Well & Kind’s mission is to cut through the hype and bring you evidence-based holistic wellness. To that end, the Well and Kind blog will feature monthly interviews with wellness innovators—people who are doing the hard work to figure out how we can live a happier and healthier life, and bring that information straight from the source to you.
Our first wellness innovator is Dr. Judson Brewer. Dr. Brewer is a psychiatrist by training. He is Director of Research at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at the U of Mass Medical School, professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School, and a research affiliate in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT.
In short, there is absolutely no reason why Dr. Brewer should have agreed to be interviewed on this blog.
In addition to his dozens of peer-reviewed articles and his best-selling book, The Craving Mind, Dr. Brewer has also got pop-culture cred: he’s been featured in Businessweek, Time magazine, the BBC, NPR, 60 Minutes, Forbes, and a TED talk that has garnered more than nine million views.
Again, why did he drop by Well & Kind?
Some might attribute it to the multiple requests I sent. But some might also attribute it to the fact that Dr. Brewer and I share a common bond over what he calls guerilla wellness. It’s bucking the status quo of seeing the doctor once a year and leaving the wellness part of the equation up to chance. The Well & Kind philosophy is that wellness arises from self-kindness—we are all empowered to be well. Dr. Brewer’s research proves that this is possible, whether you are curbing an addiction, managing your stress, or losing weight. Mindfulness, the powerful science underpinning Dr. Brewer’s research, is a powerful way of reclaiming our health for ourselves instead of chasing trends until we are exhausted and give up on the idea of better health.
Here is our discussion from March 11th, 2018:
Well & Kind: Did you grow up in a setting that was conducive to what you do now? Did you grow up around mindfulness?
Dr. Judson Brewer: (Laughs) No, I grew up in rural Indiana with my mom raising a bunch of kids..mindfulness wasn’t really a part of that. I did know plenty of suffering, though. That sort of prepared me for a career in mindfulness.
[Dr. Brewer studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Princeton University before going on to the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University, where he completed an MD with his Ph.D. focused in Immunology. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Yale, and went on to become a post-doctoral researcher in neuroscience research. He completed his fellowship in substance abuse at the Yale University School of Medicine and earned his board certification in psychiatry the following year.]
WK: The evidence is pretty clear: mindfulness works. So why don’t we hear about it when we go to the doctor’s office? Why isn’t it more mainstream?
JB: Are you ready for this? It takes seventeen years once efficacy has been proven for CMS to allow for a therapy to be reimbursed. We’re doing all of this guerilla right now; I’m working with a startup company that is developing treatments and my lab is testing their efficacy. For example, with our eating program, people are seeing a 40% reduction in food cravings; I don’t know of any pill that can do that. [Check out Dr. Brewer’s three web-based programs, targeting emotional eating, smoking, and anxiety .]
WK: What is one take away piece of advice that you would want the average person to know, from all of your experience and research?
JB: I wish people would learn how their minds work. Once you’ve mastered your mind, you can master what needs to be done. You can do anything you want to do.
To delve further into Dr. Brewer’s research on mind mastery and how it applies to all of us, view his TED talk here.