To live in the present is what mindfulness practice is. It is a tool to achieve optimal human performance. If you train and work out to make your body healthy, you should also train your thoughts and emotions to achieve optimal human performance! Listen to this episode to learn how to incorporate mindfulness practice into your daily life, whether you are working, walking, eating, or getting ready to sleep!

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Learn practical ways to practice mindfulness in this episode and hear about Ann’s personal experiences in using mindfulness to deal with negative thoughts or issues from her past that are affecting her present actions and performance. Hit the play button now!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Why it is good to incorporate mindfulness practice in your life.
  • Mindfulness practice is a form of metacognition.
  • Mindfulness practice is a form of brain and emotional training.
  • How to practice mindfulness when you are walking or eating.
  • Meditation is a mindfulness practice.
  • Mindfulness practice is a type of focus.
  • Ann shares the benefits of mindfulness practice and how it has helped her to deal with everyday life.
  • How you can start practicing mindfulness in your daily life – simple and easy steps.

Tweet This!

“Mindfulness practice is a form of brain and emotional training, that gives you metacognition, the ability to think about your thoughts and observe it and then provide a solution to it so that your thoughts are not just running around.” [00:02:37]

“To live in the present, that’s what mindfulness practice is.” [00:06:43]

“If you can train your mind, a monkey brain, if you’re not ruminating as much, then we can all be much more freeing, have this calmness, this inner peace, this joy, this happiness.” [00:15:56]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

It’s Not Rocket Science Show website

Ann Tsung on Facebook

Ann Tsung on LinkedIn

Ann Tsung on YouTube

Ann Tsung on Instagram

Ann Tsung on Twitter

Insight Timer website (free meditation app)

The 6 Phase Meditation Method: The Proven Technique to Supercharge Your Mind, Manifest Your Goals, and Make Magic in Minutes a Day

About Ann Tsung, MD


Ann Tsung, MD, MPH is a physician who is triple board-certified in emergency, critical care, and preventive/aerospace medicine. She is the podcast show host of It’s Not Rocket Science Show, and a real estate investor. Her mission is to help people create time, vitality, and deep relationships so people can achieve peak performance and fulfillment in life. Her passions include mind-body medicine, functional nutrition, longevity, productivity, and human optimization. She firmly believes that everything we need is within us now.



Please note the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the speaker, and not necessarily those of the speaker’s employer, organization, government institution, or medical program. This show is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this show or materials linked from here is at the user’s own risk. The content of this show is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions. Please assume that any links leading you to products or services are affiliate links that I will receive compensation from. I only mention products or services that I have used and believe would add value for you. Please note that I have not been given any free products, services, or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site.

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Full Transcript

Episode 23


ANNOUNCER: If you’re struggling with your vitality, energy, mood, focus, or sleep, this podcast is for you. Your host, Dr. Ann Tsung, ER doctor, and aerospace flight surgeon, will help you reach for the stars and remove the barriers or blockades that have been holding you back from living your best life. If you’ve been challenged by your health, relationships, or productivity, then it’s time for a breakthrough. So, here’s your host, Dr. Ann Tsung.


Ann Tsung: Hello, and welcome to It’s Not Rocket Science Show. I am your host, Dr. Ann Tsung. Today, I’d like to share with you my journey and my mindfulness practice and how that can help us to achieve optimal human performance really, in all aspects of life. When we have this monkey mind when we’re ruminating on something, or there’s some sort of emotional state that you know, is in control of us, we cannot get into optimal human performance if we’re just kind of cycling through our thoughts, right? So, mindfulness practice had been a huge help in helping train my mind and train my emotional state. We’ll talk about why it’s important to start this practice. And then, well, what exactly is it? And how can you actually incorporate this into all aspects of your life? So why would you want to do this? 


You know, Simon Sinek says, “Start with ‘why.’” Why would you even entertain the mindfulness practice and incorporate it into your own life? Well, when we train our body, we work out. And once we’re healthy, for a healthy to the point, you know that’s a continuing progress. Why won’t we train our mind? Why won’t we train our emotion? You know, it’s the huge, huge part in giving us optimal human performance, when we can direct focus, when we can decrease our negative emotions, like anger, or incompetence, or shame or fear. It is essentially mindfulness. It is a form of what they call metacognition. So, when you are trained to think about the thoughts that are coming at you, and you can analyze your thoughts and figure out oh, okay, this is why I feel like this. How do I go through this without being triggered? What kind of solutions can I offer up to myself that will allow me to get into the peaceful, calm state?” So, mindfulness practice is a form of brain and emotional training, that gives you metacognition, the ability to think about your thoughts and observe it, and then provide a solution to it so that your thoughts are not just running around what they call in Buddhism, the monkey brain, the monkey mind. 


And what exactly is a mindfulness practice, it is very easy to start, it is cheap. And it can take as short as even a minute. And that is really how I started. Essentially, you want to notice everything that is going on at this present moment. So, what that means is that if you are walking, you notice the trees, your steps, you notice your breath, perhaps if you are laying down, if you can just take a minute, and then just take ten deep breaths in and out. And then, notice the breaths as they move in and out of your lungs. Or when you are working out and then if you are lifting, you notice the bar, you pay attention to your feet, you notice what is around you, you notice the setup, you’re not distracted by your phones, that’s a type of mindfulness practice, too. Or perhaps when you are eating, have you ever eaten something in a rush and then you don’t really remember what something tasted like? That has happened to me many times working in the ER, working in the hospital, or maybe even at work, I actually eat my lunch through work, I used to do that. And I don’t really quite remember the taste, or I don’t really enjoy what I have eaten. So, it’s not savored because I didn’t practice mindful eating. So, it is something I have been trying to practice lately is that when I eat something, I make sure to slow down, to chew many times, 10 to 20 times, so that it’s easily digestible as well. 


And sometimes it is such a joy to just close my eyes, and even coffee or a tea and to close my eyes and just taking that step or that bite and then take a journey through your palate and the taste. You will find that the taste actually changes. You taste things that you would have never had tasted before without really paying attention. And after you perform mindful eating of your lunch, your dinner, you feel like you have thoroughly enjoyed your meal. And you feel full in a way that you feel satiated. And that is the thing. Because number one, it is slower, you eat slower, and takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that you’re full so you don’t overeat. And you feel satiated because you feel like you have thoroughly enjoyed and savored and tasted your meal. That is a form of mindfulness practice. 


So, I want to share with you how I initially started, I was a critical care fellow. And I was doing nights and days and just kind of flip flopping back and forth. My sleep was terrible. I was drinking tons of caffeine, and I will wake up and needing two shots of espresso, and then multiple shots of espresso throughout the day to even function, I take two shots of espresso before I step out the door, so that I can be normal. It’s crazy, right? I’ve become so dependent, and I was so sleep deprived, I was so stressed that I kept hearing meditation. And I always thought to myself, like I don’t have time, or I can’t do it. Or my mind is just running around too much. Like there’s no way I can keep still to do any sort of meditation. And I think meditation, the term gives people the stereotype against meditation. And I think the better way to say meditation is really just what I call mindfulness practice. Or you can say like, it’s a type of focus to really focus on your presence, to live in the present. That’s what mindfulness practice is. 

So, I think I came home one night from a shift, and I think I was just exhausted. But I couldn’t sleep. Because I had all these things ruminating in my mind of about what happened during the shift, where I could have done better, the mistakes that I have made during the shift or with this patient, or that patient or during rounds, I just found I’m dumb, I wasn’t smart. All these things going on in my head. And so, I was laying in bed, and I thought to myself, okay, let me go ahead and try this meditation just for a minute, a download a meditation app called Insight. I was like, I’ll just try it for a minute, and then see what happens. It’s a sort of guided meditation through your breaths, and oh, my god, I started it, and 30 seconds later, I was asleep. It was amazing. And I initially used it to help me go to sleep. Because essentially, what’s going on is when you’re ruminating about your thoughts, your mind you can’t, even though your body is so tired, you can’t fall asleep. But once you start focusing on the present, focusing on the breath in and out, and you’re not having these thoughts running through your head anymore, it’s much easier for your brain to kind of just shut down and go to sleep because you’re so tired. 


So initially, I started using it just a minute of time before bed to help me go to sleep. I couldn’t sleep also, because you know, I was taking so much caffeine throughout the afternoon, it was still metabolizing in the body. And I often wouldn’t feel rested. So, it was initially a way for me to help me to get to bed to cure the insomnia. And later, I learned more about it, I started using guided meditation, I would do in the morning, I will go to five minutes, I will go to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and then later on, I could go for 30 minutes to an hour and it will feel the longer I practiced, the shorter it felt like time just stood still. Like I wasn’t thinking about, oh, how much longer do I have or like I can’t do this. If the guided meditations were a little bit easier for me because I would often think about what I’m grateful for that I talked about the six-phase meditation before, what I’m grateful for in myself and work or just around me, showing gratitude to people around me or love, well wishes to people around me, (inaudible) strangers, forgiveness. And some of my action plans and my visions for the future, for today and just giving thanks to what I have already at this present moment. 


So that’s what I do every morning now. I do the six-phase meditation. And I’ll tell you after this has been about a six-year journey of meditation, a daily meditation now, of course I wasn’t always perfect when I initially started. And when I saw the benefits of meditation, I made it a point to really do it every day because if I didn’t do it every day, I would notice. So probably a few months after I started meditation, I felt a sense of inner peace and calm whenever something went wrong. What I noticed was that I was less reactive to little things. If somebody cuts me off during traffic or on the highway, I’m usually honking. But then later on, I just, you know, started letting the event pass through me, and not really react to it. Because you start thinking about, you know, perhaps that person has to be somewhere more urgently, maybe that person heard some bad news and was rushing somewhere to get home. Or perhaps that person is really late for work and don’t want to get fired, and they just happen to cut you off or honk at you. And everybody’s on their own journey. And they’re suffering. And that’s why they’re so angry and reactive. That’s what happens when you start meditating, you can kind of think about, okay, I’m reacting to this, and I am triggered, because I’m frustrated about this. But then you start thinking about the other person, their situation, their perspective, and then you just kind of calm down and everything is going to be okay. 

So, I’ve noticed that if I make a mistake, at work, or if I say something that I perceive as stupid, I can often recognize it in my head, like, oh, I am doing that thing again, where I feel incompetent. Because when I started, of course, this requires a lot of self-work, as well in journaling, but I noticed that, okay, when I was raised as a kid, in Taiwan, my self-worth, or my mom really valued good grades. If I was imperfect, if I got B’s I was scolded. So, I always value in the past, my self-worth as it’s how much I knew and how perfect I was in the knowledge, and how well I did in school or work. When you meditate, you can start going through this in your head when you feel that incompetence, when you feel the emotion of not enough, and then kind of calm yourself, recognize it and say, it’s just my upbringing, my triggers coming back on me again, it’s okay, just move forward, learn from it, find the gift in it and move forward. Or, you know, there are times I can give you an example of when my mom called me to ask for something. And we have a very interesting relationship, which I’ll share with you on a different episode. But usually, when she calls me, it is when she’s requesting something, not to just say hi, hello, how’s it going? What have you been up to, we don’t have that kind of relationship. So, when I noticed that I was slightly triggered in my heart, that I also had a slight annoyance in my tone, I recognized it was about 30 to 40% annoyance. I took a deep breath. And I talked to her as calmly as possible. She asked me when I’ll be able to get this done. And I said, well, I don’t know but I’ll take a look at it later. And then she just hung up. So, I, when she hung up, I almost texted her and said, you only call me when you want something. It’s not really to show me love, or to ask me how I’m doing. And I recognized myself right away, too. And I said, No, there’s no need to send it. It’s okay. Because she’s on her own journey. She’s suffering in her own ways. And there’s no need really for me to react. And I thank her for showing me that I still have some work to do in my emotional states with her. And I thanked her for being my mirror, in order to show me that I’ve improved a lot in terms of my reaction towards her. But there’s still some work to do. So, I thanked her. And that’s what meditation did for me. 


And another instance was at work, where I asked the question that maybe I should have known or shouldn’t have known, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know. I tried to take should have, shouldn’t have out of my vocabulary anyway. Though, the person that asked the question, too, thought I should have known it, and then gave me a look like I was, well, I perceived it that I was incompetent and stupid that I should have known. I didn’t so my monkey brain, or my reptilian brain just went up and defense. And I was like, that was so stupid. Why did I even say that? I should have known that I should have read up more about it. Like this is like something they’ve been working on the entire time. And I didn’t know this. That’s so dumb. How could I have looked so stupid? And so, during that whole time, after I asked a question, somebody else was kind enough to explain the rationale to me, and the answer to me, but that whole time afterwards, I was thinking in my head, okay, you’re being triggered. You are feeling that incompetence again, this is not your fault. This is how you’ve learned now you’ll remember forever. And that is okay, because there’s nothing you should have done or shouldn’t have done. It is what it is, the now is what it is, there’s nothing you can do to change it, and you just move forward and learn from it. That’s it. Just get better. You do it, because it’s a challenge. It’s a part of the normal process. And so, without meditation, the past six years, I think I would have ruminated for much longer, it still came back, I still ruminate on it, because it was like a deep-seated value that I gave myself, like how much I knew. And if I didn’t know that I was imperfect, it was, you know, so deep-seated from childhood, and it took some time, a few days to kind of catch myself to, you know whenever I go back into it again. 


So, those are two examples of what meditation did for me, it was essentially brain training and emotional training for me to be able to deal with everyday life. And can you imagine if you can tame your mind, a monkey brain, if you’re not ruminating as much, then we can all be much more freeing, have this calmness, this inner peace, this joy, this happiness. Because we really create our own suffering in our own head and our own heart. And if we can talk ourselves out to it, be your own self therapist, essentially, then we can approach life with a sense of calmness, that will allow us to give us like the creativity that we need, the productivity that we need. Can you imagine like if we just get into flow state much easier, the focus on the presence, the insights, sometimes they just come to you. And you can, if you’re not ruminating on these thoughts, that you are much more productive at your work, you will like have much, much less stress than before in your life. And you can actually focus instead of ruminating on what if the future, the past. You can focus on the present with your loved ones, your husband, your wife, your kids, your grandparents, your parents, or you can actually just take a walk without your phone, you can notice the trees, you can notice how the wind is blowing. And you can close your eyes and actually hear the wind, the leaves moving. And just think that you know, this is absolutely beautiful, we get to that state where you feel that you’re connected with everything around you that we’re all one. And again, that really took years and years and years of meditation and training to get to that point, that sense of connectedness. After you’ve felt it it’s something that you won’t forget and it is within us now it’s within reach. 


Now, after this podcast, think about one way where you can practice mindfulness and anything in your life. Maybe it’s when you walk your dog, or you can walk around with their loved ones, you don’t take your phone with you that you only focus on each other, talking to each other holding each other’s hands, or you focus on your dog, you focus on the grass that you’re walking, the dirt. If there’s water, if there are trees, you focus on how green they are, how they’re moving, what’s surrounding you. Or maybe the next time when you eat your meal. I just ask you to do this experiment with me. And close your eyes. And take one bite very slowly. And really take a journey through your tongue, your mouth, your palate, and see what like you know, notice – is it sour, is it spicy, does it change? Is it bitter? Can you taste the different spices, the saltiness, the pepper, the sweetness, anything. I mean, you’ll see that if you take a journey through it, it changes as you chew and bite. It’s amazing. Or maybe the next time you want to do any sort of mindfulness, you just sit down. If it’s at work, all you have to do is close your eyes. Take five to 10 breaths, and just really noticing the breaths coming out. And I would say, what I do is the 478 breathing, take in four seconds, breathe in, hold there for seven seconds. And then breathe out for eight. And you can do that a few times and really noticed a breath and you’ll feel a sense of calmness and peace really, that will help you through your work. It will give you whitespace that your brain needs for your creativity for your flow state for your focus state for your productivity. 


So, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. Just as a summary, that mindfulness practice is really just noticing your thoughts. It’s a type of metacognition it’s the type of brain training that helps you with their emotions and it’s focusing on the present and noticing the present with all of your senses. And the way to do it really is to pick one thing that you would like to focus on and give your full attention fully. And just catch yourself if you wander in your head, your thoughts, catch yourself, forgive yourself, don’t blame yourself, and then focus on whatever you’re focusing on again. There’s no blame. There’s only compassion and love for yourself. And please just take action. And do it for a minute. That’s it. One minute, that’s all it takes to start. It’s free. It’s cheap. It’s easy. So please.


So, I thank you so much for your time today. And remember that everything we need is really within us now. Have a good day.


ANNOUNCER: That’s it for today’s episode. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the show. One lucky listener every single week that posts a review on iTunes will win a chance in the grand prize drawing to win a private VIP Day for a health and life makeover with Dr. Ann Tsung, herself. Then, be sure to head on over to and pick up your free gift from Dr. Tsung. Then, join us on the next episode.


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