Hi Numerologist community, thank you once again for joining me for another episode of the Numerologist Podcast.

This week, Patrizia Collard joins me for a discussion on mindfulness and the academic side of the spiritual subject.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • How Patrizia became interested in mindfulness
  • The science behind mindfulness
  • Why and how you can implement mindfulness into your life

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Full Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to the Numerologist Podcast where we bring you a very special guest every single week to help guide you on your spiritual journey, live with abundance and inspire your soul.

Rose:

Hi, Patrizia. Thank you for joining me.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Hello. Nice to join you, Rose.

Rose:

Absolutely. So I just want to jump into who you are and what you do because you deal with a complex range of different therapies and modalities. Can you give me a brief overview and then, we’ll go into the deeper meanings of them.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Okay. Well, where to start? So I’m a psychotherapist, which is obviously a person who helps people with mental health issues, starting from stress to much more serious ones like trauma and shame, etcetera. I’m also a mindfulness and self-compassion teacher and trainer. So I teach individuals, groups, but I then also take people further who wants to become teachers themselves. So I’m also a trainer of such people.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

I also run general life coaching classes. I give talks to small and big audiences all over the world. And I also travel and train people, well, at least everywhere in Europe. I haven’t been asked to come to Australia yet. And although I’ve been to Australia a number of times because I love diving, so I also dive, but that’s nothing to do with my profession with mindfulness because I really think there’s a very strong connection between sort of being in the water, under the water, observing and just being in the moment.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So apart from that, I’m also, not to forget, an author and I’ve co-written three academic books and now I’m just finishing my 11th book on mindfulness, self-compassion, meditation. And that’s what I’m just finishing this week, actually.

Rose:

Yeah. Wow. See, that’s a very wide ranging list of things. So let’s dig into them a bit deeper because I know you’re a cognitive behavioral psychotherapist. Can you tell me what that means?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes. Okay. So psychotherapy, obviously, in the very early years was started by Freud and then [Jung 00:02:45], and that was all about helping people to understand psychologically what maybe traumas or difficult experiences they’ve had in the past. And usually started working with the early childhood memories and bringing them to the forefront. Now, that was going on for several decades. And then in the 1970s, there was a person called Aaron Beck and he was a psychotherapist and psychologist and

psychiatrist and worked in a clinic with people who were highly suicidal. So they had attempted suicide and they were continuing to attempt suicide.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And he realized when he went into psychotherapy with them talking about their early childhood, many of them got more depressed and more suicidal because very often in the past, they might have experienced even more difficult things. So he said what I want to create is a therapy that helps people in the here and now, tries to give them life skills in behavior and thinking more helpfully rather than self-condemning, self-doubting, so training them in that. Once they are kind of more stable in the here and now and have a purpose in the here and now, then we may decide to go back to the childhood if that is still necessary.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So from that in the 1970s, cognitive behavioral therapy developed. And I trained in it in the 1990s after originally training in person-centered therapy, which is generally called counseling where you basically just sit and listen and are empathic, but you don’t try and change anything. Cognitive behavioral therapy, you try and help people with definite thinking errors or behavior errors, and you try to establish a more helpful, healthy routine.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So you might have somebody who has a particular obsession with cleanliness and you might then train them to kind of reduce their obsession to something that they can integrate into a daily life so that they don’t spend four hours tidying up their desk and then, they might lose jobs or relationships because they’re never on time. So that would be a behavioral intervention.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Some people have very negative automatic thoughts that tell them all the time they are no good or life is just too hard, too difficult. There is nothing good. So with cognitive therapy, you help people to actually try and see that there is more than black and white, that there are shades of gray, different areas in life that might actually be not so bad. So you help them to look at different areas that they have simply not considered.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So cognitive behavioral therapy very much works with thinking errors and trying to regulate them and behavioral errors and trying to regulate those. But because I’m holistic, there’s always humanistic kindness, compassion part of the whole game as well. I’m not like a hardcore just in this questionnaire and learn these new thinking techniques[inaudible 00:06:15] so therapy is a specific training, which you need to have a sort of an underlying therapeutic training first.

Rose:

Yeah. Okay. ‘Cause it seems like, and obviously, I don’t have any training in psychotherapy or anything like that, but it seems like cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s almost a necessary part of the therapy. It feels like it’s something that people would need during therapy. So what does a cognitive behavioral therapy session look like?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Well, there are as many different sessions as there are therapists or clients. One of the things, I mean I particularly trained according to the approach of Arnold Lazarus who called himself a multimodal therapist so cognitive behavioral therapist with different modalities. And he said the therapist has to be like a chameleon adapting to the needs of the client. So, that’s the first thing.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

But a cognitive behavioral therapy session very often starts with what is the particular problem area that you want to work on today? So it’s not just talking freely and about the weather and whether you had a nice lunch or whatever, but you actually come with a particular focus, a problem, maybe you might come to the therapy session, you want to prepare for an interview because the last few interviews didn’t work out well. And you have now lost a little bit of self-esteem or you don’t quite know how to be assertive, but not over assertive and how to be at the same time engaging and, at the same time, answer the questions and not be too nervous.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So in the therapy session, we might then prepare a client by actually doing some role modeling. Also, there is a cognitive behavioral hypnotherapy. So we might even do some kind of hypnotherapy, but not as deep as trance, but where we teach them like a movie that they are watching in which they see themselves performing well, in which they see themselves achieving what they want to achieve. And it’s like if the brain has once seen a movie, it remembers parts of the movie.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So we then instruct, part of CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is also home practice. So at home, they then have to continue practicing what we developed during the session. And then hopefully by the time the interview arrives, they will be ready and the brain will have the idea. They’ve seen that movie many times where they succeeded, where they got the job and so, they are more spontaneous, they’re less nervous, they’re more in the moment and the brain doesn’t throw up so many stress chemicals and people usually cope better. So that’s, for example, one example of the therapy session, but I could give you hundred different ones.

Rose:

Yeah, it sounds extremely sort of individual and personalized, like therapy should be I suppose, but I want to talk about mindfulness now because you’re also a mindfulness teacher. And I just want to understand how you came about going into mindfulness and how it relates to your bigger picture.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So I lived in the 1990s, I lived for nine years first in Hong Kong, then in China. And I first started to be interested in Tai Chi and Qigong because I saw all these Chinese people doing these fantastic movements and still exercises all the time in any park, in any green area. So you saw hundreds of people because what you have to realize that in China, personal space is very limited. So people often go out because there might be six people living in one room and then they do these practices. So I started with Tai Chi and then Qigong, and then I had a big life-changing event. So I had my second child. And soon after his first birthday, I noticed that he was not developing like his elder brother had done, so no speech was coming. He was shying away from other people.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So I brought him before his second birthday to a psychologist in Hong Kong and she actually diagnosed him with autism. So I suddenly was living in a completely foreign culture and having a child with very extreme special needs. And at that very moment, I also met a fantastic yoga teacher. So I switched from Tai Chi to yoga. And during the yoga sessions, I learned mindful movement and meditation. And that was really what kept my self, well, vaguely sane. I don’t think I’m completely sane. I’m a little mad, but I had to be extremely patient and creative to help my child not to accept this diagnosis as a given ceiling, but to say, well, any ceiling can be stretched, any building can be enlarged. And I found that practicing mindfulness and yoga really helped me to be the best mother and the most creative mother.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And I already was a cognitive behavioral therapist. So I used quite a few of the techniques on my own son. And I’m happy to report that he did eventually at the age of six learn to speak and enter school and even went to university. So he has a very fulfilled … He’s got a partner now. He’s got a job now. And when the first diagnosis came, I was under the impression this child would have to live with me for the rest of his life and dependent on me. So that was how I started.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

When I came back to the UK in 2000, I went to a workshop on cognitive behavioral therapy and suddenly, there was mindfulness and they started talking about mindfulness and that recently, cognitive behavioral therapists had been going to America training with Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction. They wanted to create a new program, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and actually help people with relapse in depression, recurrent depression, not to have to stay on medication for the rest of their life, but actually learn more skills than just with cognitive behavioral therapy through mindfulness, because mindfulness teaches you to be in the moment and to accept what the moment brings, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. Mindfulness is not blissfulness. It means learning to be with what is non-judgmentally.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And so, I came to this workshop having done it for years for my own mental wellbeing and to help my son. And suddenly, I realized, wow, there’s a completely new school opening. So while they were writing the first book on this new technique, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, I already started training in it. And then from 2004, started to run workshops at the University of East London where I was a senior lecturer, but also with my private organization, Enter Mindfulness. And that’s really slowly, but surely, that became at least one of my major occupations and is in life mindfulness.

Rose:

It’s really interesting seeing this from an academic perspective because I was talking to a meditation expert last week actually, and we were talking about the fact that some professionals have a hard time saying, “Oh, I meditate,” or it’s considered a bit, well, it has been considered a bit of a woo-woo practice a bit out there.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yeah.

Rose:

When mindfulness first entered this realm, was there any kind of stigma or resistance there that sort of positioned these two things that were seemingly opposite together?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes, but I mean there, we have to go back a while because the initial mindfulness programs that were developed in the 1970s and ’80s that was in the United States and that was developed in hospitals by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who was actually a molecular biologist. So he was no therapist, no teacher, even … Well, he had a PhD, but not a doctor for medical conditions, but he was working in a hospital as a molecular biologist dissecting things and whatever, looking for viruses and whatever molecular biologists do, but he [inaudible 00:16:00] his own meditation practice and his own yoga practice. And actually in the hospital canteen, the other doctors were talking about the impossibility of helping people with psoriasis, a very, very serious skin disease and also with chronic pain. Nothing could be done for chronic pain.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And Jon had this kind of inspirational thought mindfulness, learning to be in the present moment and not just focusing constantly on your pain and how it was and how it will be, but actually maybe noticing the bird’s song or noticing how nice your cup of tea is tasting, getting a little bit more focused on what’s actually happening now rather than the problem. He created this program completely like from his … Obviously, he used his brain, but from his heart to help these people. So that was the first program, MBSR, mindfulness-based stress reduction that was developed.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And then in the late 1990s, early 2000s, the cognitive-behavioral therapists that were into this, developing mindfulness with cognitive behavioral therapy, actually, one of them was not into that at all, but he was persuaded by his other colleague who was actually a Buddhist meditator. So then three of them, a Canadian and two Brits got together and kind of said, “Well, what have we got to lose? Because whatever we’ve been doing for the last 30 years in CBT has been helping people with recurrent depression, but not completely. So we need something else.” So basically, they stepped out of their comfort zone and developed that.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

But of course, even now when I go to certain cognitive-behavioral conferences, some people kind of are very dismissive of mindfulness. And in my new guide that I’m finishing this week, I’ve actually dedicated a whole chapter on skeptics of mindfulness.

Rose:

Wow.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

What makes people skeptical about it and what skeptics say because there are still … I mean a certain publisher whom I’m not going to mention now because maybe one day, they’re going to give me a contract, but they brought up a little children’s book two years ago around Christmas, which is a complete rip off, a complete rip off of mindfulness, completely kind of taking it apart and belittling it. So there are lots of skeptics, lots of doubters. All I can say, of course, there is no medicine and no treatment that suits everybody. I’m not saying this is the treatment for everybody, but certainly, I’ve seen many, many people who were significantly helped and improved their mental health and physical health through the practice of mindfulness, apart from [inaudible 00:19:23] story, but people that I have treated and worked with. Does that answer your question?

Rose:

Yeah, absolutely. So these two things for you especially are intrinsically linked, is that right?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes. Yes. Now they are because I’ve got like 30 years of experience, of my own personal experience.

Rose:

And those 30 years of experience have gone into your book. So I want to talk about your books now because you’ve got a vast number of books, haven’t you? How many have you got?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes. Well, this is the 11th. If I don’t [inaudible 00:19:58] the academic ones, but they were more about counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, but this is now the 11th book that I’m finishing on the theme of meditation, mindfulness, self-compassion ’cause now the original word, [pali 00:00:20:19], so mindfulness originally was a practice that came out of Buddhist tradition. Although, of course, all spiritual traditions have mindfulness embedded, but the particular practices that were used for MBSR and MBCT came from the Buddhist tradition. If you look at the pali, pali is like Sanskrit, the original language of the Buddha. If you look at the translation of mindfulness from the pali word, it actually means mind- and heart-fulness. So next, the mind and the heart, it actually tells us and we know that. That’s why we have words like heartfelt or it broke my heart. We know it’s not just the mind thing, that it’s always also a heart thing that we’re dealing with.

Rose:

Yeah, absolutely. And I noticed that you’ve got a few books on mindfulness diet and recipes and those kinds of things.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes, yes.

Rose:

How important is what you eat in terms of your mental health?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Well, everything that … I am a person who tries to find the middle ground because everything that is too extreme and which causes you to feel guilt if you do it or guilt if you don’t do it, you might then have the perfect recipe, the perfect diet, but it might put a lot of pressure on you time-wise, financially or simply because you want to go out with your normal friends who are not vegans or mindfulness practitioners or vegetarians. So,  the problem is if you … the diet that you eat of course affects your wellbeing. But if you look at research, some research says the healthiest diet is what you find in Okinawa, which is a Japanese Island where they mainly eat seafood and very little rice and they tend to stop eating about 20 to 30% before they feel full. So they kind of have a diet that is in a sense quantity restricted, no meat, but fish and algae and vegetables and rice.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And then other research says the Mediterraneans, particularly Southern Italy, although they use wine and they use pasta and they don’t use whole food pasta or wholemeal pasta and they do eat definitely fish and seafood and sometimes even meat. And from the life expectancy and the lower rate of heart disease and the lower rate of cancer, that diet seems to be particularly recommended.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And then, of course, you go into but what if you choose a diet because of your political or emotional connection to the world? So you want to do something that is beneficial to animals or to the planet. So then, we get into a completely different ball game ’cause then it’s not just about your body, but about the world at large. So to take all these things into consideration is important, but if it becomes an obsession, if your diet becomes your obsession, then actually, it can be your downfall because you will produce stress chemicals when you’re very tense and very over concerned about something. And when you have stress chemicals in your body, it doesn’t digest properly. It doesn’t sleep properly. It doesn’t rest properly. You use up a lot of the vitamins.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So I don’t know whether that answers your question, but unfortunately, there isn’t a clear and perfect route for everybody. We have to find what is doable for us and what is doable with ease, with ease. That’s for me a very important phrase, which I mention when I meditate, when I teach meditation, with ease. The same with the practice, if you’re a mother of three toddlers, you might not find 20 or 30 minutes to sit down and meditate. You might mindfully do the dishes, and that could be your mindfulness practice. So anything you do, whether it’s eating, whether it’s practicing meditation, whether it’s practicing mindfulness, with ease, exclamation mark, exclamation mark.

Rose:

I like that. That’s a good and … I was going to say it’s a good and easy method to implement into your life. If you just have one word that you can think, you know what, with ease.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Ease.

Rose:

I really like that and what you were saying about the diet and if your diet becomes an obsession, I think that’s also a really good message because we’re in a bit of a diet-obsessed world at the minute and it’s good to sort of bring that down.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Exactly because you can find, I mean I could tell you lots of reasons why meat consumption is not correct, why certainly you should at least, if you do eat meat, you should have meat of animals that were free range and that were fed properly. And then, you have the other chapter, vegan. Okay, kindness to animals, kindness to this, but on the other hand, you need so many cashew nuts. And so, they are destroying the savannas in [inaudible 00:26:12]. So on the one hand, the rainforest for the soya production to feed the animals. On the other hand, the savannas where also lots of animals live and that’s their habitat gets destroyed because of cashew nut production. So both extremes are just wrong.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And Thich Nhat Hanh who was one of my teachers, a famous meditation teacher, he always said “Find a way,” maybe reduce your meat consumption. Or if you are vegan, reduce your cashew nut consumption. You don’t have to have replacement cheese and replacement sausage. Work with the products of your environment. Buy more local produced goods and try to [make 00:27:05] peace and ease with that so there’s a huge topic-

Rose:

Absolutely. Yeah. I was going say, I’m definitely going to implement that ease word into my daily life from now on. So thank you for that. I actually just wanted to talk about the book you’re just about to finish writing or you’ve just finished writing. Can you tell me a bit about that? And you told me a funny story before where you started this as well about how you sort of got the contract and you’ve been writing all through lockdown. So can you tell me a bit about that?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Yes. So this book is probably one of the longest books I’ve ever written apart from my PhD. It’s going to be called The [Godsfield 00:27:49] Guide to Mindfulness. And it’s completely new series. And I’m one of the three authors they have hand picked to write the first three books of this new series, which eventually is going to be like a whole sort of healthy living and alternative lifestyle selection and collection, hopefully, if you collect them all.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And I was debating whether I should do that or not because I had another book offer and I was also writing my own novel, which has now been put on ice for a little while because in the end, I decided I think writing a guide to mindfulness that would really guide people who might be complete beginners and then, also have chapters for quite advanced people and in the middle, individual chapters that show you how to use mindfulness in specific situations.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

I mean, by the way, there is a chapter on mindful eating in there as well, and then mindfulness in sleep and mindfulness in anxiety and mindfulness in depression, mindfulness in shame, mindfulness in posttraumatic stress, mindfulness in parenting, mindfulness in intimacy and mindfulness in interaction with other people. So I’ve tried to put in lots of different applications. They’re almost likely each chapter is a little book. And after the introduction chapters, there is one chapter that is a mindful day. That’s very much for people who want to start introducing mindfulness into little areas of their day. And at the end, there is a chapter on recent research and also on deeper understanding of longer practices for people who are already quite advanced in their mindfulness practice.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

So yes, I was debating whether to sign it or not. And I then decided around the 11th or 12th of March to sign it. I had already booked a flight from London to Vienna on the 16th of March, and that was the last flight that was allowed to land in Vienna from [inaudible 00:30:11].

Rose:

Oh, lucky.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And I had booked it in November. And on the 17th, they pronounced lockdown. And so, I was locked down in our flat in Vienna. And we were allowed to go to chemists and shopping, but with masks and only individuals. Initially, it was very strict. That’s why in Austria, it was quite contained, I think the second best nation after New Zealand dealing with COVID-19. And so obviously, my mindfulness guide starts in the introduction talking about COVID-19. So I now had weeks and months actually available ’cause my clients only slowly could be persuaded to actually work online with me rather than in person. But most of them I could, not persuade, but offer my services in that way if they needed it.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

But I had a lot of time for writing and for doing research. And so in my case, I was not bored at all. I was actually quite relieved that there was social distancing, etcetera, because I really … They only gave me like four months to complete such a huge book. And partially my own fault because I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to sign the contract or not. And then I did and then I flew here and then lockdown happened.

Rose:

It’s funny because there’s some elements of good things being brought out of what’s happening in this situation. And it’s funny because instantly, when you said, “Oh, the 16th of March,” I’m thinking oh, what’s the numerology of that day? Because obviously here at numerologist.com, we are all about numerological significance as well so I might go back and have a look at that.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

How weird is that because on the 17th of March was my first day here in Vienna. And my name is Patrizia, which is the same root as Patrick and that’s the name day for St. Patrick. I was also a little bit kind of-

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

How weird is that?

Rose:

All these universal synchronicity-

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Not that many people celebrate name days nowadays. Anyway, if you know anything numerologically significant, you can tell me.

Rose:

Yeah. I’m going to have a look at the numbers of that day after this and I’ll put them in the show notes if I find anything interesting.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Oh, great.

Rose:

All right-

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

You can always send me an email.

Rose:

I will, I will for sure.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Brilliant. Thank you.

Rose:

It’s been really, really nice to speak to you. What I’m going to do is I’ll put links to your books in the show notes for this so if any of our listeners want to have a look, it’ll be there. And when does this new Godsfield guide come out? Do you know yet?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Well, it’s going to probably be beginning of next year because I’m turning it in at the end of this week, and then going to do illustrations and the printing and everything, and they actually said they have a backlog for books to come out at Christmas. And they said it wouldn’t really serve you to come out with 10 other books on mindfulness. So they’ll [inaudible 00:33:42] the New Year’s resolution or something like that.

Rose:

Okay, well, we’ll put the links to your current books now and our listeners will just have to look out for your book coming out next year because it seems like a definite one I would like to read, and it sort of helps people across a wide range of different areas of their life so-

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Exactly. And you don’t have to read it all. So you can handpick the chapters.

Rose:

Absolutely.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

And of course, put a link to my Enter Mindfulness page because I also train people one to one via Skype or Zoom in eight-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy calls so-

Rose:

Okay. So what’s that website? Can you just say it here so people can hear it as well?

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Www.entermindfulness.com.

Rose:

Excellent. All right, Patrizia, thanks so much for joining me today and I will speak to you soon.

Dr. Patrizia Collard:

Thank you very much. Bye.

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