Jewel: It lends itself to mental health for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is anonymity. Because you have an avatar, and it’s a live person, you just have an avatar. The anonymity is really causing people to feel much more safe psychologically. And we’re seeing adoption from groups that traditionally don’t adopt easily into mental health care.
My favorite meditation is actually one that I guided. It’s called . . . The Tree of Life meditation. It’s a guided meditation where I invite people to come in and it’s an incredible unwinding process where you get to feel really supported and I talk about [how] you don’t have to be a mom here or a dad or a parent or a child or an employee and taking off all of those roles and just having a moment to let your nervous system relax.
I think one of the best things for me that’s a non-negotiable is, I do meditate every day. Whereas before it would be every other day or when I needed it, or if I was having a panic attack, I would double down again, on my meditation. Being consistent has made a huge difference in my life.
Learning that every thought, feeling, or action takes you in or out of one of your nervous system responses. So, every thought, feeling, or action is going to lead you into a sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system response. And so, noticing every time you’re contracted, tight, anxious, noticing those body cues, and then keeping a journal of, “What was just thinking, feeling or doing?” Don’t try to change it, just write them down.
Then every time you’re relaxed, or dilated, or open, or calm, keep a journal of, “What was I thinking, feeling, doing?” And what you’re going to have after a month is an actual blueprint to your specific nervous system. And you can’t be in two states at once. And you can force yourself out of a dysregulated nervous system state by participating on something on your list of what calms you and what gets you back into that parasympathetic nervous system. And it’s a really simple skill. We teach it to kids. Everybody’s able to do that. That one thing really changed my life.
Yeah, I think it’s really important. What caused dysregulation for me in my system is very unique [and] . . . what’s going to cause you to dysregulate is really unique. And so, getting people to know that they can participate, and are going to have so many more answers of how to personalize it [is key]. I can teach you the general tool of keeping a diary of what dilates and what contracts you, but those lists are going to be very personal to you and we need you to be involved. You’re going to do more for your mental health than somebody can do guessing it for you. And so that type of self-personalization and participation creates much better effects.
I think what you’re saying about it being the right time is critical, because we all use willpower, right? It’s [about] control. Trying to control outcomes. So we’re willpower experts, quite frankly. It’s just that we’re used to exerting it in ways to try and create safety in a way that, frankly, is out of our control.
So, when we’re constantly trying to control our environment, control what people are saying, control everything around us, that’s hypervigilance. And it’s a coping mechanism to keep ourselves safe, which I understand. I’m like, an expert in it. I spent my life doing it. But sadly, there’s not a great return.
When I realized that instead of using my willpower to try and control the uncontrollable, and realizing that I don’t get to choose how life changes [but] I do get to choose how it changes me . . . I started to use my willpower in a very different way.
One of the things that, for me, helped me give myself a bit more softness around it was that, nobody was kind to me in my childhood. How was I suddenly going to magically be kind to myself? That doesn’t happen. That’s not how we work neurologically. You know, we learn, our brains are pattern-matchers and . . . our mirror neurons help a lot. If you can get around other compassionate people, if you can see other people with good self-talk, who give themselves grace, watching [that], it really helps, because our mirror neurons are really going to help us out.
I don’t really listen to music. It’s a funny thing about me. I never did growing up either. I guess maybe because I was raised without electricity. We didn’t really have a radio or a television and it just wasn’t a habit that I built. But if I’m very emotional, I write. And so I think that’s why I became a writer. It’s just what I turned to. I guess it was writing my own soundtrack, to soothe me. So songs like “Angels Standing By” are things that I created for myself when I had anxiety.
For me, writing is the seasoning of life. If I’m sad, I’ve learned that if I come closer to the feeling, the feeling changes. That’s actually why disassociation and repression don’t work. If there’s an aspect of our personality, or even just anxiety, and we try to disassociate ourselves from it, nothing can change in isolation. Something has to be in relation to something else for it to change, even just on a chemical level. And so what I learned was that if I was anxious and I wrote, it brought me closer to it, it made me curious, and then it could start to transform.
Happiness was the same way. Happiness would become more happy if I wrote a poem or if I became really present. So writing for me was the most profound practice in mindfulness, in being present, and being aware of what I was processing.
The best revenge is a life well lived. It isn’t becoming bitter to where you can’t process and enjoy love and life. And so that gives you a heavy job, but it is your job and it’s where you have tremendous power in very powerless situations.
There’s a beautiful Navajo proverb that says the obstacle is the path. And when . . . I was nine, I learned that the buffalo is the only animal that heads into the heart of the storm because the quickest way is through. And so [that became] . . . my phrase, which is one of my antidote thoughts: Be the buffalo. Move directly to it. The quickest way is through. The quicker I can look at it, get curious about it, the quicker I can help it transform and give it a direction.
Something that helps me . . . is the truth always wins. The truth is the truth. Pretending the truth isn’t the truth doesn’t make it not the truth, it delays you facing the truth. Now, sometimes finding healthy ways to delay or take things in small bites, [that’s] very healthy. Avoiding it altogether doesn’t make it not exist and you’re going to have to deal with it later. And you’re also going to probably have to deal then with a lot of coping mechanisms [that] you’re going to have to unwind just to get to it. So the truth is what happened. The truth is your body is going to hold that energy until you help that move.
It’s free . . . and it’s really easy to use. It’s as easy to use as Zoom . . . so anybody that can log on to Zoom can log into Innerworld. It does not take VR goggles. It’s very simple . . . and it’s also really safe. We have incredible monitoring around any kind of trolling or bullying. We have AI protocols that can help monitor those, as well as . . . live guides and so we’re a safe positive environment.