FLIP365 Newsletter (4). A week in the life of a contrarian psychiatrist

What a week in the life of a contrarian psychiatrist!

Now, hop-skipping to work.


1). Began on Sunday by  meeting outdoors with good friends, Mientjie and Morne Van Der Merwe at the Mindfulness Area (Huddle).

Both are senior professionals in Johannesburg and own properties at Walkersons Estate, outside Dullstroom.

Also, blessed with their beautiful adjacent game farm, full of healthy, fertile animals, a river running through, trees, magnificent views of the Low-veld, and walking trails.

Mientjie and Morne dream to build an executive Retreat on the estate; for adventures in wellness.

My role is to implement a scientific based outdoor curriculum, emerging out of my life long stress/burnout research and brain health interventions.

We have settled on initial weekend retreats from Friday afternoon to mid-morning Monday. The first begins on Friday 12th October.

Maximum 12 participants per group, with opportunities for long silent strolls/walks up to four hours at a stretch.

Opening all your senses (read: multipotential brain neuronal networks) to nature.


2). Then this Monday the Discovery Group appointed me their Brain Health Consultant.

The first project is the Young Doctors Program, aimed at improving the lives (in multi-dimensions) and Resilience from first years and Doctors until age 35.

It is a wonderful entry point to introduce the online teaching program about Building Resilience.

This program is a first in the world!

I am honored, and admittedly a bit nervous, but that low edge anxiety is the essence of all adventures.

Looking forward to the challenge, the effort required to stretch to the edge of my comfort zone, lessons to be learnt, and open to feedback.

Dr Sule Burger is the dynamic driver of this needed project.

Discovery are brilliant at incentivizing the desired behavior.


3). Huddle Park is looking better and better.

All of the seven ponds can now be circumvented by walking around each of its perimeter.

Next to Huddle Bridge, we have installed a deck, where you can stand sit or recline and watch the weavers weave, or the wind in the willows, or the sun setting.

Early spring is here as new growth of leaves are clearly evident.

Huddle is my place of refuge, but also a training ground for future guides of the Mindfulness in the Park events.

The pond at Huddle Bridge will be called Walden Pond, made famous by the works of Henry David Thoreau, who took years off from his life to live in a simple hut, a simple. His writings are profound on the magnificence of Nature on the human psyche.

Jason Bagg is the overall groundskeeper at Huddle, starting to have long chats under forest canopy, and we share a sensitivity to natural ecosystems.

A healthy sustainable green lung in an urban setting available to the public is our strategic vision.


4). On Tuesday evening, Shirra and I attended the annual Albertina Sisulu lecture at Wits Faculty of Health Sciences.

The speaker, Thuli Madonsela, was inspiring and insightful.

My overall feeling was here in front of us, a few meters away, speaking for 90 minutes, was a woman representing the very best that South Africa can offer.

Her moral compass is so clearly pointing in the right direction, where so many of the leaders in government and business have lost their own moral compass (presumably that they ever had one).

My take home message: always ask oneself: what is the right thing to in this situation.

That what (personal) leadership is all about. Management is doing things right.

Keep thinking whether the Thuli’s of the world are born or bred?

Dr Jonathan D Moch

Mindfulness in the Park. Sundays 90 minutes before dusk (August 4:15pm)

Chief Operating Officer, Samantha Bole.

Online teaching platform.
Building Resilience in the Digital Age

Website www.flip365.co.za
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FLIP365 Newsletter (2) A Week in the Life of a Contrarian Psychiatrist.

A busy week, no doubt the exploration and discovery of another pond at Huddle Park, being the central highlight. Completely overgrown with bush, trees, reeds, grass. This week is going to be a massive cleanup. Then I will begin to unfold walking-talk therapy at this beautiful site  – for both individuals and small groups.

Monday 16th July

Book of the week.

Resilient (Find your inner strength). By Rick Hanson.

Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness, writes about how to build a strong foundation by harnessing the power of positive experiences to create a solid core. Twelve practical strategies.


Tuesday 17th July
Talk of the week.

A brilliant lecture that covers geopolitical tensions, current events, and a will to do good.

WATCH: Barack Obama delivers the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johann…

Wednesday 18th July
Science of the week.

The kind of science that talks to me. How immersion in nature changes specific brain regions, spotted by functional magnetic resonant imaging (fMRI).


Thursday 19th July
Idea of the week

A series of ted.com talks that will help  give permission to yourself to unplug from the technological grid, and connect to all things natural.

Copy and paste for more.



Friday 20th July
Connection of the week

Met with Jeffrey, a professional tree feller, who will help clear the seven ponds at Huddle Park. It will become a world class site for teaching and training Mindfulness in the Park events.

Volunteers always welcome.

Mindfully yours,

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

Mindfulness in the Park. Sundays 90 minutes before dusk (July 4:15pm)



(17). Join Mindfulness in the Park events.

Please send me your full name and what’s app number so we can send you direct messages about Mindfulness in the Park events. (Go to contact Dr Moch, in website menu.)

My long term aim is weekly (Sunday afternoons, ninety minutes before dusk) Mindfulness in the Park sessions across the nation. Watch this space.

Volunteers most welcome to help roll out the dream.

Photo Shoot

1) Park at Acro Branch, Huddle Park

2). Begin start up walk at start of Trail Run Sign

3). Follow Blue Arrow Signage (about 300 meters)

4). Stop at this signpost.

5). You now can see the Mindfulness Nature site.

6). Follow short path and take your seat.

7). Your greatest gift to yourself. 90 minutes of full immersion in nature.

Sundays 90 minutes before dusk. July times 4:15pm until 5:45pm

(16). Mindfulness in the Park


This Sunday, 1st July, 4:15 pm sharp, at Huddle Park, Club Street, Linksfield, Johannesburg, until dusk. And Sundays thereafter.

Starting point.

Meet at Dog trails parking, by AcroBranch. Can safely park there.

Park at main gate at Huddle Park, at and pay daily walking rate at Golf Shop. About R30. They will give you a ticket or wrist band.
Then drive to meeting point (AcroBranch. Well signed). No extra costs. Ie free from thereon.

Please note that this is a most wonderful way to switch off all screens and experience Stillness, Silence and Mindfulness.

So no cellphones allowed. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a jersey, as it gets chilly towards dusk.

Bring along a small back pack that you can wear, then arms are free. To keep safely a small sitting cushion, keys, phone, jersey, bottle of water, …

NB. No talking will be allowed from beginning to end.

We do a mixup of slow walking, standing, sitting, listening, looking, being.

You can arrive earlier and do a walking warmup on the blue or green trail.

Ps its sounds easy, but can be very challenging if you are dependent on screens for noise or other distractions. Silence is priceless.

Your guide,

Dr Jonathan D Moch

(14). Books that I am reading this month. You?

Combining long winter nights in Johannesburg and a public sale at Exclusives, is an ideal excuse to collect a number of books to occupy my mind-space for a few weeks.

The following are my recent purchases, and a précis of each as I understand the motives of the authors to write about the topics. (And why I am reading them.)

The Wisest Man in the Room – How to harness psychology’s most powerful insights.
Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross

Understanding about knowledge, insights and wisdom, – how our thinking process are packed with biases, mostly unconscious, that results in poor judgement, and all it’s consequences (intended and unintended).

(Improves my insights into brain health, determinants of quality of life and optimizing decision-making. Love picking out the biases of others, but not even noticing my own.)

The Power of Silence – The riches that lie within.
Graham Turner

A world wide search for and documentation of individuals, societies, or corporations that deeply value times of silence, – a committed breakaway (minutes, hours, days, months, or years) from the nonstop noise of modern life. The sounds of silence are indeed golden. Sorry Simon and Garfunkle.

(Fits in with my seventh adventures in wellness: Digital Detox and the Art of Stillness/Silence.)

Unbound – How eight technologies made us human, transformed society, and brought our world to the brink.
Richard Currier

A concise longitudinal review of major changes in technology – from tools, spears, fire, wheels, clothing, huts to music, art, language, ethnicity, and more recent accomplishments of ships, writing, clocks, machines. And of course, now the Digital Age of the World Wide Web. Does this understanding give a positive or negative future trajectory? There will be a number of blogs about these insights.

(Informs my digital online teaching platforms.)

The Story of Food – An illustrated history of everything we eat.
DK – Penguin Random House.

A Cooks Tour (!) with illustrations, through the origins, nutritional values, and cultural uses of the ten major food groups: nuts and seeds; fruits; grains and cereals; vegetables; herbs and spices; oils and condiments; (processed) sugar; meat; fish; and dairy (milk, cheese and eggs).

(Fits in with my view on the primacy of superfoods versus junk-foods. Another of the seven adventures in wellness)

Your book(s) you are reading, now?

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

(13). What patients have taught me.

From the the Acknowledgements section of The Choice: Embrace the Possible, by Edith Eger.

My patients, the unique and one-of-a-kind humans,

who have taught me that:

1) – healing is not about recovery; it is about discovery

2). – discovering hope in hopelessness

3). – discovering an answer

where there does not seem to be one

4). – discovering that it is not what happens that matters –

it is what you do with it.

{Agree? Disagree?)

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

Seven common sense lifestyles to build a child’s brain.

Imagine you could optimize your brain health as you could to a child’s brain!?

From Sarah McKay.

All children differ in their biological susceptibility to life experiences in a -for better and for worse- manner.

Some kids are particularly sensitive to both highly stressful and highly nurturing environments.

Like orchids, such children bloom if lovingly cultivated, but wilt and wither if neglected.

In contrast, adaptable, resilient children who do not get easily stressed are like little dandelions; they will grow and thrive anywhere.

The seven influential lifestyle choices are.

1). Attachments and relationships

2). Language development

3). Sleep

4). Play

5). Physical movement

6). Nutrition

7). Executive Function skills.

Read more…




(12). What books are you reading?

One of life’s blessings and pleasures is the ability to read. There is this wonderful channel between the written word and the brain, – the eyes.

These three components – written words, visual tracts, and mental interpretation integrate and synergize perfectly, and is what you are performing right now.

There are so many mediums (screens, books, magazines) to fixate your eyeballs on letters of the alphabet (English, Chinese, Hebrew…), that in combination, make up words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, books and/or trilogies.

And then your neural networks extract meaning, recollect memories, release a panoply of emotions and can facilitate action.

Interpretive reading is what differentiates us humans from all of the animal worlds; and differentiates a Life Lived Well from a confused, frustrated, suffering one.

Millions of books, billions of blogs are published every year. There is a demand by the public and authors supply that need. No shortage to find your own interests. Focus on yours, and your inner world lights up.

Here are three books that I am currently  reading and reflecting upon it’s contents.

1). Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall. (A ten chapter series that explores the way the Ancient Greek philosopher understood happiness/ potential/ decision-making/ self-knowledge/ intentions/ communication/ love/ community/ leisure/ and mortality. Bonus: All can be incorporated into the modern life. Just do virtue!)

2). Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker. (A grand overview of his life’s work in the scientific study of the mysteries of sleep, and its importance (7.5 hours a night) for a quality life. Bonus. The new ideas about the health role of dream states.)

3). Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. (After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl of Facebook and Lean In fame, teamed with Adam Grant to write about building resilience, bouncing back/forward, and (bonus) founding joy in times of enormous difficulty, grief, loss.

What books or articles, are you reading these days?

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

Online teaching platform.
Building Resilience in the Digital Age





(10). Guess who is coming for dinner?

Thought experiment.

If you could, who would you invite for dinner (dead or alive)?

What questions would you like to ask each guest?

Maximum of four guests.

This my list, a brief bio, and a few questions.

1). Aristotle – the Ancient Greek rock star of moral (virtue) philosophy. How can one best express latent potential; how can we make the world a better place?

2). Moses – the main persona of the Bible. What really happened in the Egyptian slavery era, the forty years wandering in the desert, the plagues, up on the mountain for forty days and nights, your childhood experiences as a prince? What was it like to speak direct to God?

3). My fathers, father mother – what were memories of my father’s father (who just escaped the genocidal pogroms of Lithuania) arrived in South Africa, 32, penniless, but died as CEO of a listed JSE company? Still raised five children, all married, each had three children. Lived for 76 years, with the intact crown of a good name.

4). Tim Noakes – a decent, brave, natural growth mindset scientist severely mobbed by his fixed mindset detractors, when he changed his paradigm on food choices. What are sustainable tasty superfoods that improve brain health, and how to optimize exercise routines? How to speak truth to power (science, politics, business)?

Please send me your list, and short questions you would ask each guest.

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

(6). Post-Traumatic Growth! PreTraumatic Growth?

Yesterday, walking through the Mall in Rosebank, on the way to a business meeting, a familiar face passed by, stopped suddenly, turned around and asked: “Dr Moch?”

“Yes,” I answered, vaguely recognizing the person from a few years ago. Not an uncommon experience. “What now?” I thought to myself.

He responded spontaneneuosly: “I am a recovering addict. Clean for fthree years. Successful construction company. And started a halfway house for destitute female addicts, integrating them back into society, work, and relationships.”

And continued. “Life is going well.”

And he closed the discussion. “Thank you for all your help and lectures when I was in hospital.”

Quick handshake, spontaneous hug, a couple of pointed questions, then wished him well going forward. He went south, I went north. Back on track, more upbeat, to the scheduled meeting.

After a stimulating conversation at Motherland, with cup of coffee in hand, I began to reflect on trauma and the response to the shock to the system – physiological, mental, social, environmental.

And then the big questions: Why do some recover, others never do, and a few grow from the trauma?

Quick scribble on a napkin, and after a few iterations, a four part model as shown in this image below. Plotting functionality against time.

There are three major responses.

A. Post-traumatic stress disorder, with severe dysfunction in daily tasks i.e. no bounce back

B: Post-traumatic recovery, with the return to previous function i.e. “bouncing back”.

C: Post-traumatic growth, return to a higher level of functioning before the trauma i.e. “bouncing forward”.

Then a new idea, initiated by the brilliant Option B book of Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant:

D. Pre-traumatic growth, where healthy lifestyle choices and practices induces elasticity that absorbs shocks, but at a higher level of functioning.

Then this morning (post good sleep, post exercise, post superfoods breakfast) it hit me: that is what my online teaching platform is all about – Building Resilience before the shock of traumas of life; and if they have already hit, being able to grow from the experience.

Thus FLIP365 is about options C) and D). Post-traumatic growth and Pre-traumatic growth.

The Seven Adventures in Wellness builds resilience – the ability to bounce back and forward from adversity (traumas – read loss of loved ones, serious illness, long term unemployment, victim of violent crime, divorce, rejection by family….)

Incredible how chance encounters stimulate reflection and realization, pulling all the disparate components into a coherent thought structure.

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health


Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth.

(Jim Renton)


YouTube Playlist Link. Dr Jonathan Moch