Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Training: Claudia's Experience

The below testimonial was written by one of our Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy learners, Claudia Bastien. Claudia is a breath work and cold exposure facilitator who applied her studies in this course to holistic healing - an indirect yet adjacent and highly applicable field of work for this certification. 

At the end of 2023, I completed my Fundamentals of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy (PAT) Training with Numinus.

To be honest, when I signed up for this training, my primary motivator was not to hold plant medicine sessions.

To be honest it still isn’t my motivator.

No, I choose to take on this training to expand my tool box in assisting and supporting individuals through altered states of consciousness that aren’t achieved by ingesting a psychedelic substance… but instead, altered states of consciousness that one can tap into via one’s own breath and body… through breath work and cold exposure therapy.

After 3 years of guiding cold exposure and utilizing breath to help individuals to regulate their own nervous systems… I’ve seen first hand the sheer power that breath and cold water can have on an individual. After 7yrs of my own practice, I know first hand the impacts that these modalities have on the psyche. I have felt the psychedelic-like effects that wash over the body after a particularly good breath work or cold exposure session. The out of body feeling - the floating - the melting - the humming. The interoception of feeling one’s heartbeat, the circulation of the blood around the body - the lungs collapsing and expanding. The tingles. The sounds in the ears, the deafening silence, the ringing.

In my experience breath work & cold exposure therapy can lead to impactful psychedelic-like effects. Although short-lived in experience - the “downloads” one receives can be concentrated and intense.

It is all this that lead me to training with Numinus.

Here is what impressed me most during my 8-week long intensive.

Whether you are a licensed or unlicensed practitioner, I think anyone who works with individuals who enter altered states of consciousness could benefit on the knowledge expansion that you receive by taking the Fundamentals in PAT training.

It was a challenging 2 months, but I couldn’t recommend this training enough… and that’s my honest, unsponsored opinion.

Westernized Education Framework.

The training is set up within a westernized education framework. As someone who dedicated 10+ years of my career to working with postsecondary education - I highly value an education that makes me feel like I'm attending a recognized university.

Professional. Responsible. Accountable. 

With 2.5 hour pre-work modules, 3 hour live interactive sessions with Numinus practitioners (registered and practicing counselors & physicians), small group learning sessions, and interactive exercises with the class every week… for something as serious as guiding others through medicine journeys, I find peace in knowing that this course is challenging and demanding. After losing a loved one to an intricate mental health journey that was spurred by an intense plant medicine session, I was glad to see that Numinus takes the weight of training seriously.

Comprehensive Curriculum.

The volume of information divulged module to module was intense. I still can’t believe how much was covered in essentially 50 hours over 8 weeks. I learned new and innovative ways to make adjustments to the way in which individuals can prepare for their session, language that can be helpful in communicating boundaries and expectations, and best practices around supporting individuals through their unique integration journeys. Much to my delight, we talked at length about the Nervous System and how altered states of consciousness can benefit the regulation and reset of the NS. We covered medicine sessions, different medicines, case studies, practitioner self care, and so much more.

Click to learn more about our Fundamentals Course and the entire Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Certification Pathway.

Pride Month: Fostering Mental Health & Advocacy

Numinus Stands with the LGBTQ2+ Community

June 6th, 2023, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading LGBTQ+ advocacy group, declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States due to a surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, primarily targeting transgender Americans. In 2023 alone, legislators from 41 US states introduced more than 525 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, with 220 of them specifically aimed at transgender people. These bills encompass a wide range of measures, such as denying transgender students the right to participate in sports, restricting access to gender-affirming healthcare, and prohibiting transgender individuals from using certain bathrooms.

Statistics derived from the Trevor Project's 2023 National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People reveal alarming figures. Within the past year, nearly 50% of transmen, transwomen, and nonbinary/genderqueer youth aged 13-25 seriously contemplated suicide, while over 20% of transgender young individuals attempted suicide. The survey also uncovered that rates of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, depression, and anxiety among LGBTQ+ youth are two-to-three times higher compared to cisgender, heterosexual peers. The adverse effects of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation directly impact the mental health of queer youth.

We are currently facing an unprecedented mental health crisis within the LGBTQ2+ community. Without decisive and meaningful action, the social and political climate in the United States will continue to jeopardize the health and well-being of queer individuals. As a queer healthcare provider myself, I am devastated and appalled by the ongoing threats to the basic rights of queer people in our country. This Pride Season, it is my hope that mental health providers and organizations will reflect on how we can further advocate for and support the LGBTQ2+ community. Mere symbolic gestures, such as flying flags or posting on social media, will not suffice. We require fundamental and structural changes that permeate every aspect of mental healthcare, including the creation of affirming patient-care spaces and the elevation of queer voices in decision-making processes within institutions. The choices we make today will have a direct impact on the mental health outcomes of LGBTQ2+ individuals for generations to come.

At Numinus, we are committed to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ2+ community. We prioritize creating a space where individuals of all gender identities and sexual orientations feel respected, affirmed, and free from discrimination. We strive to ensure that our services are accessible, sensitive, and tailored to meet the diverse needs of the LGBTQ2+ community. To our LGBTQ2+ clients and fellow providers, please know that you are seen, valid, and indispensable. Each of you brings unique contributions to this world that no one else can replicate, and together, we collectively enhance the beauty of this world.

 

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources

If you require emergency support or assistance, please reach out to the available support networks:

 

Written by Dr. Deven Jennings DNP, PMHNP-BC, APRN

Meet Cory Cooperman: Clinic Director in Montreal

Technology, Tools, and Changing Lives For The Better

 

Meet Cory, Clinic Director for Numinus in Montreal! Cory's dedication as Clinic Director provides transformative psychedelic-assisted therapies to those seeking healing and growth.

We recently sat down with Cory and discuss his role at Numinus, his passion for psychedelics and mental health, and his invaluable advice for anyone considering a career in this groundbreaking field.

What brought you to Numinus?

I came to Numinus as part of the Mindspace acquisition in February 2021. I was eager to join a company so aligned with our mission and values, pushing forward at the cutting edge of mental health care services.


Could you describe your role in 1-2 sentences?

As Clinic Director for Numinus in Montreal, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the clinic spaces in Montreal by managing the Care Coordinators and Personal Health Navigator, recruiting new practitioners (e.g., therapists, nurses, doctors), and administering our electronic medical record, billing and client scheduling system. Ultimately, when it comes to turning new programs into reality, such as our new Group Ketamine-Assisted Therapy pilot project, I am the lead in making sure everything is taken care of.


How do you act in service to yourself to make your mental health a priority?

I am blessed with a partner who happens to be a psychologist, as well as extensive training myself as a therapist, and it all starts with a strong work/life balance. I love to use technology (like Focus Modes in iOS) to help me maintain good work/life balance.


What do you love about Numinus?

I love the feeling of making a difference that comes from being part of Numinus, which is strongly felt when you connect with your co-Numis during meetings and see brilliant, caring people coming together to solve problems.

 

What inspires you the most about the field of psychedelics and mental health? 

I have concretely seen the difference mental health care, provided in a timely and evidence-based fashion, can make. It changes lives for the better, and there’s nothing more rewarding than that.

 

What has been the most transformative experience in your career so far?

I have been lucky to enough to get to transition from being a student therapist to someone who gets to enable practitioners in the field to do their very best for their clients. It brought me full circle, back to my roots in technology and management, while still getting to use my knowledge gained during my clinical training.

 

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in your field?

Curiosity is your best tool, and if you approach challenges with a genuine openness to learning something new, even if you don’t solve a particular problem, you’ll come away with something that will help you the next time around.

 

Interested in joining the Numinus team? Check out all of our open roles HERE.

 

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Technologie, Outils et Changer des Vies

Rencontrez Cory, Directeur de clinique chez Numinus à Montréal ! L'engagement de Cory en tant que directeur de clinique permet de proposer des thérapies assistées par les psychédéliques à ceux qui recherchent la guérison et la croissance.

 

Nous nous sommes récemment entretenus avec Cory pour discuter de son rôle chez Numinus, de sa passion pour les psychédéliques et la santé mentale, ainsi que de ses précieux conseils pour toute personne envisageant une carrière dans ce domaine révolutionnaire.

 

Qu'est-ce qui vous a amené à Numinus ?

J'ai rejoint Numinus dans le cadre de l'acquisition de Mindspace en février 2021. J'étais impatient de rejoindre une entreprise si alignée avec notre mission et nos valeurs, poussant vers l'avant à la pointe des services de soins de santé mentale.

 

Pourriez-vous décrire votre rôle en une ou deux phrases ?

En tant que directeur de clinique pour Numinus à Montréal, je supervise les opérations quotidiennes des espaces cliniques à Montréal en gérant les coordonnatrices de soins et le navigateurs de soins, en recrutant de nouveaux praticiens (p. ex. thérapeutes, infirmières, médecins) et en administrant notre système de dossier médical électronique, de facturation et de prise de rendez-vous. Enfin, lorsqu'il s'agit de concrétiser de nouveaux programmes, comme notre nouveau projet pilote de thérapie de groupe assistée par la kétamine, c'est moi qui veille à ce que tout soit mis en œuvre.

 

Comment se mettre au service de soi-même pour faire de sa santé mentale une priorité ?

J'ai la chance d'avoir un partenaire qui est psychologue, ainsi qu'une formation approfondie en tant que thérapeute, et tout commence par un bon équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée. J'aime utiliser la technologie (comme les modes de concentration dans iOS) pour m'aider à maintenir un bon équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée.

 

Qu'aimez-vous chez Numinus ?

J'aime le sentiment de faire la différence qui découle de mon appartenance à Numinus, sentiment qui est fortement ressenti lorsque vous vous connectez avec vos co-Numis pendant les réunions et que vous voyez des personnes brillantes et bienveillantes se réunir pour résoudre des problèmes.

 

Qu'est-ce qui vous inspire le plus dans le domaine des psychédéliques et de la santé mentale ?

J'ai vu concrètement la différence que peuvent faire des soins de santé mentale fournis en temps opportun et fondés sur des preuves. Cela change des vies pour le mieux, et il n'y a rien de plus gratifiant que cela.

 

Quelle a été l'expérience la plus transformatrice de votre carrière jusqu'à présent ?

J'ai eu la chance de passer du statut d’étudiant au doctorat en psychologie à celui de personne qui permet aux praticiens sur le terrain de donner le meilleur d'eux-mêmes à leurs clients. Cela m'a permis de boucler la boucle, de revenir à mes racines en matière de technologie et de gestion, tout en continuant à utiliser les connaissances que j'ai acquises au cours de ma formation clinique.

 

Quels conseils donneriez-vous à quelqu'un qui souhaite entamer une carrière dans votre domaine ?

La curiosité est votre meilleur outil, et si vous abordez les défis avec une réelle ouverture d'esprit pour apprendre quelque chose de nouveau, même si vous ne résolvez pas un problème particulier, vous repartirez avec quelque chose qui vous aidera la prochaine fois.

Vous êtes intéressé(e) à rejoindre l'équipe de Numinus ? Consultez tous nos postes ouverts ICI.

Reflections on Difficult Times and How Mindfulness Can Help

The last 6 months have been difficult for my family and me. In fact, I can’t recall another period in my life in which I felt so overwhelmed, depleted, and discouraged. Thankfully, the worst of it has past. I’ve since had time to reflect on this period and, in particular, how my mindfulness practice helped me cope. While much of what follows is an account of my personal experience, I believe the value of the practice as it is applied here is universal.

I’ll try to get you up to speed on what happened without boring you to death with the minutiae of my “first-world” problems: My wife and I live with our 2 little kids (M, 4 years old & G, 1.5 years old) in a condo in Montreal. Last spring, we discovered a significant mould infestation in our basement. The problem was so bad that it was compromising the structural integrity of our kitchen and bathroom floors (we were lucky the floor didn’t caved in while M & G were in the bath) and poisoning the air quality in our home. Imagine: G had been breathing this toxic air since she came home from the hospital at 2 days old! The upshot was that we had to: move out; hire specialists to decontaminate the crawlspace; rip out the floors; dig up our yard to fix the water infiltration problem; and then rebuild and refinish everything. To make matters worse, we had to pursue 3 separate lawsuits if we wanted to recoup the 6-figure costs of the job.

In the middle of all of this, I got some devastating news from my mother: her cancer relapsed. It had been under control for 3 years thanks to an amazing new drug, but sadly, the disease had progressed and the drug was no longer effective. We didn’t know how much longer she had to live.

I have learned over the years that when I’m processing emotion or feeling overwhelmed, the primary symptom is irritability. I am easily frustrated by minor setbacks and impatient with people around me. What I lived over the summer was the perfect storm of triggers for me in my vulnerable state: we moved in and out of 6 different homes, supported our children through the change, managed the financial burden of all the work on our home, had countless meetings with contractors and lawyers, all while having to process this troubling news about my mother’s health.

Because we moved around a lot over the summer, it was tough to keep track of our stuff. I’d go to the bathroom to shave before work, only to realize I’d left my shaving stuff in another bag at home; my daughter wanted to sleep with her 2nd favorite stuffed animal, but that one was in storage; my wife wants to charge her iPhone, but I forgot to pack it at the other apartment. On and on like this for 3 months. And each each of these little frustrations would infuriate me. I would tighten up, growl inside, and think (over and over again) “This is so irritating! I can’t deal with all this frustration! I can’t believe I have to buy yet another iPhone charger!” As you can imagine, my head was not a fun place to be.

In one of my more acute moments of discouragement, it occurred to me that the magnitude of these challenges superseded my capacity to practice and cope with them. So I looked for inspiration from Pema Chodron, whose books had helped me through difficult times in the past. I picked up Living Comfortably with Uncertainty and Change and was reminded of one of her most compelling theses: that moments of difficulty offer the best opportunities to deepen insight and wisdom.

According to Pema, when things don’t go according to plan – when things fall apart to use her phrase – we typically react with some form of resistance such as frustration, disappointment, sadness, or indignation. We are attached to having things the way we want them and all of these reactions involve emotionally doubling-down on the plans that have not worked out.

When things don’t go according to plan, we typically react with some form of resistance such as frustration, disappointment, sadness, or indignation

Rather than tightening our grip on what has already slipped away, Pema invites us to let go and relax into the “fundamental groundlessness of being.” That phrase is fancy spiritual jargon referring to the impermanent and unsatisfying nature of reality. The fact is that my desire to have my “stuff” in order is bound to be unsatisfied because “stuff” invariably falls out of order again. iPhone chargers get lost and found; the soothing presence of stuffed animals comes and goes; apartments floors rot and get rebuilt; relationships fall apart and come together; even human life itself arises and passes. So as long as we are attached to having things a certain way, we will inevitably experience that dissatisfaction. In Buddhism, this is called dukkha.

Most of us, myself included, can’t really help it. Our brains evolved to make us feel more at ease in familiar environments that are predictable and under control. It requires more effort and energy to adapt to novel, unpredictable circumstances – and who knows what unknown threats lurk in the disorder? So adaptation to change is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, and depletion. Stretching beyond our evolutionary heritage and working skillfully with dukkha requires significant practice.

According to Pema, we can open up and ease into moments of frustration and stress. This practice begins with mindfulness. The idea is to drop into the moment-by-moment unfolding of an awareness that is not hooked or shaped by our preferences or judgements. The resistance itself can be used as an invitation to shift into openness and curiosity. In my case, that refers to the tightness in neck and shoulders, accelerating frustrated feeling, and racing thoughts about how my circumstances. Any of these elements could serve as a cue to stop and say “wow, resistance is here; let’s see what this is like.” At one level, this attitude disrupts the automatic habitual reactions of irritation and rumination and makes it possible to relate to the moment differently, such as with kindness and self-compassion. At a deeper level, it also opens the door to the experiential insight of impermanence, a deep and clear understanding that conditions change and sustainable well-being arises from a willingness to accept and work with what shows up.

We can open up and ease into moments of frustration and stress. This practice begins with mindfulness.

Of course, a lot of repetition and deliberate practice is required to move from a momentary insight to new way of being. And I have to admit I did fail to make this shift more often than I succeeded. But I do have one interesting experience to share.

One morning in the middle of the summer, I took my daughters out for a walk so my wife could catch up on sleep. The weather was lousy, but it hadn’t started raining yet and the kids needed to get out. So we went and had a reasonably good time. On the way back, the whining started: “I’m huuunnngry. I’m tiiiiirred. I don’t want to walk anymore, etc.” Shorty after that, it started pouring rain (obviously) and the whining escalated to crying.  Somehow, despite headache, fatigue, and own wet clothes, I managed to not react. I didn’t say or do anything except observe the moment unfolding. To be clear, this wasn’t an act of suppression or self-deception; there were simply no other “strategies” available to me aside from letting go of my preferences and working with what was present. After a minute or 2, the kids calmed down and walked along quietly. Then, the rain actually let up. And as we approached our home, I noticed a feeling of peaceful gratitude set in as the beauty of my surroundings registered, as well as a sense that everything was going to be ok.

For a brief moment I was attuned to the “fundamental groundlessness of being.” And as hard and complicated as that sounds, it actually involved little effort or technique – just slowing down and tuning in. So here is your invitation to try relaxing into those moments (big or small) when you’re feeling stuck in reactivity. It may help bring back intentionality and a deeper appreciation of impermanence.

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash

 

Supporting Healthy Performance: Four Pillars of Well-Being

Reconciling the apparent dilemma between performance and well-being

Why invest in workplace psychological well-being? Fostering psychological well-being at work is first and foremost simply the right thing to do as individuals at all levels are increasingly suffering. Also, individuals unleash the best of themselves when they are feeling safe, have a sense of purpose, and operate from a place of increased consciousness. It also happens to offer a competitive advantage and economic benefits over time, but this should only be a secondary reason.

At Numinus, we have defined four critical pillars related to the development of a healthier mind. We are convinced that mastering the following elements is the key to living more meaningful lives and unleashing one’s potential.

Pillar 1- Presence … Stabilize your mind

The mind has historically never been as solicited as it is today. Under stress, excessive busyness, and information overload, the mind increasingly defaults to unhealthy fight, flight freeze type of behaviors to deal with this complexity, often getting stuck in thoughts, trying desperately to avoid the uncertainty, the unpleasant, or the perceived threats.

Self-awareness is key to shift our unconscious mind and reactions to deliberate, meaningful, and value-based responses. This requires a desire to see reality for what it is, objectively, without judgment. We need to learn to settle our minds, to feel our body, name our emotions, and observe the stories that we tell ourselves to best avoid feeding them and getting lost in them.

This skillset is called presence or mindfulness. The practices behind this teach us to recognize our thoughts, notice our innate negative bias and the narratives that lead to conditioned reactions that no longer serve us.

Through practice, we learn that we are not our thoughts and they need not define us all the time. Our thoughts are simply mental models that have been shaped through experience and guide our actions, most often unconsciously if we are not made aware of them. As we learn to observe them, increase our level of consciousness, then suddenly we increase our options to best respond with the wiser version of ourselves.

Quieting the mind and self-observation are therefore foundational practices to liberate the hidden treasures that lie within us.

Pillar 2 – Act with intention

If we do not give direction to our thoughts and actions, we can naturally end up repeating undesired behavioural patterns and generate harmful narratives about ourselves. This can lead to a life dominated by judgment, blame, rumination, procrastination, or other thoughts which are certainly not where we objectively want to land.

The articulation of our inner compass therefore becomes essential to provide our mind with a readily available path forward. It is one thing to stabilize our minds, embrace stillness, and the present moment but as human beings, we also value purpose and going in the direction of what we deem as important to us.

Our minds will go in the direction of our dominant thoughts. If we are not clear about what that is, the mind will naturally shift back into a protective state, avoiding the unpleasant and repeating what it has always done. By no means are we suggesting we should never go there. Of course, we need to scan our environment to avoid the unpleasant things in life when possible. Experience and research however show us that we spend way too much time there and that we exaggerate the actual threats.

Especially in times of turbulence, excessive access to data, on-going change, and increasing demands, we need to take stock of what is meaningful and important to us. We must reaffirm our values and how we consciously wish to live our lives, beyond relieving short-term discomforts or gaining immediate but unsustainable pleasures.

The more explicit and accessible the optimal version of ourselves is, the more choices we will have once our emotions are under control. We need to train our minds to quickly have access to this internal compass to override our habitual thoughts and behaviours we choose to move away from.

Pillar 3 – emotional regulation through acceptance

Unfortunately, we as humans do not change so easily, as Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey explain so well in their book Immunity to Change. Insight, coupled with emotional agility are required to avoid falling back into old, inflexible, and limiting beliefs, patterns and behaviours, hardwired into our brains often after decades of conditioning.

This involves the development of “muscles” that allow us to observe our patterns, thoughts and reactions before or as they arise to ensure they are appropriate under the circumstances. We have all been conditioned by our past, whether these are beliefs that we are not enough of this or that, judgments about ourselves or others, a need to protect our self-image or identify, desires to please others and be seen. These and many more are often getting in the way of our values and our internal compass.

Our mind and body have gotten used to being who you have become. Unless you are clear about beliefs and behaviours that no longer serve you, then they will kick in naturally, especially when times are challenging, seeking out protection and comfort.

Learning to befriend beliefs and behaviours that are keeping us stuck in the past, is a learned skill. Alternatively, we tend to deny them, overly analyze them, numb them by seeking solace in immediate pleasures. We need to integrate all of what we are into one version of ourselves. Denial or avoidance strategies only serve to protect us but do not heal us. Only through acknowledging the presence of limiting beliefs, hurtful narratives about ourselves, and developing self-compassion can we slowly tame their impact and best focus on our desired path forward or internal compass.

Pillar 4- Connection with others

We can achieve all of the first pillars, focusing on our inner world, and dramatically improve our well-being. Going beyond our inner world and connecting to others is also crucial as we are also social beings. Studies clearly show that being surrounded by rich, secure, and harmonious interpersonal relationships is the factor most strongly correlated with well-being, including our longevity.

Historically this happened naturally. We lived, worked, and played with our trusted tribes. Today, however, we are increasingly disconnected from one another, distracted by the many things we believe we need to do, see and learn, leading to a continuous state of partial attention and independent living. We live in digital environments in which we connect with others indirectly through email, video conferencing, texts, Facebook, and other such distractions and numbing activities. This form of social isolation literally hurts. The neural footprint in the brain for physical pain is essentially the same as emotional pain such as social isolation. So the pain of social distancing and disconnection is actually seen as a threat by the mind and body.

It becomes important to develop empathy and compassion to not only strive but even to survive. Being around others allowed us to evolve into the human beings we are in 2020. We evolved from pack animals, needing to hunt, cooperate, effective problem-solving, love, and communication. These needs are still very present in humans.

There is chemistry behind social connexions. Studies show that oxytocin increases trust, generosity, empathy, pro-social behaviors, concern for others, builds, and strengthens social bonds. This social connection chemistry
makes your brain more efficient at noticing and understanding what other people are thinking and feeling, enhancing empathy and intuition. These quality connexions improve resilience, foster courage, dampen fear responses, suppress the fight, flight, freeze response.

Cultivating social connections can be supported by developing skill sets and reflexes on simple things such as mindful listening, practicing empathy, generosity, and having gratitude for those that surround us. To access these social skills, we however need to feel safe, aligned, and value such an important aspect of our lives. The four pillars of well-being are thus self-reinforcing and should all be cultivated in parallel.

May your well-being journey be one of patience, kindness, and increased happiness!

Well-Being Transformation in 2020

We need to stop seeing our humans as resources for the workforce and start supporting humans with resources to reach their full potential.

With the many challenges we are facing today, especially with this on-going COVID journey that is adding fuel to the fire, workforce disengagement is high and business models are increasingly challenged. As I wrote in a recent blog, our fears and insecurities are increasingly now becoming our worse enemy in these challenging times. When our mind is threatened, it is often cognitively limited, short-sighted and self-protective.  Our shift into survival mode rather limits our ability to be strategic and innovative.

After 30 years as a strategic planner and management consultant, I redirected my career to grow Numinus, dedicated to helping organizations navigate in these difficult times, increasing resilience and overall psychological well-being.

In 2019, I was interviewed to explain how mindfulness could help transform organizations. In early 2020, I co-authored an article in which we discussed the inroads that mindfulness has made in the work place.

Many organizations such as Sodexo, IA Financial Group, Alayacare, CBC, Ubisoft and many others, are currently experimenting with or adopting mindfulness practices to help support individuals deal with suffering and unleash potential.

At Numinus, we have been delivering well-being and mindfulness introductory sessions and in-depth learning journeys to all kinds and sizes of organizations over the last decade. During these sessions we explain through neuroscience how our minds are challenged and underutilized in today’s increasingly complex environment. More importantly, we provide strategies to exercise our minds in a similar way we have been training our bodies in the past.

Such awareness training is only a beginning as individuals and organizations are currently ill equipped to deal with today’s VUCA world. We are witnessing record levels of mental health issues such as increased stress, anxiety, poor sleep, depression, burnout, social disconnection and poor quality decision making.

Developing mindfulness with early adopters is a great start.  However, to truly adapt to our new environment, we need to take these initiatives yet one step further. We now need to go beyond developing individual competencies to developing an organizational culture that promotes, supports and exemplifies self-awareness, presence, self-regulation, purpose and compassion for others, shifting from intent to actual transformation.

The time has come to develop psychological well-being as a strategic competency to deliver a competitive and sustainable advantage, and more importantly to bring human beings at the core of our organizations.

A structured approach needs to be deployed, tailored to the organization’s well-being maturity level, employee needs, existing development programs, levers and barriers linked to the desired state of well-being.

Below is a typical process we go through to shift from developing psychological well-being from an individual and discretionary strategy to transforming the corporate culture to embrace new ways of being while doing.

Embracing new ways of being while doing

To survive and flourish in this evolving world, we need to stop seeing our humans as resources for the workforce and start supporting humans with resources to reach their full potential, while considering all stakeholders with whom they interact. This requires us to rethink and reengineer our systems, practices and rituals, built over past decades when humans where only at the service of productivity and shareholders.

Today’s workforce is younger, stretched, seeking balance and purpose. We urgently need to start realigning our organizations to bring back dignity, consciousness, presence and compassion if we wish to strive and evolve to this new era, full of challenges and promise for those who will adapt.

Workplace Evolution and the Well-Being of Employees

For 30 years, Carl Lemieux worked with executive teams on strategy, transformation and leadership at an international level.

In this interview, he shares his observations on workplace evolution and his recommendations for sustainable well-being in the workplace, such as:

Changes in organization
How does the pace in organizations today affect people?
How are people coping?
How can organizations adapt to these new challenges?
Are you interested in learning more about well-being opportunities in the workplace?

 

Why Is Mindfulness in the Workplace Important in 2019?

This is the first time in human history that our brains are so solicited, all the time, 24/7. No wonder most of us are so tired and overwhelmed.

In early 2018, Larry Fink, president of BlackRock Investments, with $6.8 trillion assets under management, mentioned in his annual newsletter to CEOs, “We are seeing a paradox of high returns and high anxiety. . . . To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”

As a 30-year practitioner of corporate strategy, transformation and leadership development, I have long hoped companies would head in this direction. And as a co-owner and managing partner of Numinus Well-being Center, which is dedicated to this vision, I remain optimistic. And yet I’ve also felt the heavy crosswinds in recent years. Business leaders are increasingly giving in to economic and workplace stress with a growing sense of urgency, resorting too often to short-sighted decision making rather than long-term stakeholder management.

Leaders and employees alike are feeling overwhelmed with information and the pace of change and societal demands. Until recently, they didn’t feel they had to remain attached at the hip to their mobile phones, checking email and texts, posting on social media, and staying on top of the overabundance of news and information⎯just to stay in the game.

Although people seem to be working harder than ever, research suggests otherwise. People just feel busier. Work just didn’t follow them home as easily.

It is not surprising that we are increasingly finding workplace disengagement, beyond 80% by most polls. The American Psychiatric Association identified a 35% rise in anxiety between 2016 and 2017 alone, translating into rising mental health costs, absenteeism and presenteeism.

“While business leaders are ideally strategic, responsible and conscious of their impact on society, a threatened mind is often cognitively challenged, defensive, short-sighted and self-protective.“
As the stress and pace of work life increase, people tend to naturally shift into survival mode rather than into the strategic and innovative mindsets needed to nurture and sustain performance. While business leaders are ideally strategic, responsible and conscious of their impact on society, a threatened mind is often cognitively challenged, defensive, short-sighted and self-protective. These are not the qualities people hope to see in the leaders shaping our world.

A Shift in the Workplace
As a management consultant, I’ve been witnessing this gradual shift by busy executives, who used to find time for strategic reflection, leadership development and management by walking around and other forms of space and perspective taking. Today, though, they are facing a world in which business leaders are often on call 24/7, overtaken by never-ending to-do lists, incoming messages, management systems that are constantly churning out performance objectives, and action plans that are increasingly focused on short-term imperatives/ The result? These executives are left with little time for real human-to-human interactions and space to refresh their brain.

“These executives are left with little time for real human-to-human interactions and space for them to refresh their brains.“
Years of research in productivity have shaped organizations and society for making significant gains in efficiency, effectiveness and the accumulation of goods, services and wealth. Unfortunately, these gains are too often to the detriment of well-being, purpose and happiness.

Fears and insecurities linked to an overstimulated environment are now management’s worse enemy because such conditions shape an employee’s decision-making processes, the quality of his interpersonal connection and his own self-preservation. The brain simply has not evolved to keep pace with this constant level of activation. Sure, people can handle it all for a while, but eventually they need a break, and, for many, such breaks are increasingly difficult to take. When you think about it, it’s the first time in human history that the brain is so solicited, with very little time and space to recover. No wonder most people are so tired and overwhelmed at times.

“Fear and insecurity linked to an overstimulated environments are now management’s worse enemy… The brain has not evolved to keep pace with this constant level of activation.“
I believe an inflexion point is at hand as a new generation of workers starts to resist this trend. They rightfully expect to be listened to, to collaborate, to be engaged in a higher purpose, to be aligned with their values and to find balance in their lives.

Fortunately, new business models such as Conscious Capitalism and B Corps are gaining in popularity in response to decades Economic Value doctrines. Increasingly, analysts, investors and leaders are realizing that their business models need fixing as they reach unsustainable growth with its related social impacts. The good news is that research is showing that these new business models happen to generate higher returns in the longer term, up to 10 times by some accounts.

But to sustain high levels of consciousness and mindfulness, a leader must avoid being handicapped by a cluttered, threatened mind. Conscious, mindful leaders need to develop mindful qualities such as being fully present, nonjudgmental and open to revisiting existing paradigms. Leaders with great responsibilities need to maintain focus and clarity when making their most important decisions, access creativity when transforming their organizations, show care for their customers, create psychologically safe environments for employees and act with courage to maintain their alignment with values and purpose.

Those leaders who develop these qualities are beginning to see a competitive edge. Of course, a brilliant strategy and flawless execution will continue to serve as a strong foundation for organizations.

“Beyond KNOWING and DOING, the next competitive edge will be around self-awareness and BEING.“
So beyond KNOWING and DOING, I believe the next competitive edge will be around self-awareness or BEING, which means business leaders will:

Respond with intentionality rather than react on autopilot;
Manage their minds to best process information overload;
Recognize their beliefs and their triggers that affect decision making\Be connected to their values and purpose to serve as a compass;
Access clarity of mind to make wiser decisions;
Feel safe and grounded enough to manage with compassion, curiosity and openness.
Mindfulness
Supported by research, mindfulness is rapidly gaining in popularity in corporations as a form of mind training to help deal with the pace and complexity of modern life. This training develops the notion of BEING and responding wisely rather than reacting from a place of perceived threat or fear.

So what is mindfulness exactly? It is often described as being in the present moment by choice to overcome automatic responses or reactivity. It helps reduce mind wandering, which has a negative bias in perceiving the world and thus increases stress and reduces happiness. Mindfulness includes contemplative practices such as meditation, but it can be integrated as well into daily activities such as mindful walking, eating and listening to cultivate focus, attention and other forms of emotional regulation.

“Supported by research, mindfulness is rapidly gaining in popularity in corporations as a form of mind training to help deal with the pace and complexity of modern life.“
Increasingly, executive teams, lawyers, health care providers, armed forces and sport teams have embraced mindfulness practices, thereby unleashing untapped potential and increasing their well-being. Meanwhile, many organizations are now implementing strategies to develop mindfulness, targeting critical mindsets and skills such as focus, self-awareness, resilience and well-being. And yet these mind management concepts remain innovative and foreign to many. It’s best then that organizations take small steps to first socialize the concept and get the necessary buy-in to help shape a new organizational culture.

Mindfulness and stress management are not rocket science, but they can seem counterintuitive at first as the mind is taught to slow down, increasingly remain in the present, refrain from judgment and explore rather than reject challenging emotions or situations.

Training the mind thus takes time and investment because mindsets, habits and behaviours are challenging to modify. There is fortunately both a need and an appetite to revisit how the mind works and can be best managed to first serve oneself, organizations and societies. This requires commitment, patience and curiosity. The benefits are well worth the investment. I wish you a wonderful discovery moving forward!

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Episode 10: Cannabis and Mental Health with Dr. Claude Cyr

I would very much hope that the Canadian and the provincial governments would stop pussyfooting around, and start giving some real and concrete advice on how to use cannabis responsibly.

Dr. Claude Cyr is a family physician in practice for over twenty years and a part-time lecturer at the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University and an associate researcher for the Quebec Cannabis Registry. He has extensive experience prescribing medical cannabis to patients and is widely considered a pillar of the medical cannabis community.

In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention to legalize cannabis. One year later, Claude created Doctors for Responsible Access (DRA), a not for profit association of doctors and nurse practitioners whose mission is to protect the health of all Canadians by advocating for an informed medical perspective on cannabis legalization.

In this conversation, Claude shares his level-headed, informed, and nuanced views on the benefits and drawbacks of legalization of cannabis.

Joe and Claude discussed:

The medical uses of cannabis
The potential benefits and drawbacks of cannabis on mental health
How to responsibly use cannabis
How parents should talk to their teenagers about using cannabis
The medical potential of psychedelics
If you have any concerns about your own or loved ones’ consumption of cannabis, please reach out to Numinus and one of our experts can help you figure it out. If you are a physician and would like more information on DRA, please visit: https://doctorsforresponsibleaccess.com Dr. Joe would love to hear your questions, ideas, and stories on the topic, so please write to him on Facebook or Twitter.

And if you think this episode would be meaningful to anyone you know, please share it. We’d like as many people as possible to be informed about these issues to ensure safe and responsible consumption and prescription.

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Here are some highlights of the conversation with Claude:

3:45 Who are you and what do you do?

4:00 How did you get into the medical cannabis space?

5:00 What was it about your meeting with Dr. Ware that convinced you that there might be something there?

5:32 What can you tell us about the state of the science on using cannabis as a medicine?

The sad part is that because of prohibition, and because of the fact that most of the science comes out from of the United States, we’re just at the beginning right now of where the science should be.

If I was going to put a number on it, I’d say we know about one percent of what the therapeutic potential of cannabis is. We know that there are hundreds of cannabinoids. No, there’s at least a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis. Only two of which are actually being researched clinically right now: THC and CBD. And there are probably half a dozen cannabinoid receptors.

The only one we really know about is the CB-1 receptor in the central nervous system. So right now the science is pretty good in terms of the CB-1 receptor and THC.

But if we want to look at the science for the hundred and ten other cannabinoids and the other half dozen receptors, we’re just at the beginning. So when it comes to pain, muscle spasms, and nausea, and all of the other symptoms that respond to THC, it’s starting to look pretty good. But the rest–well, we’ll talk in 5 or 10 years, and I’ll tell you about it.

6:47 What are the guiding principles for prescribing cannabis?

8:28 I think that the middle ground area is what you try to stake out with the non-profit you started, Doctors for Responsible Access.

9:28 So what did you learn?

10:57 Have you ever had to work through this level of uncertainty or lack of information in dealing with certain conditions or medication?

13:19 What’s all the excitement about cannabis? Why is there so much research going on? Why are doctors so passionate about it? Why are you so passionate about it?

When I first started medical school back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, we didn’t even know there was an endocannabinoid system. The receptors were only discovered in the early 1990s. We’ve always known that there were these orphan receptors in the body. Receptors we’d find on cells, but we didn’t know which ligand or which product actually connected to them.

And lo and behold, we’re realizing that a lot of these receptors, almost half a dozen, if not more now, are endocannabinoid receptors. So the cannabinoids, whether they are endocannabinoids or external cannabinoids, they interact with these receptors.

And they’re everywhere in the body. So we know that these receptors are in the brain, they’re in the liver, the lungs, kidneys, the reproductive system, the skin, bones, bone marrow. So for the time being, what’s exciting is that there are these receptors everywhere, and we know that cannabinoids interact with them. And there are over a hundred different cannabinoids in cannabis.

14:51 You said that there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. But why does that mean that it has the potential to be therapeutic?

16:04 Is it possible that the impact of the molecule binding with the receptor could be negative?

17:20 As you know I’m a psychologist and I’ve been monitoring my clients and the trends in consumption of cannabis in my community. It’s incredible to me how little we know about the impact of cannabis use on mental health. I also see a lot of clients smoking to self-medicate for anxiety. What’s your take on that?

19:32 In my experience, I wouldn’t say that people are saying to themselves, ‘I feel anxious, and this is a substance that helps me with that.’ It just becomes a habit because there is some temporary relief.

20:12 What about cannabis’ interaction with antidepressants? 21:13 What about the risk for psychosis?

23:39 Another thing that I see a lot in my practice is that people who smoke a lot have difficulty with motivation and some cognitive functioning as well. Is that just me?

24:25 What about cannabis’ impact on motivation?

25:47 Is cannabis addictive?

26:45 Can cannabis have any detrimental effects on sleep?

28:26 What about using cannabis to help people with PTSD?

31:00 What about depression?

32:23 CBD, one of the active compounds in cannabis, is receiving a lot of attention. What’s the difference between THC and CBD?

35:02 And what about the difference between CBD and THC when it comes to the subjective experience of the high itself?

35:35 I’ve heard people talk about two different types of plants: Sativa and Indica. Is there a real difference between the two?

37:27 Do set and setting have a big impact on the subjective experience of the high? And a related question, to what extent does the expectation of the high you’re going to get make a difference? I remember learning in grad school that more than any other drug, what you experience after consuming cannabis depends on what you expect to happen.

39:52 There are all these different ways to consume cannabis now: edibles, smoking, drinks, oils, all with different concentrations of THC. I know there are these famous stories of gummy bears in Colorado that are really dangerous. What can you tell us about these different forms of consumption?

43:17 That is a big concern. When we were talking the other night, you referred to this Tsunami of important cultural changes that were happening since legalization. So let’s get into that now. Why is cannabis legal? What’s the history of legalization? How did we get here?

44:55 What are you expecting in terms of the public consuming cannabis?

47:30 We know that with alcohol that one drink is a glass of wine, an ounce and a half of liquor, or a beer. But what is a dose of THC?

I’m asking you Joe. What is a dose of THC?

Well, we’re all in real trouble if you’re asking me here [laughs].

So you should know. We should know. Everyone should know what a dose of THC is. But we don’t know what a dose of THC is.

We can surmise about what the experience–for example, in Colorado and Oregon and Washington, when they first legalized and they started seeing hospital admissions shooting up, people becoming completely psychotic, they said, ‘Oh. Wait a second. Maybe it’s a dose thing here going on’ because people were buying chocolate bars with a thousand milligrams of THC and you had a hundred milligrams in a gummy bear for example. Which is a massive dose for somebody who has never consumed anything.

But when you look at a gummy bear, it looks so benign. It looks so friendly. But a couple of hours later, that person is locked down in a gurney in an emergency room.

So if you look at what happened in Colorado after the first initial years of legalization, and the problems they had with emergency rooms and psychosis, they came out with public campaigns that actually warned, not only the people from Colorado, but the tourists that were coming in to start with a maximum dose of five milligrams of THC.

These campaigns were called “First Time Five.” Which I thought was just brilliant. So if you didn’t know what cannabis was and if you didn’t what to use, it didn’t matter if you inhaled it, or if you ate it as a candy, a gummy bear, or a chocolate bar, as long as you didn’t take more than five milligrams of THC the first time you used it, and you never took a second dose on the first day.

Those were the main recommendations to avoid ending up at the hospital.

49:34 One of the advantages of having this substance regulated by the government is that the government is going to take care and provide information on how to responsibly use cannabis, but I’m not really seeing a lot of that out there. What’s your take on the level of public education on responsible using cannabis?

51:10 Besides being aware of dosage, what else do people need to know to consume responsibly?

53:22 Can you tell us about the large longitudinal study happening in Canada and Finland?

56:51 So you have two teenagers. How are you managing on the parenting side? And what advice do you have for parents for talking to their kids?

59:05 Any other public information we should all know?

1:00:55 So imagine you’re an adult and you’re having a dinner party or watching a movie and you smoke a joint, when do you know if it’s okay to drive home?

1:04:01 So the person who gets pulled over by the cop for driving poorly could say, ‘Don’t worry, I smoke everyday.’

1:06:02 There’s another class of psychoactive drugs that seem to be following a similar trajectory in terms of legalization and medical use, and that are psychedelics, more specifically psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA.

What’s your take on the research literature and the historical trends that we’re seeing there? Are we seeing the next cannabis or is it a different class of phenomenon?

I think there is incredible potential in those drugs. When you look at the initial studies that were done in the 1950s and 60s–I mean they weren’t small studies, they were done on thousands and thousands of patients. And the results were spectacular.

But the sixties came and then the counterculture. Then it became a street drug and it was banned. But over the last 10, 15 years, there has been a rebirth of research in psychedelics.

The great thing about psychedelics, unlike cannabis–cannabis when you’re using it medically, you have to use it pretty much like everyday because it is for chronic symptoms. Psychedelics are usually like a one shot deal. People use it, a couple of sessions, three, four sessions, eight sessions. It’s usually in psychotherapy. It’s usually used for psychotherapeutic purposes.

So it’s not something that you’re going to be using everyday to treat a condition. So the long term effects in terms of impact on your cognition are really not a huge issue.

But I believe it’s going to completely revolutionize how we practice medicine in the 10 to 15 years for sure. When you look at most of the problems we have–I mean in family medicine, 50% of the people who come into my office don’t have a physical problem. So it’s anxiety issues, it’s depression, it’s a lot of mental health problems. And the drugs that we have and the interventions that we have are effective, but it takes a long time. And the results are not always spectacular.

Whereas, as with these compounds, when we look at addiction for example, for depression, for obsessive compulsive disorders, in many of these studies, the results were like almost immediate. So we’re looking at like short term, high intensity interventions with long term results. And that’s what we want in mental health. We don’t want this in the dropper kind of thing.

1:09:13 Just for the record, I’m also very excited about the tremendous potential that psychedelics can play in revolutionizing mental health. But to play devil’s advocate here, I’m a little suspicious of the studies because, first of all, it is impossible to do a proper control, since you know if you got the active substance.

And second of all, there is so much excitement, and the researchers are so passionate. Those are suspicious conditions to read the data with. What’s your take on that?

1:11:01 If you took 10,000 people, and say, ‘Okay. I’m going to take you into a room and something really weird is going to happen. But I’m going to be here to support you.’ You could just give people a carrot at that point and a big chunk of those 10,000 people will have a mind-blowing experience.

Of course something will happen to your subjective experience, but that being therapeutic I think is subject to a placebo.

1:13:04 We’ll see if the results stand up to more rigorous tests. Is there anything else that you want to say?

1:13:40 What’s the obstacle to that? Why aren’t they doing that already?

Episode 9: Purpose, Politics, and Well-Being with Kim Manning

 

Good leadership is, yes, about listening. It’s about understanding. But it’s also about creating contexts in which people can become activators and create new possibilities for themselves. I feel like I am succeeding when the people around me are fulfilled and engaged and self actualized.

In this episode of the Numinus podcast, Dr. Joe speaks with Kim Manning. Kim is a professor, researcher, and principal of the Simone de Beauvoir institute at Concordia University in Montreal. She is also a community organizer, an advocate for transgender rights, and a politician. After transitioning from her research in Chinese politics and Maoist ideology, Kim became involved in social action research, namely an advocate for transgender rights and the dignified treatment of that community.

Her journey began with a transformative experience with a gender nonconforming family member. That inspired her to play an integral part of passing Bill C-16, legislation which looks to extend Canada’s Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to protect gender expression and gender identity.

Kim recently transitioned to a career in politics, which she sees as the pursuit of her highest purpose. She is currently running to be the federal Liberal party’s nominee in the Montreal riding of Outremont, where she feels she can best serve her community. To find out more about her political campaign. For more on her academic work, please visit her Concordia profile. Joe and Kim discuss:

Psychology research is increasingly demonstrating that mental health is more than just the absence of disease. It also involves the promotion of the positive aspects of life, including gratitude, compassion, purpose, and meaning. If you’re interested in positive psychology, Numinus recommends ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), registering for a mindfulness meditation program, or joining a meditation group at Presence.

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Here are some highlights of the conversation with Kim:

3:45 Can you give us a little introduction into what you do and how you got into it?   5:10 What is social action research?

 

6:43 Can you talk about the transformative experience you’ve had over the last few years?

One of the neat things about reconnecting with you is that when I took the MBSR course back in 2011, I was literally just coming in. I just applied for my first grant related to, in particular to parent advocacy on behalf of transgender children. So I kind of knew you in this moment of transition for myself.

I remember getting the grant that June. It was also the same time that my family moved to Outremont as well. For me, it was a highly personal shift that I was taking at the moment. A close family member of mine who was at that point of time very gender non-conforming and potentially transgender, and that really galvanized me when I was looking out at the world and looking at the very unwelcoming state of the world for people who are non-binary, non identifying as male or female, or who are transgender in the sense that they don’t identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth.

So for me that was very galvanizing and really prompted to in a sense cultivate new allies and new friendship and new ways of trying to approach this problem. So instead of trying to fix this close family member of mine, it’s about really approaching this as a societal problem. And we need to fix society, rather than this particular individual that I was close to.

 

8:43 Can you clarify some of these terms: Non-binary, gender nonconforming, and transgender?

12:26 You mention that your approach is to address this issue as a societal problem. Could you speak to why that shift is important?

15:33 So you get involved in advocating for this relative of yours. Tell us what happened there.

18:32 What was that moment when things hit the fan?

19:51 So you developed a mission in life. How does that translate into becoming more politically active and getting involved in the Liberal party?

 

25:39 I wanted to hear your thoughts on Bill C-16, which was a very hot topic in the media. Jordan Peterson has taken a very public stand against the bill. Jordan Peterson is a Professor at the University of Toronto and, full disclosure, a former mentor of mine. He was an academic for most of his career.

For reasons that aren’t totally clear, he decided that it was very important  for him to fight it. He fought it on the grounds of a free speech position, and he claimed that the legislation was coercive in compelling people to use the pronouns of a transgender individual’s choice.

He has a very elaborate and abstract argument that the legislation is an outcome of an extreme left ideology that is making its way into law. And he felt that it was really inappropriate.

On Bill C-16: What we’re talking about is providing people with a sense of basic dignity and respect. Which is again what we have codified for ourselves and each other in all kinds of forms and changes over time. That’s a part of the society we live in. To me, this is a very reasonable, and not just reasonable, it’s part of how we create a society in which we grant each other dignity in the context of our interactions.

 

34:43 So what did you do?

38:20 You’re running to represent the Liberal party in the riding of Outremont in the by-election coming up. What are you doing to prepare for that race?

 

43:06 You said that you’re looking for a party that aligns with your values. I have the impression that alignment is a huge thing for you. It’s even in the signature of your campaign: ‘Leadership with Heart.’ You’re pursuing these ideas, and they’re not abstract. They’re at the core of who you are.

Yeah, and they’re very relationship based. That’s the key piece for me is–because for me, good leadership is, yes, it’s about listening. It’s about understanding. But it’s also about creating contexts in which people themselves can become activators and create new possibilities for themselves. I feel like I am succeeding when the people around me are fulfilled and engaged and self actualized if you will. And that’s tough.

That’s tough in neighbourhoods like Cote Des Neiges. When you’re dealing with potentially difficult housing situations. When you’ve been trained for one form of work, and you’re not able to get a job because of maybe language issues, where you’ve got family who are in another part of the world. That’s a hard call.

But if there are ways in which you can be bridging some of these pieces. If people can really come into their own and feel like, ‘Yes. I can make a good life here.’ Wow.

 

44:54 I’d love to talk politics and leadership with you for hours. But I think I know more about well-being. I’m curious about what the alignment that you achieved did to your state of mind. You’re always on the go. It must be incredibly draining, but you’re always smiling. It’s just unbelievable.

You’re a meditator. So there is going to be a high level of awareness of how your energy and mood are evolving. Can you speak to that a little bit?

 

53:55 One thing I’ve seen in my practice, of course, is that it’s very important to get cardiovascular exercise, maintain good relationships with loved ones, and meditation has become something that people do on a regular basis to stay mentally fit.

What has occurred to me in doing the work that I do is that in some ways that it’s not enough to solve problems. It’s not enough to undo the mental bad habits that we’ve developed. It’s not enough to take care of the pathologies in our own relationships or in our minds.

There’s something missing from well-being, which is having that deeper sense of purpose. I love this quote from Nietzsche: “He has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

So one of the things that intrigues me about what you’re doing is that you have a very strong why. I was wondering how your sense of purpose is affecting your life, your relationships, and your energy levels.

Thank you for asking that question because as I have deepened into this work, the question of purpose has actually clarified for me. I think for me, actually my whole life, I’ve always seen presenting myself for politics as my ultimate purpose, for me, where I can be of most service.

I’ve tried other ways to be of service: teaching, doing research, and my parenting, being a good member of community. And all of these other things have great meaning for me, but for me, ultimately what I’ve realized, for me myself, because of my personality, because of who I am, I feel like I can be of greatest service if I’m in a role where I can be working with people in a capacity as a member of parliament or legislature, to be actually doing that work. To me that’s my highest purpose at least in this moment in time. As I have said, it may not play out. But even in the striving for that, there’s deep meaning.

And truly for me, whether it’s the Zumba classes, or whether it’s being in a mosque for the first time, as I was in June. I have had moments of–it’s almost radical vulnerability. That to me, that sense of aliveness is just a tremendous gift for me. I also see how people respond. The more I’ve committed to this path, the more the people around me and the people who are coming to me–I’m meeting extraordinary people in all kinds of communities. So it’s like the more alive I become, the more I’m interacting and finding and opening up to these other people who are extraordinary, and doing extraordinary things with their lives.

And their higher purpose is different from mine. And wow. ‘Look at what you’re doing. Isn’t this extraordinary?’ And even in my closest relationships. Yes, this is hard.

My kids don’t get to see me nearly as often as they did before I started this journey, 6 months ago. There’s no question it’s hard. It’s hard on my husband too. It’s hard on the kids. I can talk more about how we manage that whole piece because that’s a whole other–I think it’s more of a political question of actually of how you do something like this. And it’s, again, reflective of the kinds of systems I want to change around who can actually go into politics.

Who can make these attempts at radical vulnerability if you will? But I will say that the more I invested in this work and committed to this work and the happier I’ve become, the more alive my relationship is with my partner and with the other people around me. And I know in some ways that that doesn’t make sense. But it also totally makes sense.

And it just affirms for me that the guy I married 20 years ago is really my right partner. And that the more alive I become, and the more alive he becomes, there’s that connection and mutual support even 3 children in and several houses and all the moves and all the various trials of life. So that’s really extraordinary too.

 

1:00:13 When you talk about your work, you also use the word vulnerable quite a bit. We all want that alive feeling, but it does require commitment, risk, and making yourself vulnerable. And that’s not always easy for people. But when you have that deeper purpose, it gives you the why to bear that how.

1:02:34 Tell us how we can learn more about the work you’re doing.