I recently spent a week at 40 Years of Zen, a brain training program, founded by Dave Asprey (Bulletproof), on the outskirts of Seattle, Washington. The week was profound so I want to share it with you. It’s an expensive training program, but in my estimation, it is worth every cent!
The staff works with just 4 people at a time, so each student is extremely well supported during the week’s training. The Head of Neuroscience at 40 YOZ, Dr. Drew Pierson (above left), worked with us, along with his research assistant, Sam Tullman, and Psychologist, Brad Lichtenstein (above right). I’m the one in the center.
On the first day, they mapped our brains. From the brain map, I discovered that at some point in my life, my right prefrontal cortex was injured severely enough to cause a head trauma that affected a number of areas in my brain. Dr. Pierson told me that with this kind of trauma he would expect that I would have trouble focusing, trouble falling asleep, and have memory issues. What I discovered is that the meditation that I have practiced, both morning and night daily for nearly 40 years now, has worked to counteract those expected problems. He set up a training program for me to help my prefrontal cortex learn how to repair itself. It was awesome! I got to see that part of my brain healing itself in real time! Each time I worked with the program, the difficulty of the task was increased, and that part of my brain rose to the occasion to learn what it needed to do to solve the problem. I was directed to simply focus on the screen, keep my eyes still, and observe. I didn’t have to try to do anything. I was told that my brain would do the work on its own. I can’t tell you how exciting that was for me!
And that was only one part of the training program!
I went to 40 YOZ with the following goal: I wanted to forgive everything and everyone from my past; let go of any and all resentment or grudges held. In effect, I wanted to rewrite my entire history through the lens of gratitude. There were some persistent issues that I’ve worked on with counselors several times in my life, and I would arrive at a place of understanding, even forgiveness. But ultimately, the issue would come back up and cause internal pain again. I don’t know if the persistent nature of the issues were because I felt embarrassed and was rendered incapable of mining deeply enough to get to gratitude, or if I simply never felt safe enough to find resolution. Before I went, I set the intention to address the issues so thoroughly that I would get past understanding and forgiveness, and enter into a feeling of gratitude. I was determined to tell the whole truth, no matter how embarrassed I felt, and “leave it all on the dance floor,” as they say. I did. My life has been rewritten, and I am able to “forgive-into-gratitude” in the moment.
While there, I also learned how to tell when my brain wave is functioning at an Alpha level, which is the level at which thorough forgiveness and feelings of gratitude occur. This is helpful for generating forgiveness-into-gratitude, in the moment that a perceived wrong occurs. I also learned that my strongest brain wave level is Gamma, which is essentially the meditation brain wave, and that my left and right brain do an excellent job of communicating with each other (also a benefit of having a daily meditation practice).
Last, but not least, there’s Gil, the 40 YOZ Chef. He cooks and serves up Bulletproof-inspired lunches and dinners that are delicious!
I strongly recommend the 40 Years of Zen brain training program. You can read more about the program at www.40yearsofzen.com.
PS. The moral of this story is–if you don’t have a daily meditation practice yet, it’s time to begin!
PSS. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day–begin!