Hacking Consciousness To Improve Our Mental Health

Transcript Summary

Max (host):

Hello everyone and thank you for coming to today’s webinar, my name is Max, and I will be the host for this presentation. Please utilize the Q&A function for any questions you may have throughout the course of the presentation and our guest speaker will do her best to answer them at the end. Ann Wagner is a speaker and coach with 30+ years of first-hand experience in areas of depression and anxiety. After enduring a brain injury and autobody experience, she decided to focus her studies on the relationship between our thoughts, consciousness, and the direct impact they have on our mental health. Today she’ll be talking about how to prevent stress, depression, anxiety, and general burnout from interfering with our personal and professional lives. Please welcome Ann.

Ann Wagner:

Thank you very much Max, I appreciate it. Hello everybody, thank you for taking the time to join the presentation this afternoon, evening, or wherever you mat be located. And this probably may be a little different from most of the talks you have listened to. I hope it will be just as valuable for you. We will be talking about hacking consciousness to improve our mental health. And I encourage you if you have any questions or if I engage you with a question and you want to put your answer in the chat box that is awesome. I’ll try to communicate that way. If for some reason I don’t get to your question, I understand there is a half hour at the end of the talk where we can do some questions and answers. So here we go. And a little bit, as Max said, I’m Ann Wagner and I am formerly a Cornell educated executive with about 20+ years in technology and healthcare sectors. Also for that period of time, for about four decades I had suffered from very severe chronic depression and anxiety. And then seven years ago, my whole life turned upside down, and specifically what happened was, I had a stroke. And I had to learn to retrain my brain. And then in the process of doing that, I overcame a lot of these mental health issues. So now what I like to do is speak to people. I’ve really pursued the topic, and I speak to people on how to develop mental immunity to depression and anxiety. I also coach executives on how to release self-limiting beliefs that kind of getting-in-your-own-way type of thing that prevent them from achieving their professional success and their personal happiness. So I like to say before we get started if you or your loved ones suffer from anxiety or depression, please don’t use this talk as a substitute for any help that you may be receiving. What I would say is I’m a firm believer in doing what works, just look at this as another tool in your tool bag that you can use to possibly improve your mental health. So let me start with my slide presentation. And today’s topic, Hacking Consciousness to Improve our Mental Health. And I’m going to start by telling you a secret. You know some people would have you that travel the far away galaxies or exploration of our oceans, or artificial intelligence is the next greatest scientific frontier. The secret is traveling inside our own consciousness and exploring that connection with our divine higher selves and the universe is, in my mind, the absolute greatest scientific frontier. So let’s lay out the problem. So the problem is how do we prevent burnout, stress, depression and anxiety from interfering with our personal and professional lives. I plan to answer that today and I also plan on sharing the journey that I have personally taken, share some information about consciousness, a little bit about anxiety, and depression, and the wonderful possibilities of leveraging and understanding of consciousness in order to improve our mental health. I know this slide’s a little silly but I love to start out with it because it’s perfectly representative. This is my first year softball team, so I am thinking I was probably nine or ten years old and if you look at the picture, me with a circle around my head down, and I actually believed that if I couldn’t see other people then other people couldn’t see me. And that’s as early as I can remember when I had really bad depression and low self-esteem. And I should mention that this team was called The Shrubs because we were sponsored by a lawn gardener. And unfortunately, we were 0 wins and 10 losses in our first year, but the second year we turned it around and we were actually 10 wins and 0 losses. On a more serious note, depression and anxiety haunted me for practically my entire life. And Winston Churchill dubbed depression “The Black Dog”, because literally it would follow you around and it dogged you, and it could be for decades. Some of you may had periods where you felt down in the dumps or kind of blue, and I think that’s pretty natural for all of us at one time or another. But there is a small percentage of people who live in a world of constant despair, who always have suicidal thoughts, who always look at the glass as half empty, and can’t see the forest for the trees. And previously, I would’ve been a part of that group. And I was a mess. A hot mess. And I’m not trying to minimize mental illness at all. I mean it’s very painful to go through, and especially to live with if you have it for a long period of time. And it’s interesting to note that a couple decades ago, there was an even greater stigma at seeking help for mental health conditions. You know, nevertheless, I was very proactive about it. I went to physicians, I went to counselors, I got medications, and I might have gotten a bit of temporary relief from a few medications, but nothing seemed to work permanently. And by the time I was in my late 20s, I was a wreck. I mean I was totally broken, and I made this decision that I was actually going to split my personality. And If you wonder what I mean by that, specifically, I knew that there was a way that you were suppose to act, that people expected. And it was so at odds with what I felt, you know which was completely broken, that I just simply decided I’m going to put on a happy face and push that brokenness down so far inside me that even I’ll never find it again. Well flash forward to about seven years ago, it was February of 2014, and I had just had a surgery on my left shoulder, rotator cuff surgery, which went fine. But two weeks to the day later from that surgery, I had a stroke. And worse, they gave me too many pain medications and it actually put me into a coma, a temporary coma. So I had no risk factors that I knew about before the stroke , so it was a really big surprise to me when I came out of that coma, and the doctors told me they had found the size of a hole in my heart. So suffice to say, I had a lot of cascading medical problems then, and I had several hospitalizations after that point. And during one of those hospitalizations, something really strange and dramatic happened. I remember I was sitting in my hospital bed, and I was just talking to the nurse, regular conversion, and I remember telling her “I don’t feel good”, and I fell backwards in the bed, and I felt like there was a thousand-pound weight on my chest. And literally my consciousness kind of popped out of my body. And what I mean by that, very specifically, it was about 5 to 10 feet to the left of the hospital, and I was just a peaceful bystander observing my body, at this point, wailing and crying. And I was vaguely aware that the nurse had called a rapid response because she thought I was having another stroke. And fortunately, I wasn’t. And it was very peaceful. I’m thinking this took about 10 minutes. And around 10 minutes later, my consciousness crashed back into my body, it’s the best way to describe it. And I was totally freaked out. I mean it was very traumatic, having been so sick and having this outer body experience. But nevertheless, I had two realizations. And the first one was you know, I had always thought of myself kind of as a body in mind, and now, I had firsthand experience that, oh no, there was more than that. There’s this consciousness and a body in mind. And I took this consciousness to be, like, my soul. Something that would normally live inside my body, when I’m alive, and something that can exist, for all time. And then, I had another realization too, and that realization was. that it’s best to describe it as a knowingness. This huge knowingness that all human beings are interconnected to each other through this consciousness and to the universe. And I mean what does that mean, I’ll get to that a little bit later. At the time I didn’t have any way of processing it, I didn’t put mental health and consciousness together, I didn’t put two and two together at all. I was just trying to get over my shoulder surgery and my stroke, and my hole in my heart. Well what I did was, I got this idea that maybe I could start recovering some of this neural plasticity in my brain from my stroke if I started to meditate.

And meditation had never been suggested to me, nor had I learned it in my Christian tradition. But I thought okay I’ll give it a try. So I would lay down, and observe my breath, and it was extremely frustrating. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was. My mind was always going a mile a minute. But for whatever reason, I thought “No, I’m just going to keep doing this practice”. So I did it twice a day, started out 10 or 15 minutes a day. After a while, I would say maybe about two months went by, and there started to be space between the thoughts. All of the sudden, there were periods of quiet mind, and that was totally foreign to me, you know, to actually have some quiet mind. And further, part of the problem was I, previously, with all of these thoughts, the thoughts would take me down a rabbit hole. Thoughts of things that hadn’t happen yet or things that weren’t realistic is what I’m trying to say that took my out of the present moment. And somewhat serendipitously, a friend of mine suggested that I start a positive affirmation. And I didn’t even know what a positive affirmation was, to be honest. I said what do you mean by that, and she said I want you to say “I am healthy” every day. Say it twice a day. And I looked at this woman and I said are you kidding me, I was as far from healthy as you can possibly be. I mean, I consider that to be a lie. And she said, you know, just try it, you really don’t have anything to lose. So okay, she had a point, so very doubtfully, every day, before bed, first thing in the morning, I would do my meditation practice. And a couple times a day, I would say I am healthy. And again, I felt like a fraud. Early on, I felt like why am I even doing this. And I’m not sure why I kept doing it, but I did. And I’m here to tell you, about a year and a half later, my physical health had improved dramatically. The doctors plugged that hole in my heart, and orthopedic problems that I had before, they no longer seem to bother me. But the most amazing thing was, that for all of those times, again, a year and a half later of saying I am healthy, I wasn’t feeling like a fraud anymore. I believed it. I mean I said it and I believed it, and it was automatic to me. And I realized there had been a shift in my consciousness, you know, I had changed the default pattern of my thoughts, which before, didn’t center around being very healthy at all. And I asked myself, you know, could this be true. Could my thoughts influence my state of health? And you know, as a former science major, from Cornell, I wanted to know if this works, how does it work. So this started me on a journey. And for the last six, or seven years rather, that I had been studying all I can about human consciousness, and applying it toward how can I create a better state of mind? In general, how could anybody create a better state of mind? And further, as my rhetorical question, can we develop mental immunity to depression and anxiety in the face of really stressful circumstances like Covid, or like political or social unrest. And I’m here to tell you, that I think the answer is a resounding yes, we absolutely can. Now let’s look at some statistics really quickly, about depression. So this slide is actually pre-Covid, so before that. But about 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. And that’s about 3.5% of the world population. The next slide is just the United States, and there’s about 40 million people who suffer from anxiety, which is a bigger percentage, about 12.5% of the U.S population. And interesting, only about a third of those people get help for this.

Okay, so far all I’ve done is go on and on about my story and I’m willing to bet you have a version of this yourself. And we’re going to get more into this because I want to help you in any way I possibly can. So let’s go over some of the, and this is not an exhaustive list, but some of the root causes of depression and anxiety. And you know it’s fairly straight forward here, but I’ll just touch on them. There’s abuse, might be sexual or emotional, genetics, although interestingly if you have a predisposition toward it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have mental health conditions, just because your parents did. Because there’s a growing field of epigenetics that shows the expression of genes is hugely influenced by our environment. There’s medications, I don’t know whether any of you may have taken steroids, roid rage is what they call it. And there are other medications too that can cause mental health problems. A death of a loved one, we grieve differently, and some of us it affects so profoundly. Illness or trauma, including maybe PTSD, so it didn’t happen to you, you may know somebody who had one of these circumstances. I’ve got other personal problems like divorce, or a major move, or a lost of a job. And then at the bottom I’ve highlighted major events, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. A lot of the major stressors that we’ve had in the year 2020 and now into 2021. And you know, I’d like to add one more to this list, it wasn’t from WebMD, this is from Ian Wagner. And that is, I would add fear to this list, because I have a parent, my mom, who is afraid of everyone, everything, and living in that household, around fear all the time, it’s extremely stressful on your body and on your brain. And I’m guessing each one of you, not all of you, but most of you, this may have happened to you is what I’m trying to say. And the moral of that story, is that it’s deceptively to fall into a depressive or anxious episode.

So I’m just going to take a quick break here for a minute and ask you directly, if you’re willing to share, will you put in the chat box what your biggest mental health challenge has been in 2020 or 2021. Thought we’d take a minute or two if you’d like to participate, don’t feel obligated. But just like some feedback. Well okay, let’s move on then and I’m going to share and keep going here. And I have my own short list here and I’m going to ask you to see if that applies to you as well. And the first one is this fear of this thing called Covid-19, and a real fear of mortality. And I’d like to share just a brief story. And that is that in May, my mother in a nursing home contracted covid. At the time, I made the mistake of facetiming her the day before she was actually diagnosed with that. So with her nurses, I saw her and she didn’t know who I was. She was delusional, she couldn’t put words together, I mean it was, I cannot convey how scary that was. It was just a horrible thing that I would not want to see anybody go through. And for you, maybe you don’t personally have a fear of dying from covid, but maybe you have a fear of passing it on to somebody you love, somebody that might be at risk, right? So there’s the fear of that. Here’s another one, lost of control. And you know, no matter where you’re located, I mean in the U.S, the politics were crazy in the last year. There were Black Lives Matter protests, people were hurt. More recently, still going on as far as I know, in Europe, in the Netherlands, there’s been pushback with the curfew they’ve put in place. And it feels like our lives are out of control. And social isolation, I hope you can relate to this, this was a huge thing for me, that going into quarantine was such a shock, we basically had no adjustment period whatsoever, right? One day there’s people working in office buildings, and the next day they’re told to stay home. Or worse, maybe they’re laid off from their jobs. And on top of that, family and friends that they used to socialize with, that’s not going to fly anymore, only the people that live in your immediate household are you allowed to socialize with. So I want to make a point that I believe that our jobs or whatever we do on a daily basis tend to anchor us into the present moment, and when that anchor is modified, or when it’s gone altogether, we struggle. Our normality can go right out the window.

There’s this great book, in my opinion, by Dr. Bruce Lipton. And if you don’t know Dr. Bruce Lipton, he is a cell biologist by background. But speaking specifically to social isolation, he talks about in his book, how there are 19,000 human genes and of those, 209 of them show markedly different expression between lonely people and non-lonely people. Particularly in the areas of the inflammatory and immune response. So very much social isolation has implications for our health.

Some more issues, frustration and anger, I bet most of you can understand this to mask or not to mask craziness. I can only say this, I understand to some people it maybe seem like it’s a lost of personal freedom to wear a mask, but after seeing somebody actively go through covid, I was at a distance, but just see it, my own personal opinion, whenever I’m around, in close quarters with other individuals, I’m going to be wearing a mask. And as far as the anger part of it goes, that simply, I mean, with everything that’s going on in society, just anger that people can’t seem to see your point of view maybe, if it’s a political view or anger that people just can’t seem to get along. Everything just seems kind of out of whack.

And finally, fatigue, and specifically, I don’t know about you, but I am just plain tired of covid. I’m tired of staying home, I want to go out and I want to socialize like I used to. I just want it to be over. So this is kind of my list that I have put together here. And I’d like to ask you, do you have any questions or comments you’d like to add before I move on to some significantly more positive information. So if you do, put it in the chat box, or if not, we can talk after the meeting, whatever works for you. I’m not seeing the chat, so we’ll check on that later. I’m going to move on not because I’m ignoring anybody out there, but because I really do hope you’ll stay at the end so we could have a dialogue about this.

But I’m going to touch on consciousness, specifically of the mechanism of the conscious and the subconscious mind. And, I love the topic of consciousness, but it’s way too broad to cover adequately in the scope of this presentation. If you are at all interest, this slide I’ve got is a book, The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden. This gentleman started out as a geologist but he’s been studying this for 35 years, it’s fascinating. There’s super interesting information about how consciousness  actually relates to the matrix of the universe. Terrific book if you have some time to read it. I, though, am going to speak practically about how the mind works, and then some techniques you can use to your mental health. Okay, and my little diagram here.

Okay, it might be hard to believe, maybe you’ve heard that very little of our conscious mind is actually used on a regular basis. Most estimate I’ve checked at couple different places I got about 5%. And that means that the remainder, that 95%, is the subconscious mind. And that would include learnt behavior patterns, learnt thought patterns, maybe senses as far back as childhood. It also includes information that would be important to our survival as human beings, information we have that’s important evolutionarily. So I want you to picture this, I want you to picture that you are out on his awesome hike in Colorado, where I happen to live. You’re out in the woods, and it’s a beautiful sunny day, and you’re so siked about it. Then all the sudden you hear some branches cracking, and you kind of look over your shoulder, and you see this. And this is not out of the ordinary in Colorado, you see a bob cat running right at you. Please tell me you’re not using that 5% of your conscious mind to see if you have cell reception so you can call for help. Right? No. Hopefully you have started to run. That you’re booking out of there as fast as you can and you’re hiding, looking for cover. And when you find that cover, I guarantee that you’re not going to remember telling your legs to move. What do I mean by that? It’s an automatic reaction right. It’s part of the 95% of the subconscious that was there to protect you.

Now you would think that our conscious mind and our subconscious mind ought to work pretty well together, in harmony. Well, why can’t I lose weight? I couldn’t lose weight for a long time even though the 5% of my conscious mind really wanted to do that, 95% of those thought patterns were like you’re a chubby kid, you know, you have no self-control, you know you like jelly donuts. So basically I have sabotaged myself before I have even started my diet. Similarly, I want to get over my depression and anxiety. So important. But you can understand where I’m coming from here, I think that if 95% of your thoughts are preprogrammed since you were very little, or things you’ve been told, or things you’ve believed, it’s going to be very hard to overcome that. But there’s very good news. That very good news is that just like training our bodies at the gym, we can also train our brains. We can override these thought patterns. So maybe you’re thinking “well how do you do this?”. And that’s what I’m getting to. I’m going to start with meditation, and even if you have any preconceived notions, try to keep open-minded about it, good or bad. And I can tell you that a lot of my friends tell me they struggle with meditation because they just cannot control their thoughts. And I think the good news is you’re not supposed to control your thoughts, meditation is supposed to be so that your thoughts don’t control you. And that is a huge differentiating factor. So just some basic questions on meditation. “How do I meditate?”, well, there’s a lot of different ways to do that, you can lay down, you can sit up, it’s best to keep your spine straight. You can do this silently, you can do this to, I prefer guided meditation, you can also, mainly what you’re doing is you’re usually observing your breath. Although some will prefer to observe like a stationary spot on the wall. So there’s a lot of different ways to do it. It’s not critical which works for you, it’s what you feel comfortable with. And people have asked me, isn’t meditation a religious practice? And certainly it can be part of one, look at Buddhism, meditation can be very important. But the point is that it doesn’t have to be tied to a religion. And as a matter of fact, I prefer to look at it like a positive lifestyle practice. A girlfriend of mine asked me, she said is meditation against God?  Am I doing something wrong if I meditate, is it against God? And I thought that was an excellent question because iw as raised as a protestant Christian, and so I thought well, I’ll look to the bible here, I’ll see what I can find. And I think I found about seven references about meditation, always in the context of prayer. So I would say if you have any hang up, if you think meditation is somehow intertwined with a particular religion, I would say instead, turn that around and consider meditation to be part of just a prayerful practice. What are the benefits of meditation? Lots of benefits. But a few that I’ve mentioned here are reducing stress and anxiety, and there was a research study at Harvard, the researcher was Sara Lazar in 2011. And she actually found that the brain changes its structure with meditation. Specifically, what’s call the hippocampus, and that part of the brain is responsible for learning and memory, the cortical surface actually physically grew in people who meditated. In addition to that, the amygdala, which is an anxiety and fear center, that actually shrunk. So meditation has very real emphasis on your body, what it can do. Increases focus and concentration, this is something I can tell you just in the last six or seven year that I’ve been meditating, my focus and concentration, I’d say, is at least ten times better than they were in my 20s and 30s. So if you ever worry about forgetting things, meditation is a great thing to do. Third I’ve got increases ability to stay in the moment, and I can tell you a story that best explains this. You know, about six years ago, I took a group meditation class. And the instructor was a nice young woman who had been meditating essentially all of her life. And she came up with this crazy statistic, she said you know, and she was also very intuitive, she said about 98% of the time I think people are not living in the present moment. They’re basically following thoughts, and going off on tangents. And I mean that seemed super crazy to me, and so why is it even important that we would want to stay in the present moment? That’s what I want to address right now. Well, the reason is because, think about it, the past has already happened, and we tend to reflect on things in the past, but that doesn’t do us any good, we can’t change anything that’s already happened, right? Opposite of that, the future hasn’t happened yet, we have no idea what’s going to happen between now and then. So all we have left is the present moment. And I think why I want to stress this for people who are depressed and anxious is because if you’re not staying in the present moment, again, as I illuded to earlier, your mind is going down a rabbit hole following all of these thoughts. Okay, my video game analogy, just wanted to touch on this, maybe I’m not the person to say this because I don’t actually play video games, but it’s my understanding anyway. That in a video game, if you master a level, you move onto the next level. And I so got this feeling when I did meditation, like video games without the video, again, what happened was, the levels I’m talking about are these levels of knowingness that I kept feeling. Specifically, it was a lot like when I had the out of body experience. Let me give you an example. One of the first knowingness episodes I had after I had been doing the meditation fairly regularly, was, that the idea we have of control is pretty much an illusion. Now, I don’t want to scare anybody off, I mean you definitely can plan, and you can hope, and things like that, but I think you would agree that everyone knows somebody that maybe has, maybe a family member will interfere with your best laid plans or a situation will come up. And in fact there’s a joke, if you want God to laugh, right, tell him what your plans are. So I think this is one of the reasons that Covid has been so scary is because pre-Covid, we would get up in the day, and we would get dressed or do whatever we do, go to work, and we didn’t think about dying, right?  Assuming you were pretty healthy. But then there comes along this disease that attacks both genders, all nationalities, all age groups, and we realize we don’t have any control at all. I mean we can do things like wear masks, but basically we have to go with the flow. Here’s another example of my video game analogy. This came a little later, but I had always thought that the opposite of fear was courage. I mean I just learned that growing up. Again, you get this knowingness, what I’m speaking of is this knowingness that the opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is love. And in fact, love is really the only thing in the end that defeats fear. So what point am I trying to make with the video game theory? The point I’m trying to make is that meditation is our connection to the divine. Some would call that God, some would call it spirit, some would call it the universe, and if you’re not into any of that, you can call it honing your gut instinct, but there is really something to it if you’ve been doing this for any period of time at all.

And affirmations, remember I told you earlier I really wasn’t sure why it worked for me to do meditations and do these affirmations. Well, here is the scoop. It works because basically meditation is slowing the subconscious mind down that we’ve talked about, and affirmations is reprogramming the information in our brain. As to why it would work some times in the day, I’ll get to that just a moment. I’m going to give you a gross oversimplification now to just start at it, it really is an oversimplification but we tend to think of ourselves as really complex human beings. And to some extent we are, but what we really are fundamentally is really well organized matter, which is a form of energy. Our atoms are always oscillating and vibrating, and there is always energy coming off of our bodies. An example, let’s say you have to go for a cardiology procedure and they’re going to do an ECG, electrocardiogram, so they put electrodes on your chest, right? And the doctor, or the technician is measuring that electrical potential by putting these wires on top of your chest. Similarly, maybe some of you have had electroencephalogram, and EEG, where they put a cap on your head. Again, they’ve got electrodes in there, and they’re measuring your brain waves and measuring the energy. Okay what’s my point right? Well my point is nobody had to stick a device like in your chest, like in your heart, fortunately, would probably kill you. Or nobody had to stick anything in your brain. This is all energy, every thought, every word, every emotion we have is sending some kind of energy into the universe. And it’s that energy that, connecting with the universe very dynamically, make things possible. So now, I will specifically talk about saying affirmations in the present tense. There’s some physics behind this that I probably don’t want to get into right today, but generally I’m going to say that you want to be saying I am healthy, or I am prosperous, or I am loved. You don’t want to be saying I am loved after I meet my significant other. Excuse me. Or I’ll be happy once I get that new job. And remember I said earlier, that basically, we’re putting things off into the future there, but remember the future doesn’t really exist, at any given point in time we have the present moment. And using affirmations before bed and first thing in the morning. Why would we want to do that? Well, we have, as human beings, four types of brain waves, and they’re present at different amounts at different times of the day. Pretty much it depends what you’re doing at that point of time as to which brain waves you’ll see more of. So if you’re concentrating on a task or if you’re sleeping, etc. Before bed and first thing in the morning are theta brain waves are particularly prevalent. And theta brain waves happen to be, it’s a state of mind where the mind is really receptive to new information. Doesn’t mean you can’t do, you can do affirmations all you want when you want, that’s even better. But just a suggestion as far as the timing on that. And I put say with feeling and emotion, and the reason for that is I said there is this energy and basically we are conveying urgency when we’re doing it that way. So I’ve talked about the meditation and the affirmations, you don’t get too hung up on it, I highly recommend it. I mean it completely turned my life around.

Visualization, this is another component, and first I’m going to say that having been so seriously depressed for so long, when you’re that way it’s really hard to think positively and think of positive scenario, but if you can say an affirmation of something and picture in as much detail as possible, for whatever reason that helps this whatever you’re saying to manifest best quicker. It just, it works beautifully. We’re coming near the end here, and gratitude, again, as somebody who was really depressed, I can tell you that I never expressed gratitude, I mean I hated my life, right? Gratitude is huge, first thing that gratitude does when you say thank you, it tends to plop you again into the present moment. Hopefully you are seeing the theme here about being in the present. The other thing about gratitude is no matter how little it is, the more things that we’re grateful for, the more things the universe seems to give us. So, I say that I am thankful for my paycheck, or I’m thankful for my beautiful healthy children. What I encourage you to do if you are skeptical of what I have to say about this, start a journal of your own. And every day, for thirty days, put down about four things, try not to repeat yourself too much, but put down four things that you’re really thankful for. And at the end of that thirty days, see if few more blessings have come your way, or maybe if you’re just in a more positive frame of mind.

You know, when there are times of difficult or stressful circumstances, it is so important to still our minds, and when we practice meditation on a regular basis, we become more resistant to destressing thoughts. Basically we’re not following the scary anymore. We want to live our lives, we want to observe things without putting undue emotion toward, especially anything particularly negative. And you know many religious traditions believe that our outward environment is a reflection of our thoughts and emotions inside ourselves. So, I would ask you, take a minute to observe your outside environment, is it peaceful, or is it stressful?

And you know, as I come to the end of the presentation here, I’d promise I would give you some tools that I think would help you or your loved ones on their mental health journey, and I’ll tell you right now, I’m a complete warrior about doing these activities because that’s how I keep mentally immune from falling back into depression and anxiety. But this is a PDF, 5 Things You Can do Every Day to Prioritize Your Mental Health, you can go to my website, that link, just take a picture of it or whatever, and please put your name in there and you’ll get the free PDF. Alternatively, I’ve left my email, you know if you have questions, especially if we don’t get to your questions today or something comes up later, contact me. And I’ve left my phone number as well. Now, I’d like to kind of wrap this up by saying I think many of us, including myself in this group, we think of our circumstances, we kind of fall into this routine of thinking our circumstances won’t change. And of course, when we think that, our circumstances don’t change. It’s kind of like thinking the tail wags the dog. What most of us don’t realize is that everything begins at your point of consciousness. So we are dynamically, with our thoughts, interacting with the environment to create our future going forward. So if you don’t like what you’re seeing now, you have the ability to change your thoughts and you can actually change your destiny to be completely separate of your outside circumstances. And I also mention to you that I do something, and specifically because I come from a business background, I help executives release any self-limiting beliefs, so removing the roadblocks, I call it mental roadblocks. And these are complimentary sessions I have a few every month, and basically there’s no charge for this session but what I do is I put together a personalized plan for you if you’d have an interest in moving forward, whether it’s to improve your mental health or your  financial health, whatever you need, this is what I do. And I would encourage you to get in touch with me, the way you can do that, just email, and if you would just put this in the subject line, you know help me remove my mental roadblocks, so I’ll be able to filter through that and see it in my email. I so wish you the best and like I said, if there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out to me, I mean I’m not a physician or a mental health worker, you’ve seen how I handle my business here. And I wanted to share lastly a quote that I think about, for whatever reason it comes to me a lot, it came back to me a lot especially when I was really depressed, and the quote is by Thoreau, and he had said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, you may have heard that quote. And I would say to you, remember we can all do better than that, we can all lead lives that are better than quiet desperation. So I wish you success and thank you for attending.


Well thank you so much Ann, that was a truly thoughtful retelling of your own story, thank you for sharing it so we can all learn from it. Also the connection to Covid is if not topical and relatable. And now for everyone else, if at this point there are any other questions you have and stories you may like to share please don’t hesitate to type it in the chat now, or if you’re comfortable and respectful we may allow you to use your microphone instead just go ahead and ask. Now we do have a couple of questions in the Q&A Ann, so you can just clock on that at the bottom of Zoom there, and I think try not to use their name in case they want anonymity. But yeah.

Ann Wagner:

Alright, so actually, people, you want me to answer them anonymously or?


Yeah I think maybe that’d be more comfortable. But yeah if you just click on Q&A.


Yeah so I just brought it up. And I’m sorry I didn’t get to answer these before to the couple people that did type something in, but one person has asked “I have a really close friend who has anxiety disorder and depression, and as a friend, how can I help her make her feel better”. I would say, the first thing if you can do, is just be a good listener. That is the very first thing you could do. You might gently suggest to her that she consider again, trying a technique like meditation. I don’t think it would make her feel any worse. So that’s where I would start. I would also, sorry I want to call you by your name here, but I want to respect your privacy, please have this person download the PDF. Just do it. It’s take the delta difference between where my mental health was before and where it is in seven years is just amazing. So, appreciate you asking that question. And another person has asked “I was wondering about your thoughts on manifestation and how it relates to consciousness”. That is a huge great question. You know, I followed some of the thought leaders in manifestation and we do manifest through consciousness. I also happen to personally think there is a higher power, I’ve already told you that I was raised in a Christian tradition, so I don’t think this magically happens, I think the way the universe was organized is just fantastic, because I’ve been able to manifest some crazy stuff. So all I would say to you, is don’t concentrate on the manifesting, concentrate on positive thinking, and just kind your thoughts. Don’t try to manifest particular things, just guide your thoughts and observe what happens. And couple more messages, if we have time. And Max, just let me know if we run out of time here.


We have some time.


Okay. So this person says “I have generalized anxiety, I’m a serious overthinker, I don’t get into self-harm, or anything”, which is good, “and I do acknowledge my blessings, but sometimes my thoughts are too loud. So so loud that even meditation becomes impossible, you know, my brain just won’t relax”. Okay, so again, I’m going to start out, full disclosure here, I’m not a physician, and I don’t have all of medical answers or anything like that. But I can tell you, as someone who went to an Ivy league university, I’m there with you as far as being a serious overthinker. And just those constant thoughts. I’m amazed that it didn’t really doom me. I highly recommend to you, you say meditation becomes impossible, my brain just can’t relax. Don’t force yourself, just do a few minutes, I have a friend who does what she calls a sit, she just looks at something in the wall for about 10 minutes, which sounds totally goofy right? But it helps her mind relax. I mean she’s been doing this for a while now, it doesn’t take a lot of time, you don’t have to beat yourself up, you don’t have to go full blown meditation, but give that a try. Just see if it gently gets you into things, and then, maybe it will allow you down the road so you could enjoy meditation. I mean I found it a hassle at first for the first year or two, and that’s no longer a hassle, it’s my habit. I have to do it, it makes me feel so good. The next person has a question that “what online sources would you recommend when someone wants to begin meditating”. That’s a great question, you know I didn’t have any idea, I didn’t have any teacher, I did all of this on my own. I didn’t know what I was doing, to be honest. I would say do some research, google it. But the first thing would be to find out how do you like to meditate. For example, I don’t sit up, you see people in lotus position, I don’t sit when I meditate. I lay down. So I do something that’s comfortable for me. I meditate, I listen to Youtube, guided meditations. So first thing is to get comfortable, and figure how you like to do this. And then, I would suggest there’s people like Jason Stevenson, or David Yee, or Jess Shepherd, those are people that are hugely into meditation and do have some videos on Youtube. So, I don’t know whether I can, I’m just going to put these people’s name in here just in case you’re interested. And you know, again, one thing I would add to that is that overthinker that I am, like I said the last person pointed to, I always thought I was doing it wrong. I always wanted to know how to do it right. There is no right way. Everybody may have something they like to do better, transcendental meditation, whatever. I’m a very practical person, does it make me feel better? And if you find something that works for you, makes you feel better, I’m giving you a virtual high-five. I mean that’s my feeling.

And what do I think about CBD to help anxiety. And which do you recommend better. Okay, I’m not a good person to answer this. I have two adult children, one of which knows a lot about CBD, strains and things like that. But because I had so many problems growing up I wanted to get away from anything that would alter my mental status. I wanted to do this naturally. So I’m afraid I’m not going to be a good one to answer your question. I appreciate the compliment, you said thank you for presenting, I appreciate it very much and again, if I can be of help, if you need any coaching on anything, please hit me up by contacting me through my email address. Any other questions that Max you see? Don’t think so.


No I just put those names that you recommend in the chat. Alright, well if I suppose that’s it, thank you everyone for attending and a big thank you to you Ann. Please enjoy the rest of your day and good luck to you in the future.

Ann Wagner:

Alright. Thank you very much everybody.


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