Full text of psychiatrist Dr. Narveen Dosanjh’s talk: Using Mindfulness to Choose Love over Fear at TEDxBushwick conference.
Dr. Narveen Dosanjh- Medical Doctor and Integrative Psychiatrist
The inspiration for my talk today is my dear friend Jamie Zimmerman. She was a TEDxBushwick 2015 speaker. She spoke last year about ‘The Power of the Gap’.
She is no longer with us and in her loving memory, I wanted to continue the conversation about mindfulness and how we can utilize mindfulness to better our communities and choose love over fear.
As a psychiatrist for years, all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from, I’ve realized typically want three things. That is to be seen for who they are, to be valued for who they are, and to be accepted for who they are.
And I always tell people, if that’s something you want for yourself, then you have to be willing to give that to others.
As a psychiatrist, people also come to me looking for greater peace. And through mindfulness I’ve been helped… I’ve been able to help them achieve more peace in their lives.
But there is a direct interconnection between what’s going on inside of us and the world around us. And that’s where mindfulness comes in.
So what’s mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as bringing your attention to the present moment and recognizing your thoughts, emotions, and reactions that are going on in that very moment in a non-judgmental way.
And when we’re talking about our community, when we become mindful, we give ourselves an opportunity to choose love over fear.
So let’s talk about the collective consciousness of our community and our city.
What happens when we look deeper into the collective consciousness of what is going on in our city and in our community today? What is the pulse?
When we look at police shootings, community, law enforcement, talk of gentrification, what is underlying all of these things?
And essentially it’s fear. And Gandhi has this wonderful quote that I love. He says, ‘We think the enemy is hate, but the enemy is not hate. The enemy is fear.’
And that’s what we really have to talk about. So let’s talk about fear.
Where does fear come from and how does it develop in the human brain and in ourselves?
Well, we’re born into this world and when we come into this world, we have all of our senses: touch, sight, smell, words that we hear, things that we see. And as we grow into the life, into our life, we’re basically taking in all of the information from around of us, from around us and absorbing it into ourselves.
So that comes from all types of things. Social media, it can come from movies, the books that we read, the words that we hear, the communities we’re a part of, the things people say.
And what’s happening over a lifetime is that the brain is absorbing all of this information. And when the brain absorbs all of this information, what ends up developing unknowingly is a concept called implicit bias.
So what’s implicit bias?
Implicit bias is a sub-conscious bias. It is a bias in our judgment, our behavior, or our actions that is unknown to us. And it’s typically unintentional. It’s coded very, very deep inside. And it’s really in a part of ourselves that we don’t and can’t acknowledge.
Implicit bias from an evolutionary standpoint was very advantageous to the human brain. We humans had to figure out who was friend and who was foe. We had to decipher. So we developed this very protective mechanism to be able to develop implicit biases because we had to survive.
But when we’re talking about our modern world today and we’re talking about building a better community, implicit bias can get in the way.
So we talk about implicit bias. We have to talk about the concept of fear. And fear begins and ends in the brain. And implicit bias and fear are connected because when implicit bias and fear are interconnected, that can affect the way we think, what we believe, our actions and all that we do.
All right, so let’s talk about the fear of response. Something everybody knows about. What happens is, fear is an emotion that begins and ends in the mind. It is subconscious and it just happens. We don’t think about it.
And depending on what your mind perceives to be a stimuli of fear, that’s how this entire fear of circuit actually occurs and happens.
So depending on the world that you live in, the community you grew up in, what’s very interesting is that your mind is going to have a very different perception of your perceived stimuli of fear.