It all started when Yolanda Gutierrez, a nursing professor at UCSF, invited me to give a guest lecture on EBT. At the time, I was going through a divorce, juggling raising young children largely on my own, and was at Brain State 5 a lot. My life was falling apart.
When I arrived in her classroom on Parnassus Avenue, the students were chatting and I pulled her aside. We were chums, and I wanted to share with her what was happening in my life. I told her that my life was dissembling.
She smiled and gave me a hug. Then she said, "Oh Laurel, you're just going through a bad cluster."
What a relief. I wasn't falling apart. I was just going through a "bad cluster"!
Since that time, EBT has become neuroscience-based, giving me more evidence that she was right. My beliefs about adversity changed dramatically and shaped the mission of EBT to this day:
Number 1: Honoring the perfection of life
First, it's rather strange that any problem we have is solvable on the spot, as right when it is annoying us, we receive an immediate alert. We feel stressed.
What could be more perfect than a universal arrangement that the solution is right under our nose, or in this case, right behind it? The circuits that block our capacity to create joy in our lives and fulfill our purpose show up and announce themselves with a flourish as issues, problems, bad habits, and overreactions. The pain of them gives us the motivation to do something about it.
Number 2: Celebrating our capacity to create joy
Second, we all love to be in control, particularly of the present moment, if we are stressed, so it's worth celebrating that if we process our emotions, we can stop that stress immediately and feel in control again.
The process that stops the discomfort of that issue, problem, bad habit, or overreaction is not just to relax or calm down. The stress with its cascade of chemicals and inflammation won't fade until we create strong positive emotions, specifically joy.
Joy is not optional and is more than an emotion. It activates strong physiological changes immediately. Even more worth celebrating is that by processing stress to joy, we deliver the needed emotional shift to rewire the root cause of that discomfort – the faulty wire. All in one, we feel better, and by doing so, our brain gets better and becomes more resilient.
Number 3: People helping people help themselves
The practice of opening our hearts to seeing whatever misery presents itself to us as perfect, using tools that create joy, and rewiring the circuit that causes that misery is impressive. However, to take that joy to the next level, the process is far more effective, rewarding, and riveting when someone listens to us use it.
The emotional brain has no walls, so when someone listens to us, we benefit from their inner strength, and our experience becomes deeper. Conversely, just by listening to another person's emotional process via the route of mirror neurons, that listener moves to joy, and their own emotional brain is updated.
Third, the largest epidemic now is loneliness. Social media is not authentic, and the brain craves more than dopamine highs from novelty and excitement. We need the oxytocin pulses that only come when people share their inner lives. It's no surprise then, that evolutional biology would reward us for processing our emotions with another person.
As we listen to each other, we not only emotionally connect with ourselves but with them, and the natural high from using the tools is stronger. No drug or procedure can cure loneliness, but creating joy in the face of adversity does it reliably and quickly.
A community that creates joy and cures loneliness
EBT is a community of people creating joy in their lives and lending a hand to help others do the same. We connect with ourselves, connect with others, have those moments of unexpected inspiration and kindness, and raise the set points of our brains together. What a way to live!