Dr. Thomas Verny on The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies, and More (#175)

Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer, and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto, St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. In 1974 Verny wrote his first book, Inside Groups, for McGraw Hill. The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (with John Kelly), Summit Books, 1981 followed this. The Secret Life of the Unborn Child has become an international bestseller published in 27 countries. The Secret Life has changed the pregnancy and childbirth experience for millions of mothers and fathers.

In 1983 Verny founded the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA, renamed APPPAH—Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health – in 1995), and served as its president for eight years. In 1986 he launched the APPPAH Journal – the Journal of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (JAPPAH) (Human Sciences Press, New York), which he edited from its inception until 1990.

His most recent book, The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies, was published by Pegasus, New York and Oxford in 2021 continues his exploration of very early memory and the mind. In this work, Verny sets out to redefine our concept of the mind and consciousness, compiling for the first time,  research that points to the mind’s ties to every part of the body and the intelligence of cells. The mind, Verny holds, is fluid and adaptable, embodied but not unskilled.

In addition to eight books, Verny is the author or co-author of 47 scientific papers and articles. He has participated in more than 250 newspaper, radio, and TV interviews, including appearances with Donahue, Merv Griffin, Oprah, Sally Jessy Raphael, Barbara Walters, and Unsolved Mysteries. Vision TV, Toronto, Canada, produced a 15-minute special on Verny and his book, Gifts of Our Fathers, in 1996.

Verny’s books, professional publications, and the founding of the PPPANA and the Pre- and Perinatal Journal, have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the effect of the prenatal and early postnatal environment on personality development. He has lectured and given workshops on Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. In 2004 Mothering Magazine, in recognition of Verny’s contributions to the field of parenting and child-rearing, named him one of their “living treasures.” In 2005 the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute bestowed on Verny a Doctorate of Humane Letters (DHL).

Please enjoy!

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or on your favorite platform.

This podcast is brought to you by Newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

Connect with Dr. Thomas: Website | LinkedIn | YouTube

Book: The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

Continue reading “Dr. Thomas Verny on The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies, and More (#175)”

Sean Sessel — Seven Layers of Reality or Seven Planes of Existence

I’ve known Sean for about 6 months and I’m impressed by his vast amount of knowledge in multiple dimensions. We both are part of a collective where we get to hang out with really amazing people to discuss all the facets of life. This collective is led by Dr. Mickra Hamilton and I’m grateful to interview her on the podcast. Listen to the interview.

While at a weekend retreat sitting on the couch, he was explaining “Seven layers of reality” to a mutual friend Sidney. I was sitting next to Sean and I said – wait, and asked him “how about you write a blog post on this fascinating subject” and I’ll share it with a wide audience. As you know, I only place content on this platform that I enjoy and learn from. This piece from Sean is remarkable and it might take you several reads to understand it. If you’ve questions, I will get those answered as well. I’m still learning this model and I couldn’t wait to publish it.

Before we do a deep dive, let’s see who Sean is:

Sean Sessel is the head of The Oculus Institute and a voracious learner with a fervent belief in the ability of the individual to better himself or herself. Through the Awaken program (which shows people how to escape burnout jobs and craft careers that truly inspire them), Sean has found a means of enduring impact. Many thousands have been inspired by the introductory presentation, and Sean has personally worked with over a thousand different people on solving the problems discussed therein, including entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 executives, and professional athletes. His career advice has also been cited in numerous media outlets, including Business Insider and AskMen. 

Before The Oculus Institute, Sean was Director of Quantitative Research and Co-Portfolio Manager at Tectonic Advisors, a Registered Investment Adviser with over $1 billion in assets under advisement. Prior to that, he worked as an Associate at Boston Consulting Group, where he specialized in consumer survey analysis and organizational structures. Sean received his B.S. in Bioengineering from Rice University. Throughout this time, he has also been involved as a founder, equity hire, or board member in 12 different startups and 2 different nonprofit organizations.

His hobbies include traveling, games of calculation (including chess, backgammon, various card games, etc.), CrossFit, mixology, and Muay Thai.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: LSD and Psychedelics are illegal in many countries, and even possession can carry severe criminal penalties. None of this post constitutes medical advice or should be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. There are serious legal, psychological, and physical risks. Psychedelics are not for everyone—they can exacerbate certain emotional problems, and there have been, in very rare cases, fatalities.

Continue reading “Sean Sessel — Seven Layers of Reality or Seven Planes of Existence”

William Richards (Bill) — The Promise of Psychedelic Substances, Studying with Abraham Maslow, Psychedelics and Mystical Experiences, Administering Psychedelics Psychotherapy, Origin and The Future of Psychedelics, End-of-Life psychedelic Psychotherapy, and More (#174)

The Nishant Garg Show

William A. Richards (Bill) is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, a consultant/trainer at sites of psychedelic research internationally, a teacher in the Program of Psychedelic Therapy and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and also a clinician in private practice in Baltimore. His graduate degrees include M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, S.T.M. from Andover-Newton Theological School, and Ph.D. from Catholic University, as well as studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and with Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psilocybin research originated in 1963.

From 1967 to 1977, he pursued psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA, and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of psychedelic substances in the treatment of alcoholism, depression, narcotic addiction, and psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental-health professionals. From 1977-1981, he was a member of the psychology faculty of Antioch University in Maryland. In 1999 at Johns Hopkins, he and Roland Griffiths launched the rebirth of psilocybin research after a 22 year period of dormancy in the United States. His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,” coauthored with Walter Pahnke. His book, Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences was released in English by Columbia University Press in 2015 and has since been translated into 6 additional languages—hopefully, more coming.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: These plants and compounds are illegal in many countries, and even possession can carry severe criminal penalties. None of this post constitutes medical advice or should be construed as a recommendation to use psychedelics. There are serious legal, psychological, and physical risks. Psychedelics are not for everyone—they can exacerbate certain emotional problems, and there have been, in very rare cases, fatalities.

Please enjoy!

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or on your favorite platform.

This podcast is brought to you by Newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

Connect with Bill: Website | Bill Richards Center for Healing

Book: Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences 

Spotify playlist: Psilocybin Research: John Hopkins, Sacred Knowledge, William A. Richards

Blog post: End-of-life Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Psychedelics Awareness

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Dr. Keren Tsuk — Wisdom To Lead

As the saying goes, if you don’t have twenty minutes to practice meditation, practice for an hour.

Being mindful means that we must feel every emotion we experience in every moment, without disengaging and letting our emotions manage us.

This post highlights a written interview with Keren Tsuk, Ph.D. I sent her a few questions and she’s been kind enough to send me the responses. It’s my honor to bring forth her experiences in this short post. I’ve absolutely loved her answers which feel meditative to me.

Keren Tsuk, Ph.D., is a keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in 21st-century leadership sought-after speaker, As the founder and CEO of consulting firm Wisdom To Lead, she specializes in the development of senior management teams and corporate leadership. Tsuk guides companies and senior management teams to reach their full potential using various techniques in the field of mindfulness. She is also the author of Mindfully Wise Leadership: The Secret of Today’s Leaders.

Connect with Keren: Website | LinkedIn | Facebook

Please enjoy this conversation with Karen!

Nishant: What books—or even movies and documentaries—would you recommend to someone who wants to live a meaningful life? What books have you gifted the most, and why?

Keren: One book that had a deep impact on me was The Alchemist, about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who consults a Gypsy fortune-teller about the meaning of a recurring dream. The fortune-teller interprets the dream as a prophecy, telling the boy that he will discover a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids. After Santiago sets out, he meets various people on his journey. From everyone, he learns something about the world, and, in particular, he learns how to realize his true self from a wise alchemist. As he progresses, his challenges increase. He needs to believe in himself and in the journey. The story demonstrates that to fulfill our calling in the world, we need to search within ourselves, while also being open and curious to the signs outside that help us find our path.

I truly believe that each of us has wisdom, and nobody can know about ourselves more than we each do. This is the reason I called my company Wisdom To Lead: In order to lead, we need to connect to the wisdom within ourselves.

What touched me most from this book is that even on our challenging paths, everyone has a present to bring to the world. This present is our unique quality and calling in the world.

In order to fulfill your calling, you will also need to find your unique path. While you move forward in life, and people around you will show you the way, give you signs, open doors for you, and connect you to the people you need to meet to fulfill yourself. They will teach you what you need to learn along the journey. And as you go in your path, you need to connect deeper to your inner self and overcome fears and distractions. And as we get closer to our treasure and fulfillment, the challenges get bigger and we may have to face our fears. However, this is a sign that we are on the right path. We need to dare to get out of our comfort zones to experience the meaningful lives we wish for ourselves.

Another meaningful book is: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron, which teaches us how to handle uncertainty and adversity. When I read the book, it gave me a wider perspective on challenging situations and how to handle them. Each and every one of us goes through tough times especially today under pandemic conditions that are transforming the world. We are experiencing uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity. It looks like the uncertainty is here to stay. This is why being present and being able to navigate in uncertain and challenging times is a crucial skill that we need to embrace and nourish.

At the beginning of her book, Chodron shares a difficult experience she went through when her husband divorced her and her life fell apart. She felt a lot of anger and fear. However, this turning point brought her closer to her mission in life, as she encountered Buddhism and went on a path to become a teacher. In the end, she was thankful for the experience, and that is a major theme of the book—the idea that life is all beginnings and endings. Moreover, she talks about becoming familiar with fear and looking it right in the eye so that we can really come to terms with what we feel that we cannot address. This resonated with me so much; this is what being mindful truly means. Being mindful is to feel our various emotions without disconnecting from them, and choosing freely how to react instead of being managed by our own feelings and emotions. So, if I feel fearful right now, I will accept that — that part of me feels scared right now but I won’t let this fear paralyze me. Acknowledging fear allows us to keep on going toward our goals.

Continue reading “Dr. Keren Tsuk — Wisdom To Lead”

Dr. Amber Elizabeth Gray — Movement–Based Therapies, Restoration and Healing, Ceremonies for Healing, Somatic Psychology, Journaling for Processing Trauma, and More (#173)

“THE MOST POTENT SKILL FOR A THERAPIST IS THE ABILITY TO STEP WILLINGLY INTO THE FULL HUMANITY OF OUR PERSONHOOD” You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

Henry Drummond

Dr. Amber Elizabeth Gray is a licensed human rights psychotherapist, innovative movement artist, board-certified dance/movement therapist, master trainer and educator, Continuum teacher, and public health professional. She is a frequent invited and keynote speaker known for her engaging, participatory style and bold, speak truth to power voice and spirit. 

In her father’s words, Amber was born “dancing, fighting, and has never stopped”. Her life-long commitment to social justice and planetary, animal, and human rights; her passion for the natural world and everything wild; and her commitment to service have all inspired and shaped her work. An innovator in the use of somatic psychology, eco-somatics, and movement-based therapies (Dance/Movement Therapy, Yoga, Continuum) with survivors of trauma, torture, war, and human rights abuses, Amber has spent the last 23 years in service of her belief that “Every human being has the right to inhabit their body in the way they choose”. In support of TRI’s mission, Amber believes that every sentient being has the right to freedom, safety, and well-being.

Amber’s expertise is represented in many published articles and chapters, keynote addresses, professional collaborations, and presentations around the world. Amber has provided clinical training on the integration of refugee mental health and torture treatment with the creative arts, mindfulness, and body-based therapies. Her work has traveled to more than 30 programs for survivors worldwide since the late 1990s. She has held a leadership role on staff support programs in numerous disaster and complex humanitarian emergencies (Haiti, Indonesia, Darfur, Jordan/Syria/Lebanon, amongst many others), and trained thousands of local health care & mental health professionals and paraprofessionals to support their communities with embodied, creative approaches to Psychological First Aid, Mental Health and Psychosocial Services, and crisis counseling. She brings every ounce of her passion and commitment to social justice; social change and planetary rights to the projects TRI and partner organizations co-create.

TRI is a pathway to action. It offers partner organizations and partner colleagues opportunities to collaborate on meaningful, local & Indigenous-inspired projects that directly benefit those local communities. TRI expresses its founder’s heart and spirit.

Please enjoy!

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or on your favorite platform.

This podcast is brought to you by Newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

Connect with Amber:

Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Download Audio:

Stream the audio here

Download this audio by right click and choose “save as”
Continue reading “Dr. Amber Elizabeth Gray — Movement–Based Therapies, Restoration and Healing, Ceremonies for Healing, Somatic Psychology, Journaling for Processing Trauma, and More (#173)”

Reflections on Relationships, Childhood, Healing, Clarity, and More

The Nishant Garg Show
The Nishant Garg Show

As part of my morning routine, I love writing down my thoughts and they just flow through me. In this post, I mention some of the things I wrote in the mornings – these cover healing, inner-work, my childhood realizations, relationships, and more. I also add some great short writings from other authors that I’ve enjoyed. Personally, I created this post for myself to review some of the short paragraphs written by me and others. Why lose the track of thoughts? If at least one other person can benefit from this post, that’s all it matters to me.

Let’s begin:

“Spaciousness allows me to listen to my inner voice, my body, and the emotions I’m going through. To do nothing can be a challenge for some. I still struggle with doing nothing at times. While growing up, I never learned how to relax, how to enjoy the holidays, and mistakenly considered free time with boredom.Life isn’t rosy and flowery every day. I can choose the meaning I want to give. I can choose how I want to live. I can choose to create new possibilities even when I am afraid. I can choose to give way to my passion. I can choose to be with the unpleasantries of life. I can choose to stay with “It is what it is”. I can choose not to resist reality. I can choose and so can you.”

“I dislike the word ‘toxic’ when used to describe a human, attribute, or experience. The so-called ‘toxic’ behavior is usually a decontextualized threat response; usually a result of relational trauma or disempowerment. So when we label this person toxic, we disempower them further and perpetuate a systemic cycle of disconnection and shame.” Natalia Rachel

“If you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack. And if you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have.”Greg McKeown

“You can always look into the past. Past can never be changed, nor will the same experiences – good or bad will never occur again in the same exact fashion. I am looking at the past and smiling at it, and saying thank you for being a wonderful teacher. I don’t wish to have bad times for myself and others. I’ll say that I’ve learned the most and have grown tremendously in moments of emotional pain, breakdowns, and heartaches. Crises are the invitation to go within for introspection, learn and grow. Let’s enjoy and cherish the good times. Good or bad are just labels and are temporary. Good is followed by bad. Bad is followed by good.”

“I have to admit that I go through my own loneliness and depressive episodes. There are times I feel empty inside of myself. But, I don’t judge myself for anything. I seek ways to come back to the normal emotional and mental states of being. It’s Ok to feel low. There is always going to be low when you want to feel high. You can’t live in one state forever. If you laugh, you will cry. If you are happy, you will be sad. Why not just embrace the full range of emotions and be just human?”

“In times of challenging situations, ask yourself-What happened to me?-What’s my emotional reaction? How do I feel? What’s my opinion/interpretation/perception of the situation? This is a Compassionate inquiry exercise from Gabor Mate.

Continue reading “Reflections on Relationships, Childhood, Healing, Clarity, and More”

Payal Nanjiani: Globally Acclaimed Leadership Expert — Sharing Short Advice and Experiences

This post highlights a written interview with Payal Nanjiani. I sent her a few questions and she’s been kind enough to send me the responses. She and I connected on LinkedIn, and it’s my pleasure to bring forth her experiences in this short post.

I crafted a list of 10 life’s philosophical questions that I wanted to answer for myself. I thought—what would it look like if I ask the same set of questions to the best in the world from the different domain—so that I can learn from them—what they do, how they think on the same questions, and much more! 

Payal Nanjiani is a top leadership speaker and one of the world’s renowned leadership experts who to date has helped a million people and numerous organizations lead and succeed against all odds. Her work is embraced by Fortune 500 companies, large 0rganizations, government officials, and many celebrity CEOs. 

A former Human Resource Manager, Payal witnessed tremendous success in her early work life. When she moved to the United States of America in the summer of 2000, Payal was constantly reminded by friends and family that she is stepping into a land of opportunities where people are very successful. Excited for her new journey, she quickly rose to higher roles at her work. To learn more about her, visit page

This post highlights my conversation with Payal Nanjiani on such questions.

Connect with Payal: Website | LinkedIn | Instagram

Please enjoy this conversation with Payal!

Nishant: What books—or even movies and documentaries—would you recommend to someone who wants to live a meaningful life? What books have you gifted the most, and why?

Payal: The one book I most often recommend and re-read myself is Tough Times Never Last but Tough People do by  Dr. Robert Schuller. It was a book that was gifted to me by my father when I was in college and since then it’s helped me a lot in my own life. It’s a book that helps shape your leadership in crisis.

Nishant: You have interacted with many successful people over the years – what have you found are the most beneficial exercises that people really feel have changed their lives for the better?

Payal: If I was to name just one practice that I’ve found common across every successful leader I’ve interacted with, it is the practice of self-awareness. It just opens up the neuropathways of your brain and leads you to be accountable for your karma (actions).

Continue reading “Payal Nanjiani: Globally Acclaimed Leadership Expert — Sharing Short Advice and Experiences”

Rhonda Magee on Inner Work and Healing Ourselves, Mindfulness in Race and Justice, Resolving Conflicts and Handling Difficult Conversations, and More (#172)

“Mindfulness is about having a regular daily commitment to a kind of practice that is about awakening and awareness, in a very deep way, that is ongoing for one’s life.

Rhonda

Rhonda V. Magee (M.A. Sociology, J.D.) is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and an internationally-recognized thought and practice leader focused on integrating mindfulness into higher education, law, and social change work. A prolific author, she draws on law and legal history to weave storytelling, poetry, analysis, and practices into inspiration for changing how we think, act and live better together in a rapidly changing world.

Born in North Carolina in 1967, Rhonda experienced a childhood of significant trauma and challenge. Yet, she was gifted with the insight that through a life of caring engagement, self-development, and service with others, she could find a way up and out. She has dedicated her life to healing and teaching in ways that support others in a journey to wholeness and justice. A student of a variety of Buddhist and other wisdom teachers, including Norman Fischer, Joan Halifax, and Jon Kabat Zinn, she trained as a mindfulness teacher through the Oasis Teacher Training Institute of the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.

She teaches mindfulness-based interventions, awareness, and compassion practices from a range of traditions. A former President of the board of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Professor Magee is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, where she recently completed a two-year term on its steering council. She is a member of the board of advisors of the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and the board of directors for the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.

Rhonda has served as a guest teacher in a variety of mindfulness teacher training programs, including those sponsored by the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (2017, 2018), led by Diana Winston, the Engaged Mindfulness Institute, led by Fleet Maull (2017, 2018), and the Center for Mindfulness (2017), led by Saki Santorelli and Judson Brewer. She serves as daylong or retreats co-leader and solo teacher at centers including Spirit Rock Meditation Center, the Garrison Institute, the Shambhala Mountain Center, the Omega Institute, Esalen, and New York Insight Meditation Center.

You can read more about her biography here.

Her first book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, was published in September 2019 by TarcherPerigee, a member of the Penguin Random House Group. Order your copy now.

Please enjoy!

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or on your favorite platform.

Also available to listen on YouTube

This podcast is brought to you by Newsletter. If you’d like to learn more about what I am reading, new documentaries, what I am learning new, recent podcast updates, things I am experimenting with, or anything —which I share extensively in my weekly short and sweet “Friday Newsletter”. No spam ever! I hate that too!

Continue reading “Rhonda Magee on Inner Work and Healing Ourselves, Mindfulness in Race and Justice, Resolving Conflicts and Handling Difficult Conversations, and More (#172)”