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Most of my work as a health coach involves helping people respond differently to stimuli.

That is, develop the ability to make different choices when confronted with tempting foods, tempting environments, tempting people, and tempting sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

Think about it – NOT having that ability basically means you're a robot, a machine. If you can't control your responses, you have no freedom.

Psychologists and coaches typically work on the cognitive level; the realm of thoughts. Motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy – these are based on the idea that if people fixed their dysfunctional thinking, their behaviors would change to be in line with their goals, instead of sabotaging them.

And it's true that sustained changes in thinking can and do shift behavior.

The problem is, our thoughts are often not the root cause of the dysfunctional behavior, but are themselves symptoms of something deeper.

The question is, what is the root cause? Not just of dysfunction, but the source of all our interpretations of reality, and our responses to those interpretations?

Today's guest, Scott Carney, spent the past three years exploring that question.

His exploration took the form of a question, based initially on his experience with the work of Wim Hof, the Dutch “Iceman” who trained himself to perform physiologically “impossible” things, like control his core temperature and immune system.

Scott wondered, what other “unconscious” biological functions can we gain control over? And what does this say about our potential as human beings?

In other words, can we extend the freedom to choose our responses to stimuli to the automatic processes of our bodies?

Scott's quest took him to flotation tanks that have been used therapeutically to treat PTSD. To a Latvian sauna to receive a redline treatment that appears to help significantly with depression. To an MDMA-informed couples therapy session with his wife. To a class in juggling kettlebells to explore the concept of flow. To a Peruvian ayahuasca ceremony. And – fans of Andrew “Spudfit” Taylor will love this – to eating nothing but potatoes for five days.

Just as my clients seek freedom from their conditioned responses, Scott explored the world of people seeking the freedom to reset their nervous systems, immune systems, endocrine systems, and muscular systems.

For better physical and mental health.

For greater control over themselves.

And to discover the edges of what it means to be a self-determined human being.

Scott calls this ability The Wedge.

In our conversation, we explore the science of neural symbols, discuss how to decouple sensation from emotion (hugely important for people trying to change how they eat and exercise), and explore the physical analogs of depression and anxiety, and how careful introduction of environmental stressors can make us happier and healthier.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

The Wedge, by Scott Carney

Scott Carney's previous Plant Yourself episode 

ScottCarney.com

What Doesn't Kill Us, by Scott Carney

Andrew “Spudfit” Taylor's Plant Yourself episode

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Anthony Dissen – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Christine Nielsen – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Wayne Pedersen – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Susan Ahmad – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Kelly Michiya – DeAnne Norton – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Tanya Lewis – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Valerie Pelletier – Peter W Evans – Colleen Harrison – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Günter Schmid – Marjorie Lewis – Kelly Moulden – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Rachelle Kennedy – Diana Goldman – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – Hollie Butler – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Olga Szydarowska – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – for your generous support of the podcast.

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