S3E6 The Return

The Return: We are back!

After almost one year, Dr. Pete and Dr. Rubin return to When East Meets West and, in true form of their commitment to mindfulness, they frame this return episode within a mindful and values-based way. Like most of you they have been busy and had to make the decision to stay on hiatus, but they are back. They will bring new episodes to complete season 3 and keep throwing knowledge for the world to improve and to decrease suffering. Tune in to hear about their time off and what to expect for the upcoming episodes.


Pete: I am Dr. Pete Economou, the East Coast psychologist.


Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Rubin, the West Coast psychologist.


Pete: And this is When East


Nikki: Meets West.


Pete: Well, it has been quite some time, but there is no time like this moment for the return, Dr. Nikki.


Nikki: [inaudible 0:20]


Pete: I forgot everyone call you Dr. Nikki. 


Nikki: Sure. You call me Dr. Nikki.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Much longer hiatus than we anticipated.


Pete: Well, that's life isn’t it?


Nikki: It is. It's funny like for anybody that's listening that, you know, thinks about like when you get away from something, you know, it's like, oh, I get away from, I can't do it anymore. You know Pete and I were talking about this, because we were thinking, that's kind of what our job is. That's kind of what mindfulness is, is that you get away from something, you get off track and you can always come back. You can always return, you know? So, almost a year of no episodes and now here we are.


Pete: It is almost a year, probably by the time we get all the editing done and which is not too much for the listeners, it's not a ton of editing. We are very just in the moment candid and like improve…. because I've missed you. I mean, we've still talk obviously. 


Nikki: Obviously. Yes.


Pete: But, it was really nice being able to connect like this, you know, so I think we may have found a compromise. So for the listeners we're trying with a new compromise, which is changing up the cadence, changing up the location, geography, things like that. That sort of flow, flexibility and hoping that we can get some more content out there, because this is something that still aligns with our values.


Nikki: Absolutely. And we're just kind of reconnecting today with some of the foci.


Pete: I never liked it, it doesn't make sense. So you're smart grammar, that's why you would even know that. Most of us wouldn't even know that.


Nikki: Yeah. But I think if I said focuses, it's like, that doesn't sound right.


Pete: It's like a tongue twister.


Nikki: It sounds weird….in some of the themes of this podcast.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Yeah, so like what you're talking about too is like the workability of things and you know, Pete and I like everybody, we like to get away from stuff.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And the podcast honestly was something that as much as we love doing it and have loved doing it we both in just with things going on in our personal lives and professional lives. We were frankly just like too busy and every time we wanted to connect, we actually wanted to just like catch up as friends.


Pete:  You mean like the hour and a half that we've done before, just click and record?


Nikki: Correct. We didn't feel like talking about psychology and then I say that just to be really genuine here that again, like sometimes we don't feel like doing things that maybe do align with our values and that's okay. 


Pete: That is Okay.


Nikki: And why did we call this episode the return? Coming back to what I was saying a moment ago is that whenever you're off track from a direction you want to go, you can always choose to reroute and come back and in mindfulness and very literally, like in meditation, that is what you're doing. Like your brain is going to go somewhere else. Like that is what's supposed to do, that's not you doing mindfulness wrong, that's you being a human. But the return back to the moment is always available and I think that's just a helpful thing that at least for myself, I need to constantly reconnect to and remind myself about. Because it is easy to kind of say like, I don't know, am I really going to go back and do this, I'm busy? But here we are, doing another episode.


Pete: Yeah, I mean, you called me a beautiful bulldozer before.


Nikki: I did, when we were just having regular ketchup, I called Pete my beautiful bulldozer.


Pete: So, I don't think I've bulldozed you, but I certainly have been a bit assertive. Our producers would be so mad at us if they existed for us.


Nikki: If they were real, they would.


Pete: If they were real maybe they would keep us on track and the hour and a half would've been a lot of good content.


Nikki: That would've been a lot of content.


Pete: Actually, when you sit and meditate one of the things that people always say to me that I love correcting is that there is no blankness.


Nikki: Yes.


Pete: You know, there's no nothingness, there is no silence. And that's why like Eckhart Tolle, one of his books is “Silence Speaks”. So when you sit, it's loud and as you sit over time, you learn how to control the volume and you could lower the volume, but there will always be something there. And, so that's what we're doing now we're returning to this thing that, in all fairness, I love a little bit more than you do.  And that's okay.


Nikki: That's not totally true. You know, Pete doesn't like that I say this, but I mean it as a compliment to myself as I say I'm very lazy on the inside. Which, what I mean by that, I don't mean it in the judgment sense, I mean it that I just love like hanging out. I just like sitting, I like being still, I like not talking.


Pete: Well, we also talked about our different beaches because I went to the beach, did you go to the beach this weekend, because you live right by the beach?


Nikki: I did not because it's been raining. 


Pete: Oh, the West Coast needs some rain, so we're thankful for that.


Nikki: Yeah, we're so grateful for that.


Pete: Yeah. But me going to the beach today was a little different than the west coast beach, even with the rain because it was cold but it's so nice when you can still go. I mean, it's one of the my favorite things to do on the East coast where you're able to listen to the beach, listen to the sound of the ocean still feel that salty air, which is so healthy for you. I left saying, why am I not doing this more often? And I was so thankful that we've been able to do that twice in the last few weeks and bring the dogs there, let them run around and it's been great. So coming back to all those things that are important to us, and it's okay that When East Meets West is just slightly more important to me than it is to you.


Nikki: To be fair, it's not so much that it's that, I think it's a good example of; there are certain things that feel like harder for different people. 


Pete: Absolutely.


Nikki: And so that's another like, concept with the return. So for me this is something that I personally find it difficult to make space for. Not because I don't like doing it because I do really like doing it. It does really align with my values, I love talking to Pete and I'm a human so my brain's going to want to….


Pete: You work a lot.


Nikki: Yeah. I work a lot but it's also that it's easy to get in our routines and this is also important, this concept of the return is that, you know, I'm always like talking about with patients, like, you know, brains can get rigid about anything even values. And so, my brain might go like, well I want to prioritize this one value over this other one. And so, you know, Pete gave me an opportunity to pause and say, is this something that I want to return back to? 


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Which to be clear, we don't have to return back to everything. Sometimes we can just totally change direction and that's okay too.


Pete: Absolutely. 


Nikki: But, in this context, for me at least, was about saying, is this something that aligns, that feels right. That is as a place that I want to move back towards, even though it feels hard even though we got away from that. 


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And again, our listeners are probably going like, this is a lot of conversation about why you're coming back to this podcast. But I hope those that are listening are understanding the point that we're trying to make, which is that this is just how things are in life. That we get away from things that are helpful or important to us and we then forget that we have the option to return.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And so it's like, you can always come back. That's the thing. It's like a beautiful realization when you connect to that truth but we've got to sometimes be reminded about that.


Pete: Well, thank you for that because you're also modeling. So like you said, listeners might be like, what the heck? Like, why am I tuning in for this? It's modeling that, you know, we're human. So, how has the last few months been for you? I know you're like teaching and practice and all this stuff going on, so you're just balancing all that out or what?


Nikki: Yeah, I think like with everything for everybody it's just busy. But you know, at least for my [inaudible 09:20] like some very good busy things, but also busy nonetheless.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And I think that's also important to say is that sometimes we often talk about when things are really hard and the stress that creates, but when things are actually like nice or like happy things are happening or good things are going on, that's also stress. 


Pete: Absolutely.


Nikki: Yeah. So, I think the point being is that life is just like stuff. You know what I mean? 


Pete: Yeah, there's lots of stuff.


Nikki: There's just stuff.


Pete: Well, in the east what we focus on is that there's stuff which is pain and we don't have to suffer. And I think that has been something I've just been reminding myself of lately as well as clients that, we're always going to have challenges, but the idea of suffering. And so, when you come to the cushion for meditation, you're really trying to build a relationship with the pain. You know, like it's one of the things kind of nuances, like leaning into the pain, you know, growth, which we've talked about. I wanted to also just like refer in season two, I think episode two we talked about beginner's mind, which is return feels like to me a little bit.


Nikki: A hundred percent. It's what I mean beginner's mind as I was just talking about the other day with some students actually, it's like one of my remains one of my favorite concepts personally. Like, I really hook into that and it's about the return, it's sort of dialectical, right, because it's like coming back to something as if it's new.


Pete: Yes, exactly, beautiful. Coming back as if this is new, you know, and our friendship's not new. Our connection not new but we return to it to say, is there something we can keep building to disseminate this information and really just help people grow because there's so much out there. I think the other thing, at least for me in the past few months is that there's definitely the post COVID thing is happening, you know? I think that we don't know exactly what it is, but everyone's seeing it. Like, whether it's on a flight where the people are acting differently still, there's just this thing. You know, you're seeing like high school kids that are just getting in trouble maybe than they would not have in the past. Or there's just this post COVID thing.


Nikki: Yeah. Well I think just because there's been some unbelievably major like disruptions, I mean, it's like an understatement of the year, but that’s the best way I guess I could say it right now. And again, after something like that, there's a reorienting back to reality and I think that's also part of the return, right? 


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Which is to say like, okay, so we've all come through in different ways, shapes, forms, you know, not just COVID itself, but everything that's happened in the past few years. There's like too many things to name, like where am I now? Where am I landing? How do I digest and synthesize, you know, everything that I've gone through. And again, like returning to this moment, returning to your values, returning to connection. You know, sometimes very literally, I mean part of the moment, but returning back to like feeling your feet firmly planted on the ground like that's what we can do. And to the point that you're just making Pete in Buddhist practice it's about having a different relationship with pain, right, to make space for it. 


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: You know, I think that's also something that like, obviously we talk a lot about that in third wave CBT and Act, which we've borrowed from Zen Buddhism. But over and over again, what do humans say and want and do it's like, okay, but if I do this enough. You know, if I return back enough, if I make enough space for the pain, great then I'm just not going to struggle anymore. And it's like, that's the fantasy that there's like this imaginary future where nothing is ever disrupted. Nothing is ever hard and it's like that doesn't exist.


Pete: Yeah. Everybody I work with wants that. It's like almost the first thing that comes up. 


Nikki:  It's universal. It's human.


Pete: Yeah. It's human. But you know, of course also working with like athletes and high functioning performing executives are just like, so when I do this what am I looking for, what's the outcome? And it's like, no outcome. And they're like, well I don't get that. There's no such thing as no outcome but that's really what we're looking for is that there's no outcome. And so we're just returning. 


Nikki: We're returning to right now. That's what I'm saying, what I find endlessly fascinating is like, it is only human. Other animals don't have this problem because they can't use language and I'm sure they can imagine, they're very smart and certainly we don't know the extent of their cognitive capabilities, but they don't have the ability to imagine to the extent that we do. Every possible outcome we can think of, trying to control things and so, they're much better just biologically at just not even returning they're just in the right now, right?


Pete: That’s it. And we're trying to emulate that right. That's why you and I love dogs better than human, well, I love dogs better than humans, depends on the day.


Nikki: Depends on the day, yeah. 


Pete: I know we don't always want to say that, but I say that out loud often because they're always in the moment. You know, they are as quirky or whatever they're going through too, but they're just going through whatever they're going through. So you and I, you know, we are returning to this. We don't know what this is. We're not looking for outcome. We're just going through the process, we like each other. Makes it easy, we're good together.


Nikki: Yes.


Pete: And so we'll see what it is. But you know, I've missed you and hopefully for our listeners, we are back, this is the return. So, we're going to do our best to try and get out some new content like once or twice a month ish.


Nikki: Yes. But I think that maybe part of what we're doing is like, we're trying to just take it a step at a time.


Pete: One step at a time, yeah.


Nikki: Which means being consistent, but also like, that's what we're trying to model is just the walking. So, let's return back to that practice.


Pete: Yeah. So you know, I've missed you, I'm glad that we're back.


Nikki: I missed you. Yes.


Pete: And listeners, we missed you. So, tune in to When East Meets West because we will be bringing you some new content in the coming weeks so, you heard some of Nikki's Western behavioral approach with ACT and CBT. But in true Eastern form, not sure when, not sure how, not sure how frequent, but tune in, you're guaranteed to see something soon.


Pete: This has been When East Meets West. I'm Dr. Pete Economou.


Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Ruben. Be present, be brave.


Pete: This has been When East Meets West; all material is based on opinion and educational training of doctors Pete Economou and Nikki Rubin.


Nikki: Content is for informational and educational purposes only.