“With a loving mind, cherish more than a child, the hostile gods and demons of apparent existence” ~ Machig Labdrön.
Watch Lopön Chandra Easton and Eve Ekman Ph.D. in this interview where they discuss the ground-breaking Feeding Your Demons® Study. Eve and Lopön Chandra discuss the nature of the study, it’s goals, and preliminary findings as the data comes in. See below for more info on the study:
More on the Feeding Your Demons® Pilot Study:
Leading scientists in the fields of affective and clinical neuroscience and the contemplative science of meditation and emotion awareness, Philippe Goldin, PhD and Eve Ekman, PhD just completed a pilot community based study examining a truly cutting edge meditation practice.
Internationally renowned Buddhist teacher Lama Tsultrim Allione and Lopön Chandra Easton supported the first ever study of of Lama Tsultrim’s original five-step method and meditation practice, Feeding Your Demons® (FYD), with a community based sample. Feeding Your Demons® is a scripted psycho-spiritual approach to gaining insight and compassion for difficult and disturbing emotions. Unlike other forms of mindfulness this practice engages imagination and creativity to create a dialog with the darker side of our emotions (our demons) leading to a experiential, psychological understanding of our root needs and strengths.
The FYD study applied a community based participatory research approach collaborating with a meditation center in San Francisco to recruit participants. The community interest in participating in the study was overwhelming, over 120 people registered for only 60 spots within 48 hours. Participants were adults who reported some form of craving (alcohol, substances, and other). The 60 were randomly assigned to one of two groups back to back to provide a waitlist control design for this pilot study. The first group participated in 15 sessions of 30 minute guided visualization meditation of FYD over 30 days including three online guided sessions with facilitators and the remainder self guided with audio. After 30 days the second group started the practice. All participants took validated surveys on stress, anxiety, depression, self compassion and emotion regulation before the first group midway and after the second group completed. Additional, rich qualitative data was collected through a practice journal for each FYD session. The research questions for this pilot study are exploratory and aimed to understand more about the potential mental health benefits of FYD practices The study will examine potential benefits for both the short-term effects during each FYD meditation session on reducing craving and emotions, as well as the longer-term effects of one month of FYD meditation training on psychological skills that are known to alleviate stress, depression and anxiety symptoms. Our hope is that this initial study will help us begin to understand whether the FYD practice is effective at reducing symptoms of craving, anxiety and depression while improving self compassion, emotion regulation and self awareness for adults who experience craving including recovery from alcohol and/or substance abuse as craving associated with existential distress. The overwhelming rates of addiction and obesity in this country create a profound need for innovative non-pharmacological approaches to address the root of the psychological issues.
Eve Ekman, PhD is a contemplative social scientist and teacher in the field of emotional awareness and burnout prevention, who trained at UC Berkeley and University of California Osher Center. She is currently the Director of Training at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. At UCSF, Eve is a lead teacher in the evidenced based emotion awareness training Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB), which she has adapted and researched for use among health care providers. CEB training invites participants to investigate their driving motivations, as well as the roots of their destructive emotional episodes through tools of meditative practice and in-depth analysis of emotional events. In addition to her academic training, Dr. Ekman is a second-generation emotion researcher and has had meaningful collaborations with her father, renowned emotion researcher, Dr. Paul Ekman. Dr. Ekman’s writing on empathy, burnout and compassion has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, as well as in chapters in Oxford handbooks of positive psychology and the science of compassion.
Philippe Goldin, PhD is an an associate professor at University of California Davis, where he teaches, conducts research and mentors students in the areas of health promotion, clinical psychology and cognitive-affective neuroscience. Prior to UC Davis, Goldin led the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience group within the Psychology Department at Stanford University. Goldin serves as a consultant at Google in Mountain View, Calif., and is a founder of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence and leadership training program. His work focuses on adults with diagnosed mood, anxiety disorders and chronic pain disorders, as well as community samples of adults and children. Goldin’s work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, Clinical Psychological Science, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and the Biological Psychiatry.
Lama Tsultrim Allione is the founder and resident teacher of Tara Mandala, a retreat center located outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado and bestselling author of Women of Wisdom, Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict which is now translated into seventeen languages, and her new ground breaking book, Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Empowered Feminine. Born in New England, she traveled to Asia in her late teens and at the age of 22 became the first American woman to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Recognized in Tibet as the reincarnation of a renowned eleventh-century Tibetan-yogini, she is one of the only a few female lamas in the world today. She has a Master’s degree in Buddhist Studies and Women’s Studies from Antioch University and was awarded the international recognition of “Outstanding Women in Buddhism” by a panel of distinguished scholars and practitioners in Bangkok, Thailand.
Dorje Lopön Chandra Easton is a teacher and translator of Tibetan Buddhism. She is the Assistant Spiritual Director and Lead Authorized Teacher for Tara Mandala Retreat Center, founded by Lama Tsultrim Allione. She co-translated Sublime Dharma: A Compilation of Two Texts on the Great Perfection, published in 2012. She is currently on the Tara Mandala Board of Directors and the Tara Mandala Bay Area coordinating committee, through which she teaches and organizes events in the Bay Area. She is currently the Resident Teacher at Tara Mandala. Lopön Chandra is also a teacher of Shadow Yoga.
Praise for Feeding Your Demons®:
“Tsultrim Allione has performed a remarkable feat of cultural translation and offered the western world a new treasure. With exquisite detail and accuracy she shows us how we can transform the energy of addiction, shame, illness, anxiety, fear, and anger into the energy of liberation.” — from the forward by Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“In Feeding Your Demons Tsultrim Allione offers us a powerful and transformative practice…one that can heal the deepest wounds and reveal profound spiritual truths. What is so striking is how, through her own tremendous clarity and heart, Allione brings this practice alive and renders it truly accessible. This book will serve all those who want to untangle the tangles with wisdom and love.” — Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance
“Tsultrim Allione shows us what life could look like if we were not struggling, not hating ourselves for our problems and frailties, but rather were relating to these challenges with awareness and compassion. She illuminates a clear and practical guide to transformation, based on her many years of exceptional meditation training.” — Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
“Feeding Your Demons offers an original and powerful approach to challenging the forces at work in the shadows of our psyche. Tsultrim Allione has done a masterful job of translating ancient-and fascinating-methods to heal modern emotional troubles.” — Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Feeding Your Demons is a bold, beautiful, and original work, a book that Carl Jung could only have dreamed of writing. Bringing the wisdom of Tibet straight into our daily lives, Tsultrim Allione shares the accumulated fruits of her own deep understanding. She does this in a completely accessible way, taking the most profound insights and rendering them simply and straightforwardly without compromising them. This is an extraordinary accomplishment, a gift to all who read it.” — Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Psychotherapy without the Self