On Your Mind | Laura Rhodes-Levin | The Missing Peace

 

Do you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, like there’s a constant voice screaming at unsound thoughts bombarding your mind that wouldn’t shut up? You are one of the millions who struggle with anxiety and depression, who often feel they’re sad and alone. Today’s episode brings Laura Rhodes-Levin, the founder of The Missing Peace Center for Anxiety, to share her journey in finding peace and help and inspire you to find yours. She delves into her book, The Missing Peace: Rewire Your Brain, Reduce Anxiety, and Recreate Your Life, to provide you insights into traversing your own journey into breaking free from anxiety and creating a better life with joy and peace. Laura will also teach you how to retain your brain and develop self-compassion. Join us in this conversation. It’s time to take control of your anxiety and start living the life you truly deserve.

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Laura Rhodes-Levin Author Of The Missing Peace: Rewire Your Brain, Reduce Anxiety, And Recreate Your Life

Laura Rhodes-Levin is a licensed therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling and is known for her unique approach to the understanding of anxiety and anxiety disorders. Laura is the Founder of the Missing Peace Center for Anxiety. It is a facility that offers a variety of modalities including psychotherapy, neurofeedback, play therapy, olfactory, anxiety reduction, group therapy, movement, and more to help ease the nervous system and restore the brain, body, and mind to a place of calmness and relaxation.

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Laura, welcome. Good to see you.

It’s good to see you too. Thank you for having me.

It has been a while. I’m glad we could finally connect. I would like to ask you to get us started by telling us a little bit about what drives the passion for the work you do and how you got started in it.

It’s being born with anxiety and struggling with trying to cope with social anxiety and the inner anxiety that doesn’t shut up. It’s having tried different things in my life, everything from meditation to Benzodiazepines, and finally finding the formula and wanting to share that and help other people find their way out.

What was the beginning of your finding the formula?

Finding the wrong formulas. I got sober several years ago, and interestingly enough, doctors still wanted to give me Benzos. What I’ve learned in creating this book and the studying I’ve done behind it is that it’s genetic. When I was four years old and imagining a bear in the closet, why? What could I possibly have been so traumatized by it for that I was feeling so unsafe inside my own head?

What I found is that, through some really good studies, we not only inherit our eye color, our hair color, and our height. We inherit emotional imprinting that happens through trauma to our grandparents and parents. That was very fascinating to me. It’s not that you always need to find out where it came from, but it certainly helps make things a little more clear.

What I find is that even though I’m a therapist and I’m a good therapist and all the therapists at my center are very good, I say this all the time. If your dog were freaking out, you wouldn’t say, “What triggered you, Fluffy?” You would soothe that animal. Our anxiety exists in that thinking part of our brain. It gets started in the emotional part. It’s our fight-flight state. The things that make us different is that we perseverate on it. The best way to stop your brain is to get into your body. I really want to reintroduce the phrase, “Come to your senses.” On our day, it was Humphrey Bogart slapping a woman around, “Come to your senses, doll,” but it was literal at one point.

Music calms the savage beast. When you’re engaging smell, sight, and sound, three even, your perseveration slips to the background. That’s why Hawaii is such a wonderful place. You get off the plane and it smells good. You hear the strumming of the ukulele. The air feels good on your skin. Suddenly, you don’t care about your taxes. When you’re in Hawaii, your senses take over. That’s where the focus is at my center. It is focusing on self-soothing through the senses and then using cognitive behavioral therapy, rethinking your traumas, and reframing your inner critic. Put that all together and then it’s amazing. It’s so freeing.

You said you got sober. I’m assuming you were using alcohol or some other drugs to numb out or distract from this. What was the biggest piece that got you to break that cycle?

It was hitting a physical bottom. I had a heart attack when I was 37, and that didn’t even stop me. I wasn’t a cocaine user. I was seeking to relax. I wanted to smoke a lot of pot and take some Valium. Not that I want to get off into a whole sobriety thing even though I love it, but pot, to me, is one of the worst, most dangerous drugs you can take because, with any other drug, you will hit a physical bottom. With pot, you can stay pleasantly miserable for the rest of your life if you’re using it addictively.

I was in a hospital dying. I had no choice but to get sober, but that was the start of the journey. I didn’t get into mental health until about 4 or 5 years later. I don’t think it was this big a-ha moment. It’s a progression. That’s one of the difficulties for anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, or trauma. They want a fix. They’re like, “Fix me. What’s my a-ha moment?”

It is indeed a journey. It is a process, but not one that I would deprive people of. The morning you first wake up and you say, “I slept through the night,” that’s a miraculous feeling. These are little things that really make the journey spectacular. In my experience, there wasn’t one giant a-ha moment. It was a series of little a-ha moments, if you will.

The Missing Peace

You have a book coming out. The title of that book isn’t Missing Pieces. It’s The Missing Peace, correct?

On Your Mind | Laura Rhodes-Levin | The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace: Rewire Your Brain, Reduce Anxiety, and Recreate Your Life

That’s correct.

It’s not pieces. It’s not 7 or 8 different things that we need to do. You talked about using the senses coming back into full body awareness at different levels to distract from the spinning at the conscious logical level. Is there a key that you have found that works for you or the people at your center to help people get more mindful and become more centered in the physical?

Yeah. I’m glad you used the word distraction. You said to distract from the noise that’s going on in the head. I find it so interesting that we call that the distraction. It’s the present moment that we don’t know how to be in. We’re inundated with words like mindfulness and self-care, but how? The how is the big question. It’s different for everybody. Some people are visual, some people are tactile.

It’s also a combination. It’s interesting that you say pieces because it is made up of different pieces to bring one piece. I like to think of it as a recipe. A lot of people will say to me, “I’ve tried aromatherapy. It didn’t work. I’ve tried therapy. It didn’t work. I tried a sound bath. It didn’t work.” If you want to make cake, you can’t say, “I put eggs in the oven and I didn’t get cake. I put flour in the oven and I didn’t get cake.” You have to put all these ingredients together. Even the half teaspoon of vanilla, who knows what the heck that does? By putting all these pieces together, that’s when the recipe begins to happen.

A big part of it is making friends with your brain, that negative self-talk that goes on and on and is so critical of you. You take it so seriously, this mean friend that lives inside of your head. As corny as it sounds, it is loving yourself and believing in yourself. It always breaks my heart when someone says, “No one’s harder on myself than I am.” Why would you do that to yourself? Yet, it’s such a common thought process.

A big part of controlling your anxiety is making friends with your brain. Share on X

The idea is to give people tools to be not mindful because I feel like that’s a distracting word, but present. When you’re drunk, you don’t care about your taxes. You’re like, “I love you. This music is great. This food tastes so good.” You are present. We don’t know how to do that. By trying different things, art, writing, smelling, cooking, tasting, nutrition, and all that stuff, people suddenly become aware of how they can be where they are. They reprogram their brains to stop going off and down the rabbit hole by using tangible resources that anyone can get ahold of and grounding themselves.

What’s the process like when somebody comes to your center for evaluation and treatment?

I have two components. I have a mental health charity called PHEW Foundation, Pathways to Health and Emotional Wellness, which is attached to the Missing Peace Center for Anxiety. Most people come to the center from 9 to 25 or 30 hours a week. For some people, it’s covered by insurance. For some people, it isn’t, which is why I created the charity.

By the time people are ready to commit to 9 to 30 hours of therapy a week, they’ve pretty much diagnosed themselves. Their worlds have gotten so small. They feel incapable of coping, so in they come. Depending on who the person is, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or trauma, they’re grouped with peers who are going through the same thing so they can normalize what they’re feeling and not feel like such outcasts. Primarily, we do design individual programs for people, but most of it is different components of the same program in different orders. Did that answer your question?

We’re getting there. They come in and they’ve pretty much self-diagnosed themselves because they’re so struggling with life and/or anxiety and depression that they’re ready to commit to either 9 up to 30 hours a week. What are they doing in those nine hours a week?

If you take 9 hours, it’s 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. In those three hours, they will get an individual session either with a therapist, a nutritionist, or an intuitive healer. They also get a group, and then they get either neurofeedback, which is the brain’s ability to fix itself, a wonderful modality through the use of an electroencephalogram, or they get PEMF, which is Pulse Electronic Magnetic Field therapy. That reduces inflammation in the body and helps scar tissue.

What I find quite often is people have IBS, stomach issues, and intense migraines because their bodies are screaming at them, “Pay attention. There’s something about your life you can’t stomach. Please pay attention to me.” They’ve gone to all the doctors who say, “We can’t find anything wrong with you. This is in your head.” People cannot believe that that’s in their heads.

We don’t listen to our bodies. We decide what’s best for us. Our bodies give us little hints until finally, our bodies go, “I can’t do this anymore.” The hope is it’s May 2024. It’s Mental Health Awareness Month. Start at the top. Our brains are responsible for what our bodies are doing. There are a lot of health problems that happen that wouldn’t happen if people were dealing with their mental health.

Start at the top. Our brains are responsible for what our bodies are doing. There are a lot of health problems that happen that wouldn’t happen if people were dealing with their mental health. Share on X

Even the American Medical Association has come around to saying that upwards of 90% of all diseases are stress-related. It isn’t necessarily caused by stress, but it’s either aggravated by stress or the healing process is inhibited if your stress is too high. There is general recognition that if our stress level goes too high or if we’re even getting close to that fight or flight response, the immune system isn’t functioning very well.

It’s true. Yet, the medical profession will prescribe Benzos and add a drug addiction on top of trauma. Unfortunately, the media is so bent on scaring the life out of us with very extreme points of view that we are subjected to night and day that really breeds hate and fear. You take the pandemic on top of all of the political stuff. We spend very little time, most of us, in nature, breathing, and relaxing. It has become so technical. Everything is you get a text message like, “Pay attention. Do this. Do that.” We’re asking way more of our brains than we ever have and our bodies are paying the price.

Is it safe to assume that as part of your recommendations to people, you recommend they unplug from the news cycle and take more downtime?

Yeah.

Are they learning at your center things to then be doing on their own at home?

Absolutely.

Is this a training ground for how to live a better life?

Yes. I want to go back to what you said originally too. I have a chapter in my book called Bad News. My parents were ten feet away from Robert Kennedy when he was shot. They were very involved politically. I was raised to be involved politically. I was on the phones for different presidents that I believe should be president.

What I realized is I became so obsessed with the news cycle and my heart became so intense. If you look at C-SPAN or you go back to the ‘30s, they’re standing on the Senate floor going, “This is the end of democracy as we know it. You go to the ‘40s and they’re saying, “This is the end of democracy as we know it.” I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. This is their story. This is the end of democracy as we know it.

What I have found is my patients are from both sides of the fence. I love them all. Most people are not in these crazy extremes. It happens in religion. It happens in politics. Most of us are somewhere in the logical middle, and that’s not what makes money. That’s not what raises money for lobbyists. That’s not what raises money for big pharma.

I made a decision. I’m like, “I’m not watching this race anymore. I’m going to do my part in the world the way it feels good in my soul and be the best, most positive influence I can be on the people I get to be in touch with. That’s my part. That’s how I want to spend my day. I don’t want to go to bed at night anymore listening to fear.” That’s the news piece. It’s not about ignorance, because I used to feel that if you don’t know what’s going on, you’re ignorant. That is a great distraction. That’s what keeps us struggling, in my humble opinion. Did you want to comment on that at all before I told you about the tools you could take home?

No. Go right ahead.

I purposely designed my center to give people tools that they can take home and use. The only thing that you can’t take home is neurofeedback and PEMF. We also have Alpha Stimulation, which you can take home. That’s the hardest thing. People are at the center and they feel so good and relaxed, but then, do they go home and use it? We focus on, “What are you using at home? What are you doing to take this feeling with you?” Anything to our senses is available to us all over the place.

You mentioned to love yourself or not love yourself. You mentioned how it touches your heart when people say that they’re the hardest on themselves than anybody. I remember the story of the Dalai Lama who was asked, “How do you deal with self-hatred?” It took an inordinate amount of time for the Dalai Lama to interact with the interpreter to figure out, “What are you talking about?” The concept was so foreign. They had no concept of that in their culture. It is, to a great degree, seeping out from the Western culture, but it is about Western culture and that mindset. I want to ask. How much do you bring in the concept of love, self-acceptance, or those kinds of things from the mental focus that produces the emotional energy that resonates through the system?

Resonation

That’s the keyword. It is about the resonation. It is about the energy that you are putting out in the world, and that energy starts inside. The brain does have a negative bias, and it is programmed to detect dangerous criticism so that it can self-correct. It’s a natural component. Many of us, as we are being raised, because we’re raised by other human beings who have also been raised by other human beings and trauma has been passed down, along the way, we develop inner programming that we’re not good enough.

We focus a lot on, “What are the negative things you’re saying to yourself? Where did they come from? Who programmed you with these messages? Now, let’s think of replacement phrases for it.” I can tell you, “Look at this cup. describe it to me. Keep looking at it, but don’t think about it.” That’s very difficult to do if I’m like, “Don’t think bad thoughts, but look at them.” You have to bring in the different thoughts and go, “Let’s focus on these thoughts instead,” so much so that these thoughts drift away into the background. You are retraining your brain to speak to itself differently.

People love that because in life, as souls when we’re born, we always have that little voice in the background that knows we deserve love and that we’re special. This voice is so loud. We do this thing where we practice until this voice goes in the background. I always say, “I’m going to be honest. This voice, that negative voice, never disappears, but it’s as strong as that special, wonderful voice used to be before we traded places with it.”

What all of our practitioners do is teach us to look at our pain, our trauma, and our anxieties as seasoning for our particular special gift. We’re all brought here. We’re part of the universe. The universe grows everything through energy and micro everything, and that includes us. The universe is always trying to create health and wellness in its own living being. All living beings do that. Anything that’s unhealthy rots, feels terrible and smells. Eventually, it falls off. We have the ability to prune that yuckiness away and create a positive vibration for ourselves.

On Your Mind | Laura Rhodes-Levin | The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace: The universe is always trying to create health and wellness in its own living being. All living beings do that. Anything that’s unhealthy rots, feels terrible, and smells. Eventually, it falls off. We can prune that yuckiness away and create a positive vibration for ourselves.

 

It’s the process of that inner knowing and changing your frequency and energy so that you’re leaving your old radio station behind of pain and fear. You are switching your frequency to that new frequency of love, light, and caring. We attract what we’re putting out, that resonation. If you hit a tuning fork in the key of C, none of the other keys vibrate, but the Cs will vibrate. When you have fear and negativity, you’re going to encounter that everywhere, but when you start changing that frequency, your experience in the world changes. That’s what we really focus on in every way, shape, and form. It’s profound.

It sounds like what you’re doing is helping people shift the actual energy they’re experiencing. If I sit and think happy thoughts but my body’s in tightness and tension and I’m aching, and I keep getting constant reminders from the media, I can’t generate that energy. When you have a program like yours where you help people get in touch with some nice music, some nice sense, and some physical relaxation, and you put on training the brain to go into the more relaxed states, that person gets an experience of vibrating and resonating at a different level. With practice, they can choose that more often than not and start to build that habit. I talk to people about how it’s like muscle memory, It’s like riding a bike or learning to throw a ball. When we first started to do those things, we weren’t very good at them at all. Yet, with practice, our body remembers.

Star Wars does such a great illustration of that. You’ve got this powerful energy inside of you. You can start to become Darth Vader or you can become a Jedi. The title of my book is The Missing Peace: Rewire Your Brain, Reduce Anxiety, and Recreate Your Life. That’s the whole goal.

I keep thinking as you’re talking about the Michael Singer book, The Untethered Soul, and how he talked so much in the beginning of that book about what you were mentioning earlier. If I had a transcript of my private thoughts, gave it to a friend of mine, and they followed me around all day and read it to me, I’d kick them out of my life before lunch. I wouldn’t tolerate anybody talking to me the way my own negative thoughts are constantly hammering me.

I play Chapter Two, The Inner Roommate, for my patients all the time. I love that book.

It sounds like what you’re doing is right in line with what we promote for people in the optimal being program that’s part of what Journey’s Dream has developed for people. It is this two-pronged approach of recognizing how your true nature is that you’re a miracle of life, expressing in form. You’re going to have all kinds of energy and genetics that you get passed down through your bloodline, so you’re going to have all kinds of negative thoughts and emotions. The one prong is reminding yourself of that miracle of life expressing yourself and the potential for that resonating at a higher loving, peaceful, healthy frequency. The other prong is recognizing the negative and having tools for dismantling it and making it the background voice rather than the foreground.

We’re also programmed to become like others to fit in. It’s our special uniqueness. There is no other Timothy Hayes in the world. There is no other Jim Jones in the world, and I’m not talking about the Whitepages. We try so hard to dumb down and fit in, and it’s the exact opposite. We need to fuel the ember of our own unique individual selves. That’s why the world produced you, to begin with. It needed your special seed. It is our trauma and anxiety that helps us find our purpose very often.

On Your Mind | Laura Rhodes-Levin | The Missing Peace

The Missing Peace: We’re also programmed to become like others to fit in. It’s our special uniqueness.

 

It’s certainly one way to do it. I was going to ask, do you have a method or a format in your center for helping people first identify and then refine their life purpose?

Yes. That’s what it’s all about. A life purpose can be gardening. We all have such different passions. That’s what finding your purpose is really about. It’s about finding your passion and making it an active entity in the world around you. That makes you feel like you have a purpose. When the world is responding to your passion, it’s magnificent, and people find you. Your people find you.

My stepdad has this concept that when your driving force is different from your actual day-to-day purpose, you are unhappy. If you’re someone who is more into service and wanting to help people but you’ve been raised to be an attorney or a salesperson of some sort, it doesn’t resonate with your inner passion. Through the play and through the senses, it’s not just about the relaxation. It’s about what’s exciting. It’s about what excites you and what makes you feel alive and following that.

For years, I’ve told people, “It’s so important to find that resonance for you that’s a mission statement or passion.” I’ve recommended several different approaches to people. There’s the passion test. There’s Greg Mooers’ heart virtue. There’s Dr. Michael Ryce’s secondary purpose. They all are driving toward the same kind of goal. Some will take you there by focusing on what you’re really good at and what you love to do. Some will take you there by focusing on what was your deepest pain in life and finding a way to turn that into your purpose to help others not have to face that or not have to face it alone. Others will have you focus on what you think is most important in your life that you have that when you start thinking about it, you feel the most excitement for.

Do you mind repeating those instruments? I would love to write them down.

One is Greg Mooer. He calls that heart virtue. He would do an interview with people and ask them, “Tell me about the worst of the worst things that have happened in your life.” As they’re talking about it, sooner or later, they’ll hit one where their voice tone goes up and their emotions come up. It’s the feeling of, “Nobody should have to go through this.” He says, “That’s the one we’ll work with.”

He’s then like, “We’ll create a statement of purpose for you where you pick an actual number. It could be 500, 5,000, or 5 million, but a real number. Now, you say, “I now choose to use a significant amount of my time, intelligence, money, and energy to make sure that this number of people don’t have to go through that or they don’t have to go through it alone, or they have help in recovering from it,” etc.

How interesting.

The passion test is available online. It’s one of those things where you list what’s most important to you, and then you prioritize them. You then hand the list to a friend and they make you choose between the 1st and 2nd one. What if you could only have one? You keep doing that all the way through the list until you’ve got about five. These are the most important to you. You can redo that as a process. You write these down and read them every day, and you make sure that you’re not straying too far from thinking about them and/or taking action on them.

What was the third one?

The other one was Dr. Michael Ryce. He has a lecture titled Purpose, Personal Power, and Commitment. He says the primary purpose for everybody is the same for everybody. First, you develop, and then you strengthen a viable, conscious spiritual body. The secondary purpose is going to be different for every person.

He says, “Make a list of 10 things you’re naturally good at, and then a list of 10 things you love to do regardless of whether or not you can make any money at them. Take some time to write a short narrative description of how the world will look through your eyes when it’s perfect. Now, once you’ve got those three things done, you write a statement that says, “I now choose to use 1, 2, or 3 things from the 1st list as I do 1, 2, or 3 things from the 2nd list as a way of helping the world become this, my view of a perfect world.”

That’s when you don’t need the news to tell you what to feel and do. They say it wasn’t Gandhi, or maybe it was Gandhi, who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s very important.

It goes right in line with the primary work that I have done with people over the years. It’s the idea of a power struggle model and keeping my energy focused on things I have control over. I don’t have that much direct control over what they’re going to put on the news. I do have control over what emotions I’m generating in these next few moments. Many people haven’t even been taught that they’re the ones creating their emotions by how they choose to interpret and respond to life events from moment to moment. If I can learn that and then get some help from people like you practicing what it feels like to be in that more calm, relaxed, and pleasurable state, I can practice that and develop it into a skill.

True Peace Is Learning What To Ignore

One of my chapters is True Peace is Learning What to Ignore. It’s so easy to focus on if you’re sitting in traffic, “This sucks,” but you can listen to a lovely podcast by Timothy Hayes and enjoy. You’re there. You’re a part of the traffic. Why find the negative in it? I even say that Thanksgiving dinners or family holidays can be very stressful. You can focus on all of that, and sometimes, it can be so toxic. If you look at the cranberry sauce on the table and go, “That is the most beautiful ruby red,” and focus on what brings you peace inside, you’re okay. You’re entitled to focus on what resonates positivity in your body. That’s what makes you the most helpful toward negativity.

You talk about that resonance issue. One of the things that I have control over is what energy I am going to be resonating within me and then sending out. That’s why we frequently ask people to pay attention to the fact that it’s an energetic world. You’re an energetic being. Whether you realize it or not, when you walk into a room, there’s a certain level of awareness people have about what energy you’re bringing with you. It isn’t always a choice, especially for people who haven’t been educated about it, but it can become a choice. Let me ask you to get centered and take a breath. Of the things we’ve talked about so far with your center and the book, is there something you want to go back and highlight or something we haven’t even touched on yet that you want to leave us with?

Understanding that you have the absolute right to joy and peace. It is your life’s mission to find. It’s not to fix everybody else around you. It starts with you. Start with you and be part of that energetic wellness of the earth that you deserve to be. That will be infectious to the world around you.

Understand that you have the absolute right to joy and peace. It is your life’s mission to find. Share on X

What is the title of your book that’s coming out?

It’s titled The Missing Peace: Rewire Your Brain, Reduce Anxiety, and Recreate Your Life. If you’re looking for it on Amazon, you have to put in Laura Rhodes-Levin, The Missing Peace. Otherwise, it keeps changing it to Piece.

Thank you so much for joining us and telling us about your book and your center. I look forward to reviewing that book.

Thank you for bringing the energetic difference you are bringing to the world and your audience.

You’re very welcome and deserving. Have a wonderful day.

You too.

 

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About Laura Rhodes-Levin

On Your Mind | Laura Rhodes-Levin | The Missing PeaceLaura Rhodes-Levin, LMFT, is a licensed therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling and is known for her unique approach in the understanding of anxiety and anxiety disorders.

Laura is the Founder of The Missing Peace Center for Anxiety, a facility that offers a variety of modalities, including Psychotherapy, Neurofeeback, Play Therapy, Olfactory Anxiety Reduction, Group Therapy, Movement, and more to help ease the nervous system and restore the brain, body, and mind to a place of calmness and relaxation.

In addition, Laura currently serves as the Co-Chair for the Special Interest Group of Integrative Health for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), an international nonprofit membership organization and leader in the education, training, and research for anxiety, depression and related disorders.

In the past, she has received many honors for her work including a Recognition Award for Going Above and Beyond in the Assistance of Rehabilitation Programs for the National Council of Jewish Women, and The National Council of Jewish Women has bestowed her with the Unsung Hero Award by the City of West Hollywood, as well.

Laura has served as an expert on psychological issues on several outlets and has been seen on KTLA, Good Day LA, Fox News, KCAL 9, KCBS, KABC, and more.

 

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