A Talk With Best-Selling Author and Psychiatrist, Anna Yusim, M.D.

A Talk With Best-Selling Author and Psychiatrist, Anna Yusim, M.D.

Dr. Anna Yusim is the author of the best-selling book, “Fulfilled: How the Science of Spirituality Can Help You Live a Happier, More Meaningful Life”. Every day, more and more people are being helped to live more fulfilling lives by practicing simple exercises in this enlightening book. If you are turned away by talk of spirituality, yet, you feel like you are missing something in your life, this book is for you. Dr. Yusim is a master of bringing together the worlds of science and spirituality. If you are working to overcome an addiction, or if you just want to learn how to live your best life, please read this book. You can find it on Amazon and all book stores. Here, I am providing an interview from my podcast, The Rehab  in which I have an excellent discussion with Dr. Yusim. Below is a transcript of the show.

Dr. Leeds: Welcome to The Rehab on the mental health news radio network. I am Dr. Mark Leeds and I will be your host. Join me in exploring the world of addiction treatment. How can we improve the ways that we help individuals to overcome addiction? The goal of treatment is to save lives and help people to get back on track to a path towards success and happiness in life. Experiencing her own spiritual awakening led Anna Yusim MD  an award-winning Stanford, and Yale-educated board-certified psychiatrist. With a robust New York City private practice to write Fulfilled, how the science of spirituality can help you live a happier, more meaningful life. Through personal experience and vigorous research, over the past 15 years, Dr. Yusim made a startling discovery that flies on the face of most modern medical teaching, including her own.

Dr. Leeds: In Fulfilled, she distills core universal spiritual principles from a number of esoteric traditions such as Kabbalah, shamanism, and Buddhism to name a few. She then incorporates the spiritual implications of new developments in quantum physics, exploring topics like consciousness, synchronicity, immortality and interconnectedness. Taken alongside cutting edge scientific research in 50 fascinating clinical cases from her psychiatry practice. The result is a revolutionary book that puts forth a whole new paradigm for integrating science and spirituality within the context of modern medicine. Dr. Yusim is a trailblazer among psychiatric professionals who recognize the important role spirituality plays in one’s health. Her patient’s primary complaints ranging from anxiety to depression, feeling empty, hopeless, and lost, often coincide with spiritual neglect. With such a wealth of knowledge in her field. Dr. Yusim is available to speak or write on a number of medical, political, and spiritual topics.

Dr. Leeds: Dr. Anna Yusim is an award winning, nationally recognized psychiatrist, speaker and author with a private practice in New York city. She is a lecturer on the clinical faculty of the Yale psychiatry department. After working as a neurobiology researcher with dr Robert Sapolsky, PhD and completing her studies at Stanford, Yale medical school in the NYU psychiatry residency training program. Dr. Yusim felt that something was missing from her life in her quest to find it. She traveled, lived and worked in 50 countries while studying Kabbalah, learning Buddhist meditation and working with South American shamans and Indian gurus. Welcome doctor you’ve seen to The Rehab podcast and thank you for joining me today.

Dr. Yusim: It’s a pleasure to be here Mark, thank you so much for having me.

Dr. Leeds: I just finished reading your book Fulfilled and I love the book, it’s excellent. I’ve already been discussing it with my patients and I’ve been recommending it. Especially and I told you I treat opioid dependence in my practice, opioid use disorder with medication assisted treatment. One of the first questions that patients ask me is when can I start tapering off this medication? When is the treatment over? That’s a difficult question and part of treatment is to recommend or refer a patient for therapy. The therapist that we refer patients to, they don’t always have an end game in mind either. I was hoping that you could help us with that of where do we go from here? How do we start planning on getting a patient off of medication and getting on with their life?

Dr. Yusim: Right, absolutely. I think for every schedule and when they’re ready to go down, it’s different. It’s really important to do it intuitively and to really work together with a patient to see how they’re feeling every step of the way. When I have treated heroin or opiod addiction in my patients, I’ve had patients do it in many, different ways. Some people, if they’re particularly motivated and are able to go either to an inpatient detox or they just have necessity. They have a job urine test that they have to do and they have to be clean by X date. We could use a taper schedule of, for instance, reducing something by 25% per week, that’s number one. Number two is when it comes to opiates, if someone was on an opiate medication or heroin, they often will need to replace that medication or that drug. With something that is a little, bit less addictive such as either methadone or buprenorphine.

Dr. Yusim: Then from that space, slowly but surely taper themselves off. A rule of thumb for tapering is about 25% per week, this is for many substances with taper schedules, but everybody is different. I have tapered patients off, for instance, Klonopin and we need to do five percent a week or we have to do 10% a week because they’re just not able to tolerate it. It’s too difficult. When it comes to opiates, in addition to a replacement medication, there’s also a number of medications you can use for systematic relief. You can use medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms, that reduce the anxiety of the taper that help people to sleep. That help with the body changes the somatic changes that are going on within a person. It’s a very personal process in the sense that there’s not a one size fits all approach, but there is numerous principles, that you could use across the board with people.

Dr. Leeds: Yeah, that makes sense. I like what you said, that there’s not a one size fits all approach and that’s actually the model of this podcast and that’s a underlying theme in my practice. That I don’t treat every patient the same, everyone comes in with a different history and different needs and that makes sense with the tapering schedule. One thing that’s scary, especially these days with the issues with heroin and basically the poisoning of heroin with things like fentanyl and carfentanil. Is that you almost can’t afford to have a patient risk a relapse. When we have patients that we taper them off and have them go through therapy and in some cases they go to NA or AA. We’ve had patients that have done very well, they’ve called very excited that they’ve had a success.

Dr. Leeds: They’ve tapered off, they’re clean now, they’re going to meetings, they have a sponsor, a support group. Then maybe a few months later, some of those same patients come back and they’ve had a relapse and in some cases a life threatening relapse. Where they may have just barely made it through, they were saved with narcan. Luckily somebody had narcan on hand and they were brought to the hospital. It puts us in that position where it’s a scary thing to even take people off medication and some cases you almost want to tell someone, maybe you need this buprenorphine indefinitely. Of course that’s a difficult thing to tell someone when they come in. How do you tell someone, I don’t want you to ever stop medication because I don’t want to take a chance that you might die out there.

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely, right. There are patients for whom that is, at least for the foreseeable future, could be their destiny and their faith that to stay on the medication, to stabilize themselves. Because this is the thing at every single point in a taper, at every point that somebody is releasing their dependence on this thing that used to be their escape that used to be their crutch. There’s a very strong and important psychological change going on in that person and it’s really every taper is an opportunity for growth. But growth at heart and growth is painful for a lot of people. That’s why there’s not a one size fits all approach. Some people can do it quickly and are very motivated and their bodies can tolerate the withdrawal. For other people it’s true, they need to stand on medication for a long, long time in order for their body to get ready in order for them to be able to take that next step.

Dr. Yusim: I’ll give you an example, one of my first patients and I actually write about her in my book and in the addictions chapter of my book. She is an amazing young woman and she came to me at the time in her early twenties for the last many years, addicted to heroin. For her heroin was a friend when there was no other friends, it was the only thing in her life that didn’t disappoint her, that was there for her when her family wasn’t. That helped her deal with the trauma of her past or that’s how she saw it because that was the narrative she had of her life. Together we first were able to get her onto buprenorphine, which was a really big deal actually and it was very hard for body, but she was able to do it. Then at that stage we actually kept her on the buprenorphine and tried to get the right medication to help level her mood because she’d been on the drug for so many years.

Dr. Yusim: The thing is people don’t just get in to drug, often they’re self-medicating something. The drug was serving a very important purpose in her life, it wasn’t just an escape, it was correcting. Whether, you call it a chemical imbalance, psychological distress, inner psychic pain. We tried to figure out some medications that would enable her to do it without having to rely on the drug. We got her on the right medications and that’s how far I took her as a resident. During that time she dropped out of school because of the addiction, during the time that I worked with her as a resident, she got her GED and applied to become a paramedic, actually EMT first is this the EMT. Then I graduated and then a few years later she contacted me to wanted to come back and work with me in my private practice.

Dr. Yusim: At that time she had been an EMT, very, very successful EMT, had been clean and because she was an EMT, she needs to do a urine check and had to eventually get herself off buprenorphine. Which, she says was the hardest thing she’s ever done, even harder than getting off the heroin. She got off that eventually on her own without treatment and passed the EMT exam, passed the paramedic exam now is a high level paramedic working and helping people every day. But the reason she came to me was because she was having panic attacks. These drugs were serving an important function, she was able to get rid of them, but the psychological distress persisted. Then in the last year she and I had been working together to get the right medication and also work psychologically to deal with this residual symptom after the addiction had cleared.

Dr. Leeds: You remind me, when you say that a person is self medicating. In the narcotics anonymous program, they say that addiction is a suicide on an installment plan. It’s a slow way of a person killing themselves but on the other hand, people are self-medicating and maybe it’s a good thing in some cases. Or in many cases that, rather than a person being pushed to the point of suicide, that they have this alternative that they pick up a drug and self-medicate. Ideally, of course we would rather have treated the medically or some other way, but at least as long as the person is still alive there’s still hope. There’s still hope that they can come back and get clean and get treatment. That’s in a way, it’s a good thing. Have you dealt with that as far as people suicide. That’s an issue in the medical community that’s come to light lately in the media as far as physician suicide and physician burnout, is that something you’ve dealt with in your practice and with your patients?

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely. It is such an issue and I treat numerous physicians who come into these, precisely for that reason and there are so many reasons for that and it’s such a problem. Part of it is, the personality types that are drawn to the medical profession are individuals who are so good at giving of themselves to others and being of service. They love their jobs and they usually 100% committed to their patients. What’s much harder for these individuals to do is take really good care of themselves. This is such an important problem in, with the physician burnout, physician suicides and what I do with a lot of the patients that come to me is we create self care plans. I ask them to take good care of yourself because at the end of the day, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.

Dr. Yusim: You have to put your own self care first, which to many physicians seems crazy. How can I be so selfish, how can I put my needs before that of my patient of my family, of my wife, of my spouse. But you’re not going to be much help to your patients, your family, your children, your spouse if you’re burned out, exhausted, depressed, or whatever else. Many of the physicians who I work with come to me there and it really is on so many levels about self care that’s on the internal level. Obviously it’s a much bigger issue, it’s a systemic issue that is plaguing a lot of people and the internal change and self care is just one of the solution. The other solution is at the much larger societal level, which is the external change that needs to happen. That is creating safeguards against this and giving physicians the tools and the ability and the knowhow in their training to take better care of themselves. To know when are you going to be likely to feel burned out.

Dr. Yusim: What do you do in that situation? How do you look within yourself to make sure that that doesn’t happen and to also have programs that identify those risk factors in physicians. Unfortunately the changes in Western medicine are such that many physicians lives are changing and the burnout happens from people expecting one life. Or having had one life as doctors, things changing in society and then them having to work three or four times as hard. See that many more patients to have the same quality of life and get the same income for instance. There’s a lot of problems both internally that need to be addressed within a person and also externally at the societal level so yes, definitely a very big issue.

Dr. Leeds: Definitely. It seems like from looking at your practice and I don’t really know much about it, I haven’t been there, but now my practice is what I would call micro practice. I think there’s a movement recently in the last few towards that of physicians talking about this and talking about the idea of dropping out. Dropping out of what they call the big box clinic and going to work for themselves in small clinics and you really don’t need much more than a doctor, a room to practice in. A scale, blood pressure cuff, a stethoscope and we don’t really need to deal with the abusive practices of insurance companies and employers and hospitals. Would you consider your practice to be a micro practice?

Dr. Yusim: Yeah, I feel very fortunate that, that is the case and that I am able to practice in that way in New York city. I’m fully recognizing that, that’s not something that everybody in all the different communities has the luxury to do. In Manhattan, there’s a number of people who use psychiatric services, so it is possible to have a practice where it’s very much catered to the kinds of patients that you want to see. Working the hours that you want to work and really being able to cater that to your lifestyle. I think that’s one of the reasons for myself that I don’t feel burned out, I work very hard, I see many patients. But I really feel that my job is so fulfilling because it’s very much within my control.

Dr. Yusim: It’s a small private practice that caters to individuals in Manhattan who deal with anxiety, depression, addictions, some ADHD, insomnia, things of that nature. Not usually the people with chronic and persistent mental illness, but more high functioning people who are going through life changes and seeking to better themselves and grow. More recently, since my book has come out, I’ve been working more with people who want a spiritual approach to psychological healing. Really trying to bridge those worlds of trying to draw in spirituality and giving people non medical and non medicinal tools to deal with a lot of the psychological distress. So, yes, I would certainly say that I have a micro practice.

Dr. Leeds: Now, speaking of spiritual, in your book you discuss different spiritual leaders and experts and you talk about things like, getting your soul in alignment and even the afterlife. I noticed reading it a single mention of a name, Krishnamurti, and it stood out to me because I used to read his books I think when I was in my twenties and I just loved reading him. I don’t know why, I think a friend gave me a book and I looked for more books and he always would tell these stories of a person comes to them asking for help. While the person is asking their question or describing their problem, he’s looking out the window at the beauty of nature going on around them while this person is oblivious to it.

Dr. Leeds: Then he’ll… Usually his answer is something about, that the person, they can’t let go of their attachments and I could just read all of his books. I love that sort of thing and you talk about that, you talk about getting a person’s soul back in alignment and dealing with addictions and other issues by dealing with your soul and connecting back with your soul. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this, it reminded me of something in the NA program called the triangle of self obsession. Where they talk about fear versus faith, anger versus love, resentment versus acceptance. I just wonder if you could talk a little, bit about that, about the spiritual teachings that you discussed in the book.

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely and I have. I also love the work of Jiddu Krishnamurti and I have a quote of his, in the book and the conclusion that says, “The heart of man is in his own keeping to end violence, we must relentlessly keep freeing ourselves of the violence within. Inner strive projected externally becomes world chaos.” I think actually those words form the basis of my book, in those words is encapsulated the most important point. Whenever you see something that you don’t like outside of you, you must look inside and identify that thing that you don’t like that you’re projecting outwardly. Identify that within yourself and change that. If you don’t like something that’s going on in terms of violence, anger, whatever that is, look within yourself and identify the violence within you. Start to change that way by shifting that you shift the outside world. It’s a very powerful spiritual concept and we’re not usually taught to think of life and psychological change in quite that way.

Dr. Yusim: Now, you mentioned your, having read my book and about it being in line with the soul. The soul is a very interesting thing because I, in my training at Stanford university, at Yale medical school, we never really mentioned this idea of soul. It’s this arcane and esoteric topic in medicine. However, at the end of the day, our whole life really is about identifying our soul purpose and striving to align with precisely that. What is the soul and how do we define it? How do we identify it? How do we draw that in to modern Western medicine? In my own work, obviously I have my medical training, but I also work with a number of healers from different traditions. And obviously studied a number of healers like Jiddu Krishnamurti and others and one of the men that I met in studying in Mexico about the healing arts was a shaman named Fernando Broca.

Dr. Yusim: He gave me a definition of soul, that’s my favorite definition. His definition of soul is that the soul is, comprised of two parts, one part is that what you encapsulate our own uniqueness that which separate us from everybody else. Is the way in which we can use our talents and skills and abilities and interests in this world to give to humanity in a way that nobody else can. One part of soul is that uniqueness. The other part of soul is that which connects us to everybody in everything. It’s our divine essence and what people often describe as we’re all one unified soul, that which encapsulates our interconnectedness as human beings. The soul is this two part thing or entity, one of which encapsulates your uniqueness and one of which encapsulates you are interconnectedness. Many people say that, the soul is that which is the divine spark within you, it’s what connects you to something greater than yourself. Whether that be God, the universe collected consciousness or whatever your way of understanding something greater than yourself is.

Dr. Leeds: You talk about belief in God and belief in the soul, I forgot the name of it. It was somebody wager I guess-

Dr. Yusim: Pascal’s Wager.

Dr. Leeds: Yeah, that’s it. Yeah, can you explain what it is again?

Dr. Yusim: Yeah. Blaise Pascal, was a 17th century mathematician… Because you often wonder, do you believe in God, do you not believe in God? How do you believe in God, why do you believe in God? Blaise Pascal, came up with a very interesting argument for why logically you should believe in God. For many people, belief in God isn’t a logical thing, they know God exists or they know that there’s a higher collective consciousness or they believe in something greater than themselves. Just because they believe they know, but for those of us who need logical proof, Blaise Pascal presented a reason why we should still believe, and it’s called Pascal’s wager. Pascal’s wager basically States that if you believe in God or something greater than yourself and you’re wrong, then you really was nothing. Because, you started with nothing, you’ll lose nothing.

Dr. Yusim: However, if you believe in God and you’re right, then what you get is worth the possibility of being wrong. Meaning that what you get if you believe in God is you get an afterlife, you get a connection to something greater. You get protection, get whatever it is that God or something greater offers to you, which is this infinite thing. So, if you believe in fighting, you’re wrong, you lose nothing, if you believe in God and you’re right, you gain everything. That according to Blaise Pascal was Pascal’s wager and the logical reason why we should believe in God, if we indeed need logical reasons.

Dr. Leeds: Yeah. I think that’s the thing that’s difficult for a lot of people, just fear of what happens when they die and what there is beyond just being alive. Sometimes people wake up in terror thinking, Oh, my God, I’m going to die and that’s the end of everything. On one hand you have in my reading with Krishnamurti that, where he I think was saying, “Well, if you’re fearing dying and losing yourself, you need to give up that attachment.” For me that’s even more scary, I’d rather want to believe that there is something, I think most people would. I think you even mentioned that, that the majority of people in the US or maybe the world do believe in God and believe in an afterlife.

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely. Yes and actually the man who wrote my forward to my book Fulfilled, his name is Dr. Eben Alexander and he was a Harvard neuro surgeon for many, many years believing in a materialistic universe. That everything that you see is the only reality, that there isn’t anything beyond that, which you could see. Obviously as a neurosurgeon, he worked on people’s brains on the nature of consciousness, which neurosurgery and modern medicine believes arises from the brain itself. A very material materialist perspective, but then Dr. Alexander had a near death experience that changed his whole conception of reality. He experienced this spiritual awakening where he went up and connected to something greater, whether it be God. Whether it be this afterlife and the experience was so profound and hyper real that it changed him forever after. Upon return from this near death experience, which interestingly his whole frontal cortex was out, he had bacterial meningitis and his brain wasn’t working at all.

Dr. Yusim: Before they used to think near death experiences are just the brain, coming up with this stuff, but his brain wasn’t working, his brain was completely dead. Whatever was happening wasn’t happening in his brain, it was happening in this higher consciousness, whatever that is. This really bled into this greater and deeper inquiry for him as to what’s the nature of consciousness. He and his partner Karen Newell, just wrote a book, Living in a Mindful Universe. To better understand the nature of consciousness, the afterlife, and how to really understand the brain in this context.

Dr. Leeds: I think I read an article recently about… Maybe it was a study or interview with people in the operating room setting, where people who have near death experiences. Are able to, for example, describe the environment around them in detail even when their eyes were closed for the entire procedure. That just by itself would prove there must be something more going on, how could they describe precisely what was happening around them when they weren’t even conscious or their eyes weren’t even open.

Dr. Yusim: Exactly right. That there is a way that we can perceive of the world and there’s a nature of reality that is more than we really understand with modern science. That not all of reality can be empirically experienced and validated. That there could be something even beyond the brain from which consciousness could arrive even when the brain is shut down. It’s very profound and quantum physics and neuroscience is only beginning to start to shed light on some of these discoveries. But I feel like there’s much more to come in the future.

Dr. Leeds: Yeah. Also, you talk about a synchronicity of things happening that almost seemed like miracles in a person’s life. Maybe small miracles that something happens and it just seems like too much of a coincidence, how could that have just happened to have happened right when I was thinking about it. You give some examples, can you talk about that a little bit, synchronicity?

Dr. Yusim: Yes. That is exactly, the nature of synchronicity. Synchronicity is a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Young, who described it to define experiences that occur. The co-occurrence of two things that don’t cause one another but somehow are meaningful to the person experiencing them. It’s like you think about someone and they call right, you thinking about that person didn’t make them call usually. But somehow the fact that they called right after he thought about them was meaningful and that meaning is that synchronicity. A very famous example that Carl Young describes a synchronicity with one of his patients was, there was a woman patient and she was blocking her own progress through this wall of logic that she was putting up. She was intellectualizing too much, as we all tend to do some times and this woman was saying to Carl Young, something about a dream she just had about a golden scarab beetle.

Dr. Yusim: Just as she was saying that, Carl Young, looked outside his window and there it was a golden scarab beetle. He put his hand outside his window, grabbed the beetle and put it before his patient here’s your gold, green beetle. The patient was flabbergasted, how did that just happen? The fact that, that happened, did this patient speaking about the beetle cause that beetle to appear? Of course not, not to mention that there’s a million beetles appearing in front of people all over the world and not setting up breakthroughs in anybody else. But somehow the co occurrence of those events in that time was meaningful to both Young and the patient and actually led to a breakthrough in their treatment. Synchronicities can happen in a million different ways, for some people they happen as numbers. A friend of mine in medical school, for a fellow medical student got this locker combination and the lack of combination was his girlfriend’s birthday, right?

Dr. Yusim: Is that meaningful, is that random, who knows? But to him it was meaningful and the meaning that he made of it was the universe was with them saying that, you know what, you’re on the right track. This is the woman you’re supposed to be with at least for now. That was the meeting that he made of it and this is the nature of synchronicity. Some people say that synchronicity is a way of the universe guiding you or giving you a little wink or saying that it’s got your back. Another synonym for synchronicity is meaningful coincidences and one of the things that I try to do in my book is to give people concrete tools. Through which they can connect to something greater than themselves. Harnessing one’s own intuition and looking within, and there’s a lot of exercises on how to do that, is one way.

Dr. Yusim: That’s how you can harness that power to connect to something greater than yourself internally. Synchronicity is the way that you can harness your personal power to connect to something greater than yourself externally by seeing what comes up in your life and being able to make meaning of it. Putting together the pieces of your life and recognizing that there’s a greater structure than just random unconnected events. Some people say that the coexistence of numerous positive synchronicities in your life is the universe saying you’re on the right path, keep going. Whereas a number of negative synchronicities, when you keep doing something but nothing works out for you. You can keep trying something and despite your best efforts and often for totally illogical reasons, things just don’t work out. That’s the university to you, “You know what this is not for you. Change course, look inside something’s a little bit off.” In those two ways, through intuition and synchronicity, those are two powerful ways people can connect to something greater than themselves and harness their own divine essence.

Dr. Leeds: I wanted to ask you about, you had mentioned or you discussed in the book the film, The Secret, which is interesting because in in 2015 I think I was recovering from a minor medical procedure and I was just laying in bed. I turn on Netflix and I saw The Secret was recommended at the top of the recommendation. I had heard about it, so I watched it and I enjoyed it and I thought I don’t really believe this stuff but I really want to make some changes in my life. I started thinking about it that, I was working two jobs at the time it was hard to even get time off. For years I dealt with that of dealing with employers and trying to get time off from work and just people telling me I have to show up at nine o’clock every day and arguing with me over things at work.

Dr. Leeds: I thought, I want to do my own thing. For years I had wanted to have an addiction practice but I was afraid of loss of income, of, of having to struggle and start all over again. I was already well into my forties and I thought, well, it’s not going to be easy, but at that point watching that movie motivated me to take little steps. I had joined a business development group online, I started meeting people and a lot of the things that I did along the way. Were maybe not good ideas or dead ends and there was waste of time and money, but everything from that point on, towards that one goal.

Dr. Leeds: Where I met a guy who knew a lot about online marketing and he helped me, but along the way I realized that I wanted to take more control and do things differently. That movie, The Secret had a big effect on me, but I think if I just stayed in bed and wished for things, probably nothing would happen and I think you talk about that. That the law of attraction is something that works, but you have to do your part of it. You have to do your work towards getting something.

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely. The law of attraction, it’s fascinating, right. It really does talk about the power of our minds and it’s really neat, also it’s like a synchronicity that it came into your life, right as you were thinking about the kind of career change you wanted to make. The kind of shifts and transitions you yourself were undergoing and indeed the law of attraction. There’s several steps to the law of attraction. One is to conceive what you want, conceive of what you want and imagine it. Imagine it in your heart and mind, but imagine not I want this. Imagine it as though you already have it, imagine what it would smell like, taste like, feel like, be like. If you already have the object of your desire, whether that is a new practice, a new love whatever that is. To not make it too specific in your mind, but instead focus on the feelings that it’s going to inspire in you once you already have it.

Dr. Yusim: That’s one of the first steps, the second step is you’re exactly right. You can’t just sit around and hope things are going to come to you. You have to take active and concrete steps to the best of your ability to make it happen. I was reading a really neat little blog by Wayne Dyer yesterday. Which different initiated motivation from inspiration. Motivation is when we want something so badly and we’re going to stop at nothing to make it happen. It’s a beautiful thing, we do it often and it’s an important part of life. Inspiration, however, is when we let the universe guide what it is that comes into our life and we respond. We believe that there is something greater that’s guiding our path that knows perhaps even better than us what’s in our own best interest. It’s not that we undermine our free will or put the free will away.

Dr. Yusim: On the contrary, we surrender the freewill a little bit to something greater and see what opens up from there. It’s a much more surrendering process as opposed to with our egos going forward and moving everything out of the way. The reason I make that distinction is because as part of the law of attraction, it’s actually, even though we need to be motivated and do what we need to do. It’s even more important to be inspired and to be open to the guidance that comes into our life that could help shape the direction that our life needs to take. I gave an example of the book of, someone who needed to be saved and there was a big flood coming and this person’s a very pious man. He says to God, “God saved me. There’s a flood coming.” He keeps praying and he believes God’s going to save him.

Dr. Yusim: Someone knocks on his door and says, “Come on, there’s a flood coming. Why don’t you get into our car? We’re going to drive away and the guy’s like, no, you know what, I don’t need you. I appreciate it, but that’s going to save me because he had faith in God.” The flood continues, there’re starting to be much more water, water’s starting to fill the streets. Someone comes to him in a kayak and says, “Hey, come on into my kayak, there’s a big flood coming, and the guy has like, you know what? God’s going to save me, it’s all right. You guys save yourself, I know I have faith in God.” The water continues to rise and eventually a helicopter comes to his door and says “Come on, come on, you’re going to die. There’s a huge flood here. Come with us. He’s like, you know what? You guys save yourself. God is going to save me.”

Dr. Yusim: Needless to say, this guy dies. In heaven, he asked God, “God, I had faith in you. I asked you to save me. Why didn’t you save me? God says to him, you know what, I sent you a man with a car, I sent you a kayak, I sent you a helicopter. What else am I supposed to do? You’re supposed to say yes and you said no.” That’s a huge part of the law of attraction because the universe will present us with opening, but we’re the ones that have to say yes to those openings. It’s like this dialectic on one hand using your free will, but on the other hand, recognizing what comes into your life and the doors that might open. Often more through inspiration than through motivation. Just like you said, it’s a very co-creative process, surrendering and also willing at the same time.

Dr. Leeds: To me, it seems like and maybe this is just me in where I am. An underlying theme for me in reading your book was the idea of freedom, of being able to take control of my life or the reader reading the book. That it is possible that they can live the life of their dreams and free themselves of whatever is holding them back. There’s a lot of possibilities out there and once you free yourself, once you’re on that path to freedom, that you have to remain vigilant. Because if you don’t, you can always return to where you started and maybe that’s just the theme of my life now. Seeing how can I gain more freedom in my life and have less gatekeepers and less things affecting me to hold me back. I felt like reading your book, it was like exactly the right time for me to read this book. Reinforced a lot of the things that I had already been thinking about.

Dr. Yusim: That’s so beautiful and it’s interesting too that right now we’re in the midst of Passover and Easter. Passover is really about freedom from bondage is how to increase freedom in your own life. It’s the time when the Jews left Egypt and the metaphorical way that you can think about this is all of us having our own personal Egypt. All of us having our own personal bondage from which we’re seeking to free ourselves and this is very much in line with the Easter idea of redemption. Renewal, releasing the chains that bind us and I feel like at the end of the day, our goal as human beings really is to increase the amount of freedom that we have over our own lives. That is by removing our self destructive tendencies, recognizing how we ourselves often through the confines of our minds and how we see things have been limiting our own freedom without even realizing it. What you’re saying and the fact that my book came into your life at a time when you were seeking to enhance your own freedom of your life is a beautiful thing and that makes me feel happy.

Dr. Leeds: I don’t read a lot of books straight through that quickly. But you know, when I picked it up I just kept going. I just wanted to get through and read everything. One thing that came to mind as I was reading, as I came to each exercise, and I’ll have to go back and work through some of them. I just kept reading through, but have you considered a workbook, it almost seemed like it would lend itself to having a companion workbook with the exercises separately and maybe even a place to write.

Dr. Yusim: I love that idea and yes, I am hoping I’m actually putting this out into the universe that some publisher will come to me and say, “let’s make a workbook.” I will gladly do that. I unfortunately don’t have the time to do it on my own, but if some help were to come into my life. I’m putting that out into the universe, I would so gladly create that work. But I think you’re exactly right that it really does lend itself. The book is trying to be a lot of things all at once. It’s trying to present cases to give concrete exercises to have spiritual and psychiatric principle and really also to tell my own personal story. There’s a lot of things going on and you’re exactly right to be able to extricate a little part of that into it’s own thing, a workbook would be great.

Dr. Yusim: Also, do you think that this book could be used by doctors? For example in my practice or doctors like me who are maybe primary care family practice doctors. That are treating addiction and also it’s normal as part of general medical practice to treat some depression and anxiety. Could doctors use your book as a template for providing some therapy in spiritual guidance in their practice to their patients?

Dr. Yusim: That’s actually why I wrote it. I was hoping that first and foremost it’s a book that would impact my own influence, my own colleagues. It’s interesting because many people in medicine are very open to spirituality, but there’s certainly a subset, especially my own colleagues who aren’t. Where spiritual ideas that are about non-medication and other things people could be closed and critical and skeptical of. I’m hoping that the fact that it’s based in science and has a lot of scientific evidence to support many of the exercises that I’m proposing. Is going to be something that opens some of my colleagues minds to be able to use it with their patients and for patients themselves. The book has about 50 case studies of different kinds of patients that I’ve worked with. I hope that as people read it, everybody will find a few cases that resonate with them and that really are indicative of their own story. That the way that my patients have overcome some of their pain and trauma are things that people could use in the things that they identify with to overcome theirs.

Dr. Leeds: That brings up another thing maybe similar to the workbook. I’ve already discussed your book with several patients during my reading in the last few days. I basically told them look for it on Amazon and I said, Anna Yusim MD you seem MD Fulfilled and they wrote it down or made a note in their phone or looked it up right away. But in my office I have posters around the waiting room, things about quitting smoking and diet programs. Do you have promotional posters, like if a doctor wanted to put it up in their waiting room just to, to recommend your book or tell people about it.

Dr. Yusim: Absolutely and I’m happy to send you some of those and thank you so much for sharing it with your clients, it just warms my heart. It’s music to my heart that it resonated with you and that it’s something that you’re using to help the people that you’re helping. Absolutely, I can send you some promotional material. I actually made little book cards that are like postcard size and shape. Pictures of the book that have the endorsements on the back, so I’ll send you some of those.

Dr. Leeds: That would be great. And once this podcast goes up on the network, I’m going to share it with all of my doctor friends. I think I told you I’d joined a group of doctors that are all similarly minded of starting their own small practices and we have a group on Facebook where we all share ideas and things. I really can’t wait to share this with them and I’m just right away going to recommend the book to them and then share this podcast with them. I really think that that all of us could benefit from reading your book and sharing it with our patients. Putting some of these exercises into practice and sharing them with our patients. I know that this is going to change my practice going forward.

Dr. Yusim: I am so, so grateful to you, Mark. Thank you for saying that and for really interacting with the book and the material and for being changed by it. If there’s one reason I wrote the book, this was the reason and thank you.

Dr. Leeds: Thank you. I just want to say, the name of the book is Fulfilled by Dr. Anna Yusim MD and you can find it on Amazon. Is it in bookstores now also?

Dr. Yusim: Yes, it’s wherever books are sold. It’s on Amazon, on any online book seller and they can also access it through my website, which is www dot Anna Yusim dot com which is A-N-N-A Y-U-S-I-M as in mary.com. There they can also sign up for the newsletter, which has every month the podcasts such as this and whatever else comes out about the book in terms of interviews, videos, et cetera, on a monthly basis.

Dr. Leeds: You’re also on Twitter, I think I followed you.

Dr. Yusim: I’m Anna Yusim MD on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. The funniest thing is that I’m such not a social media person, but now I am by virtue of this.

Dr. Leeds: Yeah, definitely. I really want to thank you for joining me. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and join me on the podcast, The Rehab, and I really appreciate it. I’m really happy that we met and I was able to read this book and again, thank you.

Dr. Leeds: Thank you for joining us today on The Rehab, on the mental health news radio network. I hope that you have found this show to be interesting and useful. If so, please subscribe to the rehab podcast and share on social media. I appreciate your taking the time to listen to, The Rehab.