A few months ago, he published The Now Effect, (our book of the month here for April) and I had the pleasure of interviewing him about it.
Therese: What is The Now Effect?
Elisha: The Now Effect is that “aha” moment of clarity and choice that we’ve all experienced. It’s the moment you notice your mind running around the same old bad neighborhoods and come in touch with the choice to refocus on what matters. It’s the moment you’re on your smartphone and your kids are clamoring around you and you realize they are what matter in the moment. It’s the moment a friend of a friend passes away and you reconnect to the ones you love.
Unfortunately, these moments are becoming rarer than ever as our lives are speeding up and life itself is becoming routine.
I wrote The Now Effect to help us train our brains to naturally pop into spaces of clarity and choice. In these spaces we can apply mindfulness, the act of intentionally paying attention to the present moment while putting aside our programmed biases. We can space from our automatic negative thoughts, prime our minds for good and feel more connected which is the greatest anti-depressant.
Therese: Speaking of that, how would this work for people who have struggled with depression?
Elisha: For years now, we’ve been finding the benefits of applying mindfulness in our lives as a means to prevent relapse into depression. Neuroscience has even found that people who practice mindfulness in their lives actually use a completely different part of their brain in reaction to a trigger (like a sad movie) than people who have not practiced.
As we intentionally practice and repeat noticing the spaces of choice all around us, we can get space between our spiraling self-judgments, self-blame, and mind traps that keep us stuck in states of deep unworthiness. In these spaces, not only do we now have some distance from these toxic conditionings of the mind, but we can also choose to apply the exact opposite which is greater self-compassion.
The more you practice self-compassion the more likely it is to become automatic. Self-compassion is interesting, because that could be wrapping yourself in a blanket of caring and love, going outside and letting sunshine splash on the face or it can be distracting yourself as a means to get away from the negative thoughts.
In “The Now Effect,” I dedicate an entire section of the book to the Movie in Your Mind. This is meant to beginning priming the reader’s mind to the idea that thoughts aren’t facts and also gives a number of practices to instill that reality into deeper recesses of the brain to make it more automatic.
I also try and make it more interactive than a regular book with 14 short instructional videos throughout the text, accessible either via a smartphone, embedded in an enhanced eBook or a link is provided in the book where they are hosted.
Therese: If you were to give me a cheat sheet to support me with realizing more of this in my life, what would it be?
Elisha: I anticipated this with readers and actually created a 5 Step Cheat Sheet in the back of the book.
Prime your mind. This is basic learning theory underscoring the fact that “The more you practice, the more your mind is inclined to notice the spaces.” One way to prime your mind is by controlling your environment.
Some can say “Breathe,” “How am I doing right now?” “Drop into mindfulness,” “STOP,” “Keep your heart open,” or “What is most important right now?”
This plays into the subconscious minds ability to pick up on its environment and influence it toward greater presence, kindness, non-judgment, openness and compassion.
Change your mind. Understanding thoughts are not facts can help us be on the lookout for automatic negative thoughts and mind traps. “Understand that thoughts are not facts and you can choose to orient your mind toward the good.”
See, touch, go. Making change isn’t easy and you will stray from your intentions. This is just a fact worth understanding. When this happens “see where you went, touch it, and gently guide yourself back to your life.” This will help you come back to what really matters sooner making you more effective at what you do.
Get connected. At the foundation of depression is disconnection. Make a list of people who are supportive to you, encouraging a more mindful life. Make little efforts to surround yourself with them.
Therese: Is there a practice you suggest starting off with to help us train our brains to be more present?
Elisha: In the Getting Started section in “The Now Effect” I have the first introductory video. Rather than me tell it to you, you can experience it for yourself. Enjoy!
Here are 4 steps to increase your chances of breaking free from a downward spiral and increase your chances of experiencing the Now Effect:
- Intentionally be on the lookout for the mind snowballing or when you’re in a low mood. This will prime your mind to pop out of it more often.
- Bring awareness in that moment to how you are feeling. Name the feelings if possible.
- Think about how your interpretation of the situation may be influenced by the mood you are in.
- If you are feeling an uncomfortable emotion or pain, apply some self-compassion and do something pleasurable or kind for you that day. This will send the message internally that you care for yourself and allow for the discomfort to come and go quicker as it naturally would.
As you practice and repeat this with intention, like all things, it will start to become more automatic. In other words, rewiring a healthier and more mindful auto-pilot.