2: The Evolution of Brain Spotting with Dr. David Grand

2: The Evolution of Brain Spotting with Dr. David Grand

  • Show Notes

    Step into the world of Brainspotting with the developer, Dr. David Grand as he unveils the intricate tapestry of connection, intuition, and trust.

    In this podcast episode, Cherie Lindberg welcomes Dr. David Grand, father of the Brainspotting method. Dr. Grand reveals how trust, intuition, and the neuro-experiential model are key to healing, bridging divides, and exploring new possibilities. Dr. Grand shares personal stories from his past, highlighting the significance of human connections and bridge-building across cultural divides. He emphasizes the importance of open-mindedness, intuition, and the capacity for trust in the healing process.

    Dr. Grand, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Ph.D. from International University, is renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the areas of healing trauma and enhancing performance and creativity. His Brainspotting method and BioLateral Sound are now used by thousands of therapists on every continent seeking to break through the limitations of talk therapy.

    Dr. Grand is the author of Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change and Emotional Healing at Warp Speed. In addition, he is the co-author of This Is Your Brain on Sports. Dr. Grand’s clients include professional athletes, entertainers, business leaders and survivors of profound trauma (including 9/11, Katrina, Newtown and Iraq/Afghanistan combat veterans). They have all sought out his powerful method as a means to realize the kind of personal, professional and creative breakthroughs. Dr. Grand conducts a private psychotherapy and performance-enhancement practice in Manhattan and Long Island, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grand’s work at brainspotting.com.

    Want to know how you can begin your journey to hope and healing? Visit Elevated Life Academy for classes and free resources for personal development and healing.



    Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change and Emotional Healing at Warp Speed

    This Is Your Brain on Sports



  • Transcript

    [00:00:36] Cherie Lindberg: All right. I'm joined by Dr. David Grand. And our topic is going to be about brain spotting, the evolution of brain spotting. And I'm going to let you start from there, David, whatever you'd like to share.

    [00:01:27] David Grand: Well, On the calendar, I discovered brain spotting in March 2003. But who I was at that moment and where I had been in my life up until then, and what my journey and my journeys had been. Going back to my beginnings have everything to do with who I was at the moment that I had the, had the discovery and who I have been since then and who I am right now.

    So. Again, the, the story of brain spotting is a longer story and a deeper story and one with multiple strands. So I'm going to tell you a story now that, or two stories that go back to when I was 17 years old. And that summer I went to Israel on a program called Torah Corps.

    It was actually called Mitzvah Corps. . Mitzvah is a good deed. And so I went with a group of 17 year olds, and we were stationed like in the middle of Israel, you know, like right between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. And this was really in a neighborhood that was both Israeli and Arab. There was this park that was filled with junk and everything.

    And we worked there under supervision cleaning up the park, and turning it into a place, a playground for kids. It was a pretty big stretch. We also traveled around Israel by touring. I had two very formative experiences there and they were in the context of connection and relationship. Where we were staying there were groups of Israeli young people around who were in basically the same age category.

    And we got to know them and hang out with them in the evening . It was a very rich experience. But I clicked with this one guy whose name was Nachman.

    But it was such an amazing connection and we became such instant close friends. And he was a special guy. He was heading towards being in the air force, which in Israel is like, you have to be the top of the top to make it into the air force. And we just spent a lot of time together and hung out and talked and so on.

    But it was just this chemistry. And back then there was no such thing as email. Forget about email. So we weren't able to to maintain contact after that, but that's only one of two stories.

    The other story is at that same time my parents and my sister were in Israel, and they were in Jerusalem. So on the weekends, we pretty much had the weekends off. We would pretty much hang out. So on one of the weekend days, I went into Jerusalem from where I was. It took two bus rides and you know, I had rudimentary Hebrew and in traveling on the bus, I had to be able to communicate enough to see where the bus was going and so on, and I'd come back at night. It would be dark. But there was a connecting bus. So, when I came back. It was like a young man who was kind of at the, you know, same kind of age and he was there at the connection, the connecting bus.

    So we started talking. He was a Palestinian young man. His name was Mahmoud. And we, in a completely different way, had a chemistry. And we just met and it was like happenstance. And it was pretty much every week that we met, and we'd hang out and talk . And when the buses came, we were disappointed. Well, he invited me to come back to his family home for a meal. Now you might think, well, you know, Jewish person and with a Palestinian Arab and so on. Maybe I shouldn't go or this and that. Everything told me that it was fine and it was good. And I went back to his family and they had a meal and they were the most hospitable people I've ever met.

    And I've often thought of what it meant to me to make this connection with him and then with his family, just out of absolute happenstance. But it wasn't actually till I was thinking about talking about this, that I was wondering what, if any effect it had on, on him, you know. But that was, you know 1969.

    I was in Israel when they had the first moon landing. I remember seeing that in some store windows, some crazy stuff. Now with what's going on right now in November 2023 I guess this podcast will be listened to now, but it'll be listened to in the future. These stories are particularly resonant.

    What does this have to do with with brain spotting? It's all about connection and it's all about being open to connection with other people. And them connecting with, with you at the same time. And we've had some trainings in Arab countries and Muslim countries. Indonesia has a big brain spotting community. They're a Muslim nation, but they're not an Arab nation. They're far off in Asia. But I've always had a desire to bring brain spotting to the Arab world and the Muslim world. And I'm working on connections, you know, and the ultimate would be to have a training with a Palestinian and Israeli therapist together, because it's about bridge building.

    Okay. How do we find our way out of these impossibly tragic, traumatizing times? The only way is to be able to build bridges towards each other. And not let the bridges be torn down or blown up by others, or if it is to just start building them again. So, I'm gonna turn the tables on you and ask you a question.

    Since you've known me for quite a number of years and we've worked together, you know closely. As I've been giving this answer to your question, which is certainly not what you were expecting, wondering what's been going on inside of you?

    [00:07:03] Cherie Lindberg: Well, what i'm noticing is you're asking that question, David, is this is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a trainer and join you in spreading brain spotting because I think when we get past the pretenses and we get past the masks, we reach humanity and that that is the most important aspect of people living connected, inspiring lives. And that there's so much suffering and trauma out there that people carry with them that is not necessary, but we don't know that because a lot of it is learned behavior programming. So you know, being honored to be able to be a trainer and help people learn that it doesn't have to be that way, is kind of a mission that that I have.

    [00:07:52] David Grand: And brain spotting lends itself to that because brain spotting doesn't have an agenda except to receive and show up in such a way that promotes healing that hasn't been able to happen without it.

    I'll tell you another story. This was a few years before brain spotting. I was fortunate and honored to be invited to present at a conference in Jerusalem, a trauma conference, International Trauma Conference called AMHA, which means our nations.

    And actually that's where I met Peter Levine for the first time. And that influenced me in my trajectory towards brainspotting and influenced me personally. But here's, here's this, again, this is in Israel, in Jerusalem and this was before the second intifada. And I'm not going to even define what that is, but it was bad times.

    And at this conference, there were three Palestinian therapists who were there. Two therapists, one, a psychiatric nurse. And I was struck by the fact that they were there, you know, and I felt it took courage on their part to come. Not, there was no danger or anything, but again, there's been so much, so much strife and so much enmity.

    And so, you know, in the spirit of what we're talking about, you know, at breakfast, I went over and I said, is it okay if I sit down with you? Cause they were kind of by themselves. And they welcomed me, it was two two men and a woman, and the men were very friendly. Palestinians, part of the Arab culture, is real friendliness, hospitality, and so on.

    It's a tragedy that that isn't known by people who are on the other side. But the woman was kind of standoffish, a little bit hostile. Not in a negative way. They never took it in a negative way. But she was talking about how the Israelis had taken all the Arabic food and, you know, stolen it from them, not really stolen. It wasn't the word she used, but it was like, you know, appropriating. And, and that it wasn't as good as when it's made by Arabs. So, you know, it was pretty good food to me, but, you know, I'm always curious and adventurous, and food is one of the great ways to do it. But I was determined that I was going to break down the barrier with her, show up enough until it came down.

    That's the bridge building. And to me, this is like one of the most important things I can do in my life on this planet. And I kept on going over for breakfast, you know, got to be comfortable. And once the barrier came down, it was amazing. Just absolutely amazing. And this is what can happen. This is what happens in healing. And this is what happens in terms of healing divides among people and peoples. One of the therapists there was talking about a client of his who had been terribly traumatized by something he saw, terrible thing he saw, and he had this symptom that his eyes hurt. When your eyes hurt, it doesn't make a difference whether it's physical pain or emotional pain, okay? You've probably experienced that at certain points or people, you know, feel like burning in their eyes or things that you process that is it's part of the Neuroocular systems. And I said to him, If you'd like I could go into a session. I was doing a combination of different things at that point.

    [00:11:05] David Grand: And he was very appreciative and gracious about it. And he arranged and he took me and we went along with people who were sitting there at the table. And so we crossed from Jerusalem into Ramallah. And I can like still see it going through the border crossing and at that point, and feeling a little bit nervous. We got into Ramallah, they had their own police and they were directing traffic. And there were cars and there were people in the streets. There was so much energy, so much positive energy, and I was so struck by it.

    And so, it just got into me, you know? At that point there were a lot of exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, business wise, academically, all these things. And it was a tragedy when the second intifada hit and that just went away. But those experiences, those memories are still out there, you know?

    And he brought me to meet with this man. And his therapist was sitting in with me and we did this session and some deep processing and turns out he had lost pretty much everything after this incident, and we processed that and we processed earlier life stuff and it was like 90 minutes and so on I wish I knew brain spotting, you know, in retrospect. And this man had been brought low, but the way that I worked with him is I looked up to him in every way. And I asked him permission for me to work and to do everything. And so, he was helped. His symptom was reduced.

    I want to share these experiences with everybody who listens to your podcast. Because it speaks to the opposite of what's happening now, with the the killing and the tragedy that's going on. I'll come back to you and say, you asked me to talk about the development of brain spotting.

    And I'm wondering how you see these stories and this last story as being deeply interwoven into the development of brain spotting.

    [00:13:00] Cherie Lindberg: Well, I just, I keep thinking about where brain spotting started and where it's evolving into. And I think, for me, it comes back to humanity and dignity and treating people like human beings being open, like you said, being willing to connect. But I know that when trauma happens to folks, our systems can go into shutdown and can go into protective spaces.

    [00:13:30] David Grand: I call that contraction.

    [00:13:32] Cherie Lindberg: Yeah, we contract. That's part of what we need to, I think, speak to more and more, because it's so unfortunate that for so many people that if they have something happen to them very, very young informative years, they contract and sometimes never look back. And their whole life can be about contraction and in terms of my own experiences, that happened to me until EMDR and brain spotting. And I often say that EMDR reduced my PTSD symptoms and brain spotting made my soul come alive. But not everybody has that opportunity.

    [00:14:09] David Grand: Right. But when we talk about brain spotting, we tend to talk about the techniques, and the models and even the processes.

    We don't get a chance to talk enough about the being and the deep experience, you know, and that everything is in the context of our lives. Therapy can be so separated out from the rest of life, and it's like the idea that when a person comes in. This is the psychological model, that's what we're going to deal with here, which can be inorganic, which is the whole person and their experience. It's the totality of who a person is that we receive. The focus is on what they're suffering with that they can't get past. What they're blocked with, who they can't be, what they can't feel, what they can't think and feel and do and all this stuff.

    You know, everybody has so many stories. Everybody has been so many places. Everybody has so many different aspects to who they are. I did a a session up in Newtown with a man who was not particularly skilled in verbal communication.

    He had been very traumatized by his exposures. And at some point started to talk about music. Again, if a person comes for therapy and you're trying to focus on this thing, but it was just the fact that it came up and he told me that he was a musician and he played multiple instruments. And I looking at where his eyes went and all this stuff? It was just so deeply personal. You talk about the larger brain spotting or the deeper brain spotting. This, this is what it's about. We don't have protocols. We don't have preordained steps that, that we have to go through and what we're looking for is happenstance, you know, the surprise, the unexpected. And when it comes out, that's, that's an opportunity for healing you can't get otherwise, you know? And you can't manufacture it.

    But if you are working from uncertainty, like you can't know exactly this system is too vast. And if you receive and hold the person's frame with them, whatever happens is what's supposed to happen. And it might not look like what's supposed to happen in a therapy session or a trauma session or a processing session.

    But when it happens, that's where we go. That's being open to the universe. That's, you know, that's where you help, that's where you help the soul to heal.

    And you know what, Cherie, after that, you never know where the person goes, you know?

    [00:16:30] Cherie Lindberg: I think what I would add there, David, is that you see things that other people do not see. And I would agree with you. It's about being with, not about what we do, but our presence with the person. And then I would also speak to the fact what brain spotting is for me is freedom. And you've spoke to this with the neuro experiential model of compliance, being able to do what is needed in that moment that best serves the client creates a freedom for creativity that if we were following protocols, we would miss the boat, we would miss the surprise, as you say.

    [00:17:10] David Grand: Yeah, we would either block it or we wouldn't help potentiate it. The issue of me seeing what other people don't see, that's what creatively gifted people do. That's what artists do. But it's the fact that I'm not looking at the same things that everybody else is looking at just cause everybody else is looking at the same stuff. Doesn't mean that I'm going to look at it. It doesn't mean I'm not gonna look at it. But I'm not gonna focus on it to the degree of not seeing what's around it.

    You know, there's foreground and background in art, it's called negative space. So we're all so programmed and conditioned into you know, trying to conform, trying to comply. What society, you know, demands of us. And you can either not be rewarded or you could be deprived, or even punished. So what happens is one of the tragedies for creatively gifted children is that they're traumatized in their own giftedness.

    When everybody is looking in one direction, look there and then look around and let your eyes wander.

    This is what happens in brain spotting, which is a person's eyes can slowly or quickly get magnetized to a spot, you know, look around and look at it's intuitive process. You don't try it, you just let your eyes kind of drift to where they go and see what draws your attention.

    Not because you're thinking your way there, but you're intuiting your way there. So that's sort of an explanation of my ability to see things that other people don't see. In, in EMDR, it is taught that if you're having the person track your fingers, go back and forth, if they stop tracking your fingers at a certain point, that is defined as a tracking problem. The goal is to then get their attention and get them to move off of that spot to continue following your fingers. And this happens with everybody who does EMDR with people. Some people have tracking problems. Well the idea that if your eyes stop in that spot and stop tracking, there must be a powerful reason that it happens.

    And then to be curious about why it happens, when it happens, where it happens. Instead of going along with the idea that it's a tracking problem that has to be remediated, it's what, you know, it's just to have a sensibility to say, well, what, what is this? Is this something? And if I didn't have that, you know I would have seen that eye wobble that the skater went into as a problem instead of a the, the deepest of portals.

    [00:19:35] Cherie Lindberg: And look where we are now.

    [00:19:37] David Grand: Yeah. Yeah. And the evolution of brain spotting in these 20 years has been first developing it as a technique, the technical model, and then developing it as a technical model and a relational context, and then, gradually more and more open model. You know, the human system is an open system.

    It only stops being open when it has to contract. The human system is open and the whole thing about the neuro experiential model is another version of what I've been talking about. Just cause everybody is saying that this is what it is and this is how you have to do it. It's like, well, why? You know, are there other opportunities or possibilities? Doesn't mean that every place you look, you're going to see something of great significance. But if you keep looking, every once in a while you do. But if you don't, you never see it.

    It's like I always say, every therapist around the world should know about gaze spotting because every client who comes into every session gaze spots. And their, their neuro visual system is communicating something to the therapist and the therapist probably doesn't even notice it because it's so intuitive.

    And if they do, then they wouldn't particularly have any curiosity about it or wonder if it has anything to do with what's going on. And if they did, they probably wouldn't have an idea, the idea, well then just keep looking over there and watch what happens. You know, they're thinking about taking a history or forming a diagnosis or a treatment plan and so on.

    And they're not even like observing some of the most basic things of how the person shows up and expresses themselves. Does it make me so smart that I saw that and I figured out and I made use of that? I don't think so. Some people think so. It's just people aren't looking openly, they're not searching.

    And for me, I'm still searching as much as I was 20 years ago. And I was five years ago, and one year ago, and one week ago, one day ago. You know, I'm always going to be searching, because there's so much in our universes that we know this much about it. How could you not be openly searching?

    [00:21:41] Cherie Lindberg: Agreed. I look forward to seeing where things are going to go. Especially with what we're learning. There's more and more science coming out now about biofield science and sitting and holding that sacred space for for clients. You can't help but feel the exchange that's going on between you know, the client and I would say the healer because it could be a therapist. It could be, you know, many, many different folks that could hold space for for folks healing. And understanding how these spots can help us get deeper access inside of ourselves. I just had an experience when I was in Peru where they did a water ceremony and I put myself on a, on a brain spot during that because I was feeling so terrified and I, it did not make any logical sense that I was feeling so terrified.

    You know, over this water ceremony where they were going to pour water over my head, , but I, I was in a state of terror. And I really believe that having myself on that spot helped me get a deeper access to that terror. And I was able to soothe myself during that process. And a big release happened that I've never been able to access that deep level of terror before, so, you know, we're ever evolving. We're, we're ever changing, but I, I do believe that if we have the wherewithal to understand putting yourself on a spot and that you can access these felt sense States that we get into, that we can facilitate our own release center and our own healing.

    [00:23:21] David Grand: Well so that water ceremony was led by a shaman? Where did that shaman learn what they, what they know?

    [00:23:28] Cherie Lindberg: Well, it's from their lineage, right? And not just in their, their lineage, they have a lot of beliefs around different aspects of the earth, Pachimama the Apus, which are the mountains, they believe that the elements hold messages. And that the Pachamama, which is the earth and Apus, which is the mountains, they teach the shamans. And then there's previous lineage that it gets passed through the generations.

    [00:23:54] David Grand: And you can feel this indigenous wisdom when it's shared with you or you're exposed to it. And it doesn't have to make a hell of a lot of sense on a cognitive, neocortical basis, but on an, an intuitive basis, it makes a tremendous amount of sense that you could never put into thought or words. And if you did, it would just take away from what it is.

    Part of the neuro experiential model is that indigenous wisdom, it's not just that we're open to it. That's like a Western thing while we're open to it. It's that we're seeking it out, that we want it to be infused into our knowledge base and our wisdom so that we can know more and, and promote better healing.

    Here's the last thing on this I want to just discuss with you, which is Machu Picchu. I was there, I don't know, about eight years ago . Do you know approximately when it was built?

    [00:24:41] Cherie Lindberg: I know a little bit about the history.

    [00:24:43] David Grand: It's at least four or five hundred years ago. Not even to mention the pyramids in Egypt. The Incas who built it and built so many other things and all the other the Aztecs and the Mayans. How did they know how to build it? In terms of, it was nothing Western about it. What happened is when the Spaniards came in, you know, that's when it was taken away from them to oversimplify it. Okay. How did they know you saw it with your own eyes? You climbed it, you walked around it. For our understanding, it's, it's an impossibility, because of the delimit, our delimited viewpoint. The Western viewpoint is like they couldn't have done that, you know? Well, they did that long before westerners were able to do things like that.

    It was not just intuitive, but it was highly developed. The capacities for engineering and architecture and so on. That's why Western is going to say, Oh my God, I can't believe this. That's because we're looking at it through a Western lens.

    People who are local and indigenous, they don't look at it that way. Nobody has to explain it to them. They, they know it. They understand it. It's their culture, their history.

    [00:25:47] Cherie Lindberg: And they, they honored astronomers and the knowledge that they had through watching the stars and the seasons. It's amazing how some of the temples and, and so forth lined up with the, the different seasons. And when the, when the sun will come in at a precise time and so forth. And they, they lined up the buildings with all of that knowledge.

    [00:26:11] David Grand: Mm hmm. And because the stars and the sun and the moon are always appearing to move with each day with each month with each season, it's not like it was just fixed in space. They had to understand the they had their own calendar.

    I, I don't recall if this is true. They might've had a lunar calendar, you know?

    [00:26:28] Cherie Lindberg: Yeah, but they also used a sundial. They had a really huge sundial that would also help them. Yeah, so they, they use simple things for very complicated understandings.

    [00:26:39] David Grand: Again, this is very much related to the, to brain spotting and to the neuro experiential model, which I only put out less than two and a half years ago. I was developing it before that, but that's how recent it is.

    And one of the most important reasons that I did it is to help liberate as many people as possible so that they could go on their own journeys of discovery and find things that I would never be able to or have the opportunity to, you know? It's led to be an opening for people.

    [00:27:06] Cherie Lindberg: It certainly has. And, you know, prior to you doing that, I was fearful of talking about biofield science or intuition. And now I see it as, as critical to being a good healer. That having yourself be able to be free to be creative, trusting your, your intuition that felt sense of energy that you're feeling from your clients, that having an understanding, your own understanding of what that is makes you a better healer, makes you more present so that you know, you can hold that space in a meaningful way that that client needs.

    [00:27:44] David Grand: Mm hmm. And if we're going to use the word science around that, I call it open science. And open science is looking outward and is searching, is humble and knowing the great limitations of what we know in the context of what there is to potentially know, which is endless.

    [00:28:01] Cherie Lindberg: Well, it's the sense of discovery and exploration versus finite.

    [00:28:05] David Grand: Mm hmm. Well, the universe and all the universes and all the forces in it are, are infinite.

    [00:28:10] Cherie Lindberg: And this is where we lead into that the neuroexperiential model is a model of expansion.

    [00:28:17] David Grand: Yep. And neuroexperiential healing and brain spotting helps people to come out of the contraction, which is a survival contraction. And begin to expand their way out of it. You know, there are two opposing forces, contraction and expansion. And when the system is able to intuit that it is no longer under threat, and it no longer has to maintain the survival contraction, that's when it can begin to explore, you know, bits of expansion here and there. Which I would say I would also characterize as trust.

    [00:28:51] Cherie Lindberg: And you start to move into new possibilities, new mindsets, new, new ways of, of living.

    [00:28:57] David Grand: I know we're coming towards the end, but I want to leave you with something that is germane to what we're talking about right now. We say that people who have experienced trauma, profound trauma. The dynamic is that, that it is a profound loss of choice and control.

    That's pretty part of our trauma wisdom, but I want to add something to that. That not only do we lose the capacity for trust for, for just tip my hand for a choice and control, we, we lose the capacity to trust. That's the third thing. That goes along. So healing is not just regaining the experience of choice and control, which is part of coming out of contraction, but it is beginning to regain the capacity for trust.

    [00:29:41] Cherie Lindberg: I would add that as you regain that capacity for trust, your intuition to discern who is trustworthy and who is not also comes on board.

    [00:29:51] David Grand: Absolutely. You know, it's trusting the universe and trusting human beings.

    [00:29:55] Cherie Lindberg: Well, I want to thank you for taking the time to come and have this discussion with me so that we can put it out into the world and, and see, see where it goes. And I hope it, it lands with curiosity and, and openness and that folks might take a look at brainspotting.com and learn more about how brain spotting could help people move out of contraction.

    [00:30:19] David Grand: And it's, and it's not about brainspotting, it's about the ideas. Yeah.

    [00:30:23] Cherie Lindberg: Living differently. Potentially. Yeah.

    Well, thank you, David Grand. I appreciate it.

    [00:30:30] David Grand: Thank you. Cherie Lindberg.