Ep#076 The Mindful Body – A Key To Lasting Positive Change With Serge Prengel, Mindset Coach and Integrative Therapist
Training our minds to be more present, we can become more curious, less judgmental, less reactive. We can learn to be more trusting of ourselves and the innate wisdom of our body and mind. When it comes to making real positive changes in our lives, mindfulness practice is a total game changer. But the benefits of mindfulness meditation are especially life changing when combined with body awareness techniques.
Today’s guest is a long time practitioner and teacher in the personal transformation space. Serge Prengel, LHMC is in private practice in NYC and a co-founder of the Integrative Focusing Therapy online training program. His expertise is exploring creative approaches to mindfulness: how to live with an embodied sense of meaning and purpose. Serge is the author of “Bedtime Stories For Your Inner Child” and “The Proactive Twelve Steps: A Mindful Program For Lasting Change” and the host of the “Active Pause & Mindfulness” podcast.
In this engaging conversation, we dive into what it means to have a “Mindful Body” and how it can help us connect to the power of our intuition, facilitate lasting habit change, minimize self sabotage, strengthen self motivation and ultimately create a healthier, happier life.
Visit Guest Website: https://proactivechange.com
Learn More: https://www.focusingtherapy.org/for-clients/find-therapist/serge-prengel/
Guest Books: “The Proactive 12 Steps – A Mindful Program For Lasting Change” “Bedtime Stories For Your Inner Child”
Guest Podcast: “Active Pause and Mindfulness”
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (22s):
Hello, and welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening. So mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation, which was a little known practice up until fairly recently in the west. But today it’s really gone mainstream. And it said now to be a $4 billion industry, mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of one’s incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them without attaching or reacting to them. It’s something that we learned to do and master why doing it regularly. It’s training our minds to be more present and so that we can become more open, more curious, less judgmental and less reactive.
Christine Okezie (1m 9s):
Becoming more mindful, allows us to be able to see things from a more realistic, new and empowering perspective. We can learn to be more trusting of ourselves and the wisdom of our bodies and minds. Mindfulness shows us that we can actually experience more of what we want in life with less striving. It teaches us to become more accepting or compassionate of ourselves and our circumstances. And thus makes us feel more able to let go of things that are keeping us stuck.
Christine Okezie (1m 49s):
So you see, when it comes to making real positive changes in our lives, the practice of mindfulness is a total game changer and the benefits of mindfulness mindfulness meditation are especially life-changing when combined with body awareness techniques. Well today’s guest is a long-time practitioner and teacher in this field. He Serge Prangle he’s in private practice in New York city and co-founder of the integrative focusing therapy online training program. He has been exploring creative approaches to mindfulness, how to live with an embodied sense of meaning and purpose.
Christine Okezie (2m 32s):
He’s an author of a couple of amazing books, “Bedtime Stories For Your Inner Child” and “The Proactive 12 Steps, A Mindful Program For Lasting Change.” Serge is also the host of a fantastic podcast called “The Active Pause and Mindfulness Podcast”. So I can’t wait for you to listen in on this insightful and practical conversation. I hope that you enjoy it. And if you like to leave a reading and review, I’d be grateful on Apple Podcast. And if you haven’t hit the subscribe button, please do so. It helps me keep the podcast growing. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the episode and hello, Serge. Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast.
Christine Okezie (3m 13s):
It’s a pleasure to have you here today.
Serge Prengel (3m 15s):
Well, same here, Christine. I’m very happy to be here talking to you.
Christine Okezie (3m 19s):
Thank you. So search, what puts you on the path to do the personal growth and transformation work that you do now?
Serge Prengel (3m 28s):
So a large part is my own interest in my own personal growth transformation. The sense that, you know, there is, it is possible to, to expand your horizons, to see things differently, to move, to act differently. So essentially it’s kind of a self rewarding process when you do something and you see it at work, it really gives you appetite to do more because it’s not some kind of a thankless hopeless task, but it really brings its own rewards. Hmm.
Christine Okezie (4m 4s):
Okay. So you’re a path to become a therapist and work with folks started out not necessarily the most traditional way, right. That you started out, I think in the business world, interestingly enough. Right. And, and I guess like all things, you know, things unfold and your interests sort of deepened. So what was the, what do you think was the, the bridge to dive deep into, you know, personal work?
Serge Prengel (4m 32s):
Well, even in business, you know, I chose an area of business that was related to creativity. I was, I had an advertising agency. I have always been very interested in the creative process. And so what advertising was for me was a way to understand things differently, communicate them differently to people in such a way that it would, it would really strike a responsive chord in them. And, and so the making of that was always fun for me. And it’s still very fun for me to do things with words and pictures and ideas, but you know, what happened is that at some point I felt, you know, just doing it is not enough if the meaning itself does not agree with something that’s important to me.
Serge Prengel (5m 29s):
And so that’s where I veered the, from just doing something that was fun to actually wanting to communicate something that was useful.
Christine Okezie (5m 38s):
Oh, I love that. Okay. So creativity, you know, a channeled and conscious creativity with something was the, was kind of the link there when diving into human behavior and understanding how to maybe figure out how we can in, in, in cultivate that, you know, give people to cultivate that creativity. So you came up with you’re deep into something called focus oriented therapy, and I’d love if you could just share just for bank links and foundation, how’s that different from what I would call, maybe people’s notion of standard talk therapy.
Serge Prengel (6m 14s):
Well, from one thing there’s tons and tons and tons of ways of doing therapy. You know, the cliche way of the old Freudian analyst, you know, sitting behind you, you’re in the couch and the Freudian analyst is sitting behind and taking notes and
Serge Prengel (7m 0s):
Something has to click. So you experience it, you get it at a certain physical level, and then you have that deep motivation to do something different things happens.
Christine Okezie (7m 14s):
Yes. So the focus oriented focus oriented therapy. Now walk us through what’s the strategy or what’s, you know, how do we get that click to happen?
Serge Prengel (7m 25s):
Yeah. Yeah. So for one thing, there is no a cookie cutter approach that would work for everybody, or that would work for the same person all the time, because by definition, it’s a, it’s a little, it’s an aha moment and that aha moment you can facilitate it, you know, and that’s where, you know, my, my skill or my training, my, you know, experience brings me to people, making it easier for them to get to that moment, but not necessarily to guarantee it at a given time. And, and so, you know, the, the aha moment is something that’s similar to what you have, you know, for instance, your, you know, the, the old cliche of you think about something for a long time, you’d take your shower.
Serge Prengel (8m 15s):
And then you have that idea in the shower, you know, or in Zen, you know, the concept of Cohen that you have a question that is unanswerable in any logical way, and you stay with it and you ponder it and you find ways to, to really internalize it until wow. Something comes up and it, it, it Springs up. So from the, you know, the mundane, the, the, the idea in the shower to the deeply mystical, mysterious, a Zen koan, there’s a whole function of the human mind that is of taking a problem inside and letting the work be done in somatic way, in a way that is not something that you can trace with ordinary markers, but let your body find the idea.
Christine Okezie (9m 4s):
I love that. And you maybe that you can walk us through this practice or this concept of Bodyfullness that you use in your work. You know, everybody knows the term mindfulness, which is we’ll go deeper into that cause you offer some really cool perspectives on that, but I’d love for you. If you could maybe talk us through, maybe this is body fullness, what is that? Why is that important?
Serge Prengel (9m 27s):
Yeah, so, you know, I think we have a, an unfortunate dichotomy between mind and body as if they were two separate things. And while I am a great, enthusiastic about mindfulness, the problem with calling it mindfulness is that it’s almost as if it were separate from the body, which of course, you know, real practitioners of mindfulness, don’t separate the two, but there’s a tendency to think, oh, if it it’s mind. And the, actually the thing that is wonderful is that the big insights, the, the, the whole thing about mindfulness in any way you take it, whether it’s about insight or about, you know, having self-regulation of emotions is about mindful body.
Serge Prengel (10m 17s):
So a body fullness is about the idea that actually, you know, what we call mindfulness is being enable to achieve, to experience a mindful body.
Christine Okezie (10m 30s):
I love that. It’s so important because I think, you know, in the work that I do, you, you reach a certain limitation. If you’re just trying to talk it out or think, think it out or intellectualize, it’s really good to see the patterns and use the cognitive mind to identify, you know, patterns of that we want to shift. But ultimately, as you have pointed out the real change, the click, you know, the aha moment happens at a much more subtle level and that’s really in the body, right?
Serge Prengel (11m 1s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so, you know, if I may turn the tables on you, when I, maybe you want to share an example of how, in your experience in your practice, you see that happening at the body level, because maybe we can just talk about it from our two perspectives.
Christine Okezie (11m 18s):
Well, you know, it’s funny because I think folks understand their entry into mindfulness that I work with is usually because they’re too stressed. Right. And they’re overwhelmed. So if they’re trying to make changes, for example, in the work that I do around food and lifestyle, self-care things like this healthy more health promoting habits and less the, you know, health promoting habits. The first thing we have to do is get the body and the mind in the right setting. Right? And normally that default setting for them is going 150 miles an hour. Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking it’s not even necessarily just physically active, but we make them aware of sort of the perpetual sort of chronic state that they’re in.
Christine Okezie (12m 0s):
So that the mind is almost like a ping pong ball. You really can’t focus. Right? And so it gets really hard. So when you call on willpower to say, I’m just going to do it right, or I got stopped doing this right now, it falls short. You can do it for a short amount of time. You can certainly willpower your way through many things, but it’s not sustainable. And I find that in order to really have the wisdom to say, you know, I know this is important. I need to shift this and I understand why, but then to actually have the true willpower or the true strength of will, if I can say to shift that in a, in a, in a sustainable way, you have to make contact with a part of your, your state of mind, your state of being that offers more stability and more true, genuine sense of self, like confidence, like, yeah, okay.
Christine Okezie (12m 48s):
This is why I want to do this. It’s not because of half to should old conditioning. Right. It’s really just, and it’s from a place of compassion, really. It’s from a place of deep understanding of self, but wow. You know, this is really not working for me and it’s been hard, but in order to have that kind of reflection, you have to get the body in the right setting, you know, physiologically, energetically, it’s making contact with a different part of ourselves. That’s what I say. That’s always there. Right. But that’s the level again, below the thinking, thinking that my experiences. And so that’s through, for me, that’s through different techniques of yoga practices, you know, meditation and breath work that allows us to contact something more subtle and more substantive when it comes to who we are.
Christine Okezie (13m 36s):
And then from that place. Hmm. Maybe we could do something different. Yeah.
Serge Prengel (13m 40s):
Oh, I, I, I agree with you. And it’s interesting. I want to take what you said to rephrase it somewhat, to see how it fits the framework. You know, that I, as I see it, so essentially, as you were talking about it, you know, almost we’re having at the beginning of gesture with your hand wavering, and imagine that say your hand is replacing your head. So you have imagined the body being totally straight, you know, not moving, you know, not straight in a sense of being in a, but really not moving. And the head as the hand, that’s wavering a little bit like a candle, which is straight and, and the flame flickers with the wind.
Serge Prengel (14m 25s):
And so that would be the image for the mind, the mind racing, a hundred miles an hour, the ideas coming, the I’m going this way, I’m going that way. What about this? What about that? You know, and what’s happening there is that, you know, again, if you take the analogy of the candle, the candle itself is burning and providing the fuel for this, but does not get anything from it is really depleted from that. And all you’re doing is moving the flame. And so the process of embodying change of embodying experience is about shifting your attention.
Serge Prengel (15m 6s):
And, you know, so that it’s not just up there following, because it’s very, you know, it moves so fast. It’s like the shiny object, the ideas go a hundred miles an hour. Wow. It’s exciting. It’s this? Oh, wow. You know, but it’s actually shifting from that to paying attention to the body. And so when you mentioned techniques like yoga or other approaches, essentially they’re wonderful means to an end, which is to shift the attention from shiny objects on the fast moving stuff up there to bring the attention into the body. And once you bring the attention into the body, what it is is actually your body is more connected to your brain.
Serge Prengel (15m 52s):
And then you’re not just thinking with your brain on nervous excitement, but you’re thinking with your whole body. And so you have increased your resources and you have increased your, you know, your calmness because you have shifted to a more, you know, stable ballast the fast moving. So this in turn puts you in the nervous system of way of functioning. That’s a mindful way. So you have more brain power available and essentially that’s how you shift to gaining more capacity to process the situation and make change.
Christine Okezie (16m 35s):
I love it exactly right. It’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a unify unification of, you know, I always say, I think of it is, you know, if it’s putting the body in the right setting, you know, when our phones go on low battery and they, they turn yellow, right. And there’s only a limited, you know, shortage, there’s a, there’s a limitation on how it can, what it can do. I kind of feel that you just crystallize that for folks, because we have so much more than just the chatter chatter thinking got to figure it out. There’s this whole below the neck vehicle, right. That can, we can bring online. And so you did a beautiful job doing that. Thank you. So body fullness, this is key you, I love your, the practices you recommend our, or talk about to get people, to have a felt sense.
Christine Okezie (17m 22s):
So going deeper again into the experiential, can you maybe give us an example of how you work or some tools that you know, are useful in, in giving people that felt sense from your perspective?
Serge Prengel (17m 36s):
Yeah. So it’s good to know that we always have the body experience. You know, we always the body itself adjusts to the situation, the body senses, you know, the mind body senses, what’s happening to give you an example. For instance, if you’re sitting at the desk and somebody moves behind you, even when making no noise whatsoever, you kind of feel of presence and you might feel it in a, in a way that suddenly your, your shoulders rise, you know, so this is, you know, that’s an extreme example, but essentially the body is trained by, you know, millions of years of evolution from inferior life forms, you know, all the way to us to really sense what’s happening.
Serge Prengel (18m 29s):
What it is is we, because we have amazing tools of intellectual understanding and conscious brain power. We disconnect the tools that are more primitive with paying attention to the sensing. And so what it is is cultivating the ability to notice the sensing.
Christine Okezie (18m 54s):
I love that. Okay. Some people might call that intuition. And again, your approach, what is your definition of intuition in regard to this felt sense experience?
Serge Prengel (19m 6s):
So I would say there’s two kinds of intuition. You know, we’re two approaches to defining it. One is intuition is literally what I described. So the intuition that somebody is behind you, for instance, by trusting the sensing of the body, but there’s another kind of intuition or where something similar, if you one that’s formed by repeated practice. So the more you repeat something, the more you get an unconscious feeling for it, and you’re able to do it. It’s essentially procedural memory. So very similar to the way you bike a bicycle, you don’t need to think about it consciously in order to do it.
Serge Prengel (19m 48s):
So that that’s a phenomenon of the same order.
Christine Okezie (19m 52s):
Okay. Fascinating. Okay. So is part of developing that body fullness connected to us developing or cultivating what we, what I call, let’s say the intuitive capacity of the mind, you know, the, just the knowing, cause I like to think, especially again, in the area of habit change, which you’re, you’re very versed in it’s, it’s, it’s like having access to the choice, you know, I, I like to say, listen, we’re always in choice. Right. But only if we’re aware only if our body body mind vehicle is in the setting where that choice is actually real. Because most of the times it’s not really, it’s conceptual that we have a choice, right?
Serge Prengel (20m 37s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. So the more we develop our ability to sense to not just go into mindfulness as something that’s abstract, but you’re really practicing mindfulness as body fullness, which means sensing our whole being, the more we become able to detect the subtle changes and these things are even, you know, when they’re not so subtle, if we’re not primed to listen to them, we disregard them.
Serge Prengel (21m 18s):
And we ignore them even when they’re really very strong. But most of the time, these, these things are pretty subtle. And so developing the ability to listen to them, to hear them to know what they correspond to is essentially just like learning a language where you’re able to get the information it’s freely available. But if you don’t know the language and you don’t know how to listen to it, you’re essentially deprived of it.
Christine Okezie (21m 49s):
But I love that. Okay. So can you give us an example, like, so for example, what are some, you know, struggles, you know, things that people want to change or experience more or less of that this kind of cultivation of felt sense knowing can really be the key, maybe share an example that you, that brings that home for you.
Serge Prengel (22m 12s):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, you know, I would say generally pretty much everything because it’s something that to everything, but to give you, you know, examples, big and small, you know, for instance, it could be about the sense of you’re sitting about to eat and eat a restaurant and you don’t know what to order and you can go pretty much. Do I do want this? Do I want that? And it’s trying to find the answer from the outside going inside is having that little moment. So what, what, what actually do I want and paying attention insight instead of what should I want, you know, and it’s so very simple.
Serge Prengel (22m 59s):
It’s not the life-changing moment in very, but it is actually having a sense of, oh, when I’m doing this, I’m in touch with who I am and what I want. Okay. And so it’s a very minor thing in the scheme of things, but at the same time, it’s a very satisfying thing because suddenly it’s getting in touch with, oh, wow. I know who I am and what I want. Okay. Thank you. And at another extreme, it is about the notion of meaning and purpose. So big issues, big things about life. And, you know, you can go torture yourself about what’s the meaning of my life or what’s my purpose in life.
Serge Prengel (23m 42s):
And look for enlightenment somewhere to tell you what it should be. And, you know, on the other hand, having that felt experience of this feels right. Okay. Then it gives you that, you know, settled, calm, peaceful, but also so satisfying sense of, well, yeah, I know what I want.
Christine Okezie (24m 8s):
Absolutely. I love that. Is that what you would call is this, which maybe you mean by active pause, you use that a lot in your work.
Serge Prengel (24m 17s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So very much take on of what you were saying a moment before, and you were saying that, you know, the ability to make choices is really what’s important. So to see the choices and that if you are not, you know, aware of that, then of course you’re on a track. So is there’s a general sense that as long as you continue being on the same track, you’re not aware of any side roads, any possible way to, you know, any alternate ways of doing things. That’s right. And my sense of it is, you know, any form of mindfulness or body fullness starts with having that little pause.
Christine Okezie (25m 3s):
Yeah. Give us an example of what can we do? Like what’s the tool that you like to share with your,
Serge Prengel (25m 9s):
So it’s a sense of giving yourself an opportunity to pause for a moment. Okay. Now just pausing. It’s good to know that it’s not pausing like a tape recorder or a video recorder where you pause, you know, and then when you resume, it starts the way it was. But you pause with an intention to have some curiosity about what is it that happens as you pause. And, you know, again, this is where the sensing comes about.
Serge Prengel (25m 49s):
It’s going to be very subtle. You know, the first time you do it, then if you’re in that mode of doing and doing, and I say, pause, your boss is okay, so is it over? And again, we can, we get on with life, you know? Okay. I’ve paused or your experience of the pause is going to be something about being impatient. You know, you know, I can’t wait to go on or an experience it’s, it’s totally blank, but I just pause. There’s nothing. Okay. Let’s move on to what’s serious. Okay. So the, what makes it active is to introduce the notion that what the pause is about is shifting from the doing mode to actually a curiosity about what it’s like to be, and not what it’s like to be as a general abstract question, but what it’s like for me right now this minute to what is happening inside.
Serge Prengel (26m 46s):
And so maybe we could just, you know, invite people who are listening to this to take a little pause. So for a moment, you know, you close your eyes, I’m going to stop talking for a minute. And as I stopped talking, just bring your curiosity, insight to what’s happening in your throat. What’s happening in your shoulders, in your chest, in your belly, even something very subtle. And it’s okay if you don’t find anything. Okay. So I’m going to stop.
Serge Prengel (27m 41s):
And so in a podcast, we need to continue in real life. As you’re listening to this, you might put on pause the podcast to give yourself a longer pause. Okay. Because for instance, one of the things simply I notice myself when I take this pause is I was on a track to talk and so active. And my energy is moving along, you know, not quite galloping, but kind of a fast pace because I have these ideas I’m interested in, I’m talking about and excited. And so with the pause, I first noticed that all this energy first has no place to go.
Serge Prengel (28m 24s):
And it takes a moment for it to slowly calmed down a little bit, you know? And so for you, it might be different because you’re somewhere else, you know, you’re doing something different, but it’s not an instant answer. It’s not like you just pause and then wow, you have this big screen fills up with all kinds of amazing things, but it’s about staying with it. Okay.
Christine Okezie (28m 49s):
Yeah. And I think you, you mentioned a really good component of this is curiosity, you know, and when, when we’re, we just get curious, we’re not judging and we’re not doing, we’re trying to fix anything. We’re just sort of asking. And I love the question I use it often is what is happening inside me right now? Yeah. That’s a really, you know, it’s a big pivot because usually first of all, we’re turning our eyeballs around and we’re looking inside as opposed to being externally, you know, captivated. But the actual notion that I may need to pay attention to all this sensory information is really powerful. I mean, we’re, we were such above the next society, you know, and culture, you know, so it’s quite radical to say, and, and actually in the work that I do, I’d love, if you could share your thoughts on, you know, sometimes being in these bodies is, is a struggle.
Christine Okezie (29m 38s):
You know, if you have chronic pain, if you have, you know, health challenges, it’s not a friendly place to pause and feel.
Serge Prengel (29m 47s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. I think that’s a, it’s a key point. I’m glad you bring it up because otherwise it makes it like, oh, you really have to be an idiot not to be doing it. You know, it’s so beneficial. So why don’t you? And a great thing is that, you know, the, our ability to be mindless, you know, to not be conscious of what’s happening is an amazingly useful skill. For one thing, you know, when we have to do stuff, it sometimes helps to really not turn the attention inward, but turn the attention outward toward the task and forget your inner task for a moment, especially when it’s difficult.
Serge Prengel (30m 29s):
So it’s a survival skill. It’s also a survival skill to be mindless because often it’s very painful and the way we survive it is by turning off the awareness. And so it is really toxic to tell people you should be turning inside and you will have such a rewarding experience of life when actually their experience is fear and misery. And that’s where it’s important to have support. You know, that if you are, if you have been avoiding going inside, it probably means that at some level it’s a survival mechanism for you to do that.
Serge Prengel (31m 13s):
So try to do that in a supportive environment, with friends, with a support group, with therapist, with some professional who can actually have an idea of what’s there, but not leave you alone with what is probably excruciating for you.
Christine Okezie (31m 32s):
Thank you. I think that’s such an important dimension. You know, a lot of folks struggling with anxiety, symptoms of anxiety, and I know that’s the worst thing, you know, just calm down, you know, and, and, and it’s, it’s the opposite reaction. It actually, you know, spurs even more anxious, anxiousness and despair. So I think it’s important to understand that. So we talk a lot about mindfulness and you mentioned a couple clear benefits. One is self-regulation so not being so emotionally reactive. We talked about habit change, you know, being able to make a choice more consciously so we can see, you know, what’s on the menu would be the best choice for us.
Christine Okezie (32m 18s):
A lot of folks, you know, in this space of habit, change, talk about lack of motivation. And you’ve written quite about, you know, self motivation and really what that is about. Can you weave some, you know, guidance on how does mindfulness help with self-motivation? What is self mode? What’s the true essence of self motivation from your perspective.
Serge Prengel (32m 40s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you know, we tend to think of motivation as something that’s like bright and shiny. You have some people who arrive, Hey bet, full of pep, you know, and I want to do this. And so, you know, this image of people who are so motivated, if you’re not, then you look at them and you say, oh, I’m like a different species. You know, I don’t have motivation. I don’t have what it takes act as if motivation were like being touched by a magic wand and then wow. You know, something amazing happened, but motivation is something essentially that is a function of being a human being that we only have that capacity, because what motivation means is having a sense of what we want and of how important it is for us to do it.
Serge Prengel (33m 35s):
So, motivation, I think is great to compare to, if you’re throwing a ball, to looking at the direction where you’re throwing a ball, if you look at the opposite direction, while throwing a ball, your aim is going to be pretty hard. If you know, clearly where you are wanting to throw the ball, then it’s going to improve your accuracy. And if you separate the idea of having goals from the idea of, you know, it’s really a felt goal, then you’re not playing with a full deck. So motivation is being in touch with what you want.
Serge Prengel (34m 16s):
We know what you’re really wants you really want. Right? And again, the image when people say that is, oh, there are some people who are blessed with the idea of knowing what they really want. I don’t. Okay. And you know, the reason that you don’t is because you’re encountering something painful, that’s an obstacle to it. Like for instance, you kind of cannot allow yourself to be fully conscious of what you want, because you’re afraid that it’s unattainable or you’re afraid that if you do it, there will be harmful consequences or you don’t trust yourself to be able to do it.
Serge Prengel (35m 1s):
You know? So all of these obstacles are painful. And so the finding motivation is actually something that’s most of the time, something that’s a challenging process, something that helps you or that you, you have to confront some things that are difficult for you. Okay. And you know, once you do, then you have that clarity, but you cannot have the clarity without facing the obstacles that are actually blocking you from having it.
Christine Okezie (35m 32s):
So help us explain self-sabotage from this perspective.
Serge Prengel (35m 39s):
Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, I mentioned the idea that, you know, you, you may want something, but there are obstacles, there are some things that make it difficult to do, you know, to, to get there or is there some fears? Okay. So essentially then you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. You know, there’s a part of you, that’s gonna go in there and it’s a stop and go process. You go, I want to go there. And if you go, it says, if you hit a wall and you bounce back to the other direction, and so, you know, then you retreat or you do the opposite of what you wanted.
Serge Prengel (36m 23s):
Okay. Because essentially, for instance, you want to, for argument’s sake, you want to go on a diet and you forced yourself to on a diet, the motivation is about, okay, I’m going to force it through will. And then, you know, something happens, it’s really difficult. You get, you hit an emotional roadblock, right? And so you bounce back in the other direction. And, and then you, you know, you have the coping mechanism of eating in order to, to compensate for that. And so having started from the direction of, I want to say, have a healthy diet, you find yourself doing the opposite. And so people would call that self-sabotaging.
Serge Prengel (37m 4s):
But the notion of self-sabotaging implies that you consciously are doing something to hurt yourself. That’s right. Whereas it’s really more of something that happens because you went in a inappropriate way. You went trying to do something through willpower instead of enforcing it, instead of trying to understand what the obstacles are in order to deal with them gently and in a sustainable way.
Christine Okezie (37m 30s):
Right. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a much more, I think, correct way to look at wanting to make a change in your life. Right. Cause it’s always like we get so focused on the outcome and we get so focused on the goal itself that we kind of skip a few steps is what I hear. You’re saying, you know, we kind of skip a few steps. You know, some people might call that, you know, what’s your big, why? Like, why do you really want to lose weight? Why do you really want to start eating healthier? Right. And I would say in my work, and you probably feel the same, I’ve discovered because people associate whatever the goal is that you associated with. When I have that, I’ll feel X, usually it’s more confident or more happy.
Christine Okezie (38m 16s):
Right. And I always in the work, it’s really interesting to say, well, why do we do that? You know? And like, why do we say that my happiness, my confidence, my, whatever, my enoughness is, is goal tied to an outcome that’s outside there. Right. Because it’s sort of a, it’s a non-starter. So, so you’ll feel crappy. You do it. You know what I mean? It doesn’t help the, all the steps you need to do, you know, the action that you need to take, you know, to do that. So if I want to make a change, which rationally says, it’ll, it’ll make my life better, but I feel terrible now, how do I feel good now? So that I can take that feeling good as a source of true motivation to get what I want.
Christine Okezie (38m 60s):
How do, how do you help people do that shift internally?
Serge Prengel (39m 4s):
Yeah. So I think that’s really the, the, the key thing there is that in order to that shift is difficult and counter intuitive are we’re accustomed to thinking in terms of I do this, I get this result and it’s linear. And it goes one way. And this is kind of a circuitous process, which is, you know, like the whole concept of process is they’re loops. And, you know, there there’s all kinds of stuff happening. It’s not just, oh, eat less than, you know, and feel better and become confident.
Serge Prengel (39m 45s):
You know, there’s all kinds of stuff. And so it’s really thinking in terms of process, as opposed to thinking in terms of immediate thing, it’s also thinking in terms of it, because it’s a process that you’re going to be uncovering. If you have difficulty getting to the goal, it means that you’re encountering things that are overwhelming for you. And so chances are, you’re not going to be able to do it on your own. And it’s. And so of course, you know, the therapist and helpers coaches, but also support groups, you know, so it’s not about trying to say, you always, absolutely need to see a professional, but simply some humility about saying, you know, it’s been difficult for you to do that.
Serge Prengel (40m 30s):
So face the reality that it’s difficult and that in order to deal with something that is difficult, you’re going to need help and support and, and organize the support around yourself to do that. Because otherwise what’s going to happen is you’re going to continue proving to yourself that you can’t do it. And it’s going to become harder and harder.
Christine Okezie (40m 54s):
I love, that’s a huge thing for us to sort of say, you know, I’m having difficulty with something, but it’s not because I’m broken. It’s not because I’m fatally flawed. And therefore, you know, if I can get off my, get off feeling like that, then I can maybe invite some resources, like you said, you know, and receive help and receive support. I mean, this is also a, a way to look at our challenges, I think, is to see them as opportunities to work with our challenges to get underneath them. Right. It’s not just, oh, our challenges are, these things are in the way. It’s actually those obstacles, those difficult, those fears that becomes, I think the work that becomes the opportunity, you know, to, to make the change from that level.
Serge Prengel (41m 40s):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, that’s great when you put it that way, because then if you conceptualize it this way, then you can have, you can find little benchmarks that are attainable and that become steps that give you a reward. Like for instance, the first thing is to say, okay, so if you’re not able to do this, it means you’re going to need help. And so you’re going to start talking about it to people. And so you overcome that first obstacle, which is to keep it to yourself and hide it. But you start talking about it to friends and, oh, well first milestone. Oh, I have found somebody who wants to do this process with me.
Serge Prengel (42m 23s):
Wow, great new milestone. Okay. You haven’t really started on doing anything, but you’re already starting to do some things and you let yourself be aware of how you’re progressing and reaching those little milestones, which then give you some momentum to keep going.
Christine Okezie (42m 42s):
I love that. And then, then, so when it comes to fear, that keeps us stuck, right? Yeah. Walk us through, you know, body fullness and why fear, you know, how, how working with our felt sense can really help us heal the fear, neutralize it, you know, not become so over identified with it.
Serge Prengel (43m 4s):
Yeah. So I want to first start with saying, I have a very healthy respect for fear. So the idea is not to banish fear. That fear is something, you know, basically we’re here, you and I and everybody else, because our ancestors had fear and our ends, you know, those, those primitive forms that did not have fear did not survive. So sheer is really super important. It’s not a question of ignoring fear, but it’s a question of, of understanding it. You know, fear is a physiological way in which, you know, we are warned of things that could be dangerous now in a civilized world.
Serge Prengel (43m 51s):
A lot of things that we feel fear about are not necessarily dangerous. So if we get a sense of a due diligence to say, I have this notion of fear, but I’m going to examine whether or not it is actually dangerous. And if it’s not as dangerous as it first feels like how I’m going to stay present with it while also feeling the fear. So not about banishing the fear, but training yourself to feel the fear we’re realizing it’s not dangerous. So that reprograms your brain and your whole body fullness to say, I can experience fear and it’s okay.
Serge Prengel (44m 36s):
But you know, this is a situation where in a way it’s like the smoke alarm is ringing, but it doesn’t mean there’s a fire. It just means that there’s a, you know, there’s a little bit smoke going on. That’s not dangerous, you know, and, and you don’t want to kill the smoke alarm, you know, but you want to learn to calibrate the information you have, because if you want to try, you know, if you want to cut yourself off from your fear, then you no longer have the information, the felt sense information, you know, that is so useful.
Christine Okezie (45m 9s):
I love that.
Serge Prengel (45m 9s):
Thank you. So you don’t cut off the inner information, but you learn to use it in a way that helps you accomplish what you want.
Christine Okezie (45m 17s):
Brilliant. Okay. And that inner information again is in that sensory experience of our body fullness of the body. Yeah. Key distinction. That’s wonderful. So if I could ask, you know, what’s, what’s, what’s something that’s happening in the world right now that, you know, you kind of feel would maybe offer strategy. There’s a lot of emotional reactivity. There’s a lot of heightened stress and worry and you know, how do I deal with, you know, tomorrow’s uncertainty, right? What is something that, you know, what’s a strategy or maybe some wisdom that you would like to put out there and have permeate this level of fear that is running today.
Serge Prengel (46m 6s):
Yeah. So yeah. I like the way you asked the question, including that you, you mentioned everything that’s happening in fear, you know, in the same question because of the first part is to realize that a lot of what’s happening is related to fear and that the uncertainty brings fear and that everybody is experiencing fear differently. And we also experienced fear, not just in terms of our physiology and our personal capacity to deal with fear, but also because of cultural factors that lead us to imagine that there are answers to fear in this direction or that direction in this dogma or, and so, and, and, and that, you know, what also happens with fear is it rigidified as us.
Serge Prengel (47m 1s):
So that concept of being at loggerhead with people, you know, because of the intensity of the situation, the intensity of the stakes and the fear that is happening. So I think understanding how much fear is influencing. A lot of the things that are so difficult in our environment is very helpful. And then from there taking steps to, to lessen the impact of the fear. So not to eliminate fear, but to act in a way that acknowledges that there is fear.
Serge Prengel (47m 41s):
So, you know, I don’t say I’m not naively believing that you go to people who are, who believe the polar opposite of what you want and open your arms. And they suddenly see the light. You know, unfortunately I, it’s not my experience. If somebody can do it, they certainly don’t. But within people who are closer to you, you know, you’re an agent of not festering in fostering fears, but of calming down. So, and calming down does not mean disarming. You know, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be fought for and to be achieved, but, you know, fostering more calm is actually fostering the possibility of having more resources to effectively address problems.
Christine Okezie (48m 32s):
Well said. Exactly, exactly. It’s a capacity in the crease, increased resourcefulness. I think that’s so the turning within the act of pause, right. I’m going into the emotion and the, and the feeling of the emotion with greater felt sense, you know, greater, you know, like what’s happening. This is really key. What do you think of meditation? You know, we, it’s such a like mindfulness, you know, there’s, there’s all kinds of flavors out there, but what do you, and again, weaving this in and out of your work, you know, what works for you? What do you like to share? What are some go-to strategies around meditation?
Serge Prengel (49m 13s):
So meditation is wonderful. You know, generally it’s something that’s been time tested for thousands of years, you know, as something that people have done in order to find in themselves the capacity to know themselves better, you know, in a, in an experiential way. So I would generally, I’m very positive about meditation. I think the two quality failures that I would have is for some people, meditation is the same as mindfulness and put the two together as if meditation was the only form of mindfulness.
Serge Prengel (49m 53s):
And I don’t think that’s the case, there’s other forms. Yes. The other thing is that for some people, meditation is difficult because it brings up all kinds of obstacles. And so then that sense of, if I’m not able to do meditation, then there’s something wrong with me or maybe the way to address it is force it through and icing. That’s really terrible to do that. You know, that, you know, you may not be able to do the particular form of mindfulness practice that is meditation or, or, or given a meditation technique, but go with what it is you can do to know yourself better to confront, you know, the obstacles that are in the way of you doing meditation, for instance, and then you might come back to it in a different way.
Serge Prengel (50m 46s):
And that’s where, again, the, the building block for me is active pause to say, you know, before you do anything else, take the habit of taking a pause and having that curiosity about going inside. And you do that, then it takes them, you know, a minute it takes moments. And then, you know, as you get to know that better, then you expand it in all kinds of ways in meditation, but also in conscious movement in all kinds of ways. And you develop your ability to be present with yourself, you know, which is the building block of being a happier person.
Christine Okezie (51m 23s):
Well said, I love that. Is there anything else Serge, maybe that I didn’t ask that you’d like, want to share with us, maybe there’s a personal mantra, favorite quote, you know, resource that, you know, you want to share with our listeners,
Serge Prengel (51m 39s):
But maybe something else that I would add is a related to your other question about all that’s going on in the world and fear and notion of suffering. You know, that, you know, we all have ways in which we are affected by circumstances and with suffering. What comes very naturally to us as human beings is to feel like we’re suffering more than others and, and have a center, you know, and, and kind of fold within ourselves or a small group, a little tribe. And, and I think that there is something really wonderful is to think of the experience of suffering, of having difficulty as something that can forge common links with other people who have different forms of suffering, different forms of challenges and, you know, finding a way that it unifies us instead of separating us.
Christine Okezie (52m 33s):
Hmm, absolutely good wisdom there. A lot of, you know, a lot of Buddhism science, Buddha science along that line, right? It’s like, that’s certainly one thing we all have in common is the collective, because we all want to be free of suffering. Right. That’s it, it cuts all across all boundaries. And, and so to your point, and I think I’m hearing this is that it’s a beautiful, very powerful practice to work on ourselves, to get to know ourselves to your point, if it is the building block of happiness and it starts here, it definitely has. It’s a beautiful contribution to the collective, right? Because if we can have better sense of self, less fear running in our body mind, and if we were all to do the active pause, well, you know, my vision, I hold the vision that one day active ponds will be the, you know, the go-to setting for us as a collective and what a different world that might create might not be in my lifetime.
Christine Okezie (53m 32s):
Maybe my kid’s lifetime. I’m not sure. Wow. That’s a game changer. No. Okay, great. Well, is there anything that you have any special events or information that you’d like to, you know, have our listeners go to, to find out more about your work, what you’re working on? You have some great books out there. I’m going to put all that in there, but
Serge Prengel (53m 56s):
No, I mean, just so usually I have a newsletter on the Active Pause website and anybody who is interested in what’s happening, you know, can subscribe to the newsletter.
Christine Okezie (54m 7s):
Yes. And you also have a podcast search, so please, and tell us about that.
Serge Prengel (54m 10s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yup. So I like to talk with people that just like you would feel as nice to exchange information. It’s really, it feels good to, to have different perspectives, different points of view, what feels, you know, it’s not just not just, there’s not one way to do things, but we get inspired as we listen to different perspectives and then we can form our own based on, you know, what we understand from different perspectives.
Christine Okezie (54m 38s):
Thank you so much. Well, thank you again for your time and all the work that you do. It’s really been a pleasure to get to know you.
Serge Prengel (54m 44s):
Same here, Christine.
Christine Okezie (54m 46s):
Thank you. Thank you. Bye-bye.