whatever you want to to go with for the meditation. Exactly. So only that only remains for me mention The Happy Scientist Club Facebook page, that’s facebook.com/thehappyscientistclub in there. We will be talking about various the various concepts we look at in this podcast. We will be looking at them from different angles so that you can get even more out of it hopefully and use them to propell yourself, to greater happiness and success. So thank you again, Ken, for a great episode and a really useful tool. I think we both get a lot of benefit from great. Thanks Nick. We’ll see you all in the next episode. Goodbye

Outro (43:16):

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