In today’s podcast, we interview the amazing but humble Jason
Meno, who has been doing incredible programming for the Feeling
Good App for the past year. Like everyone on our app development
team, Jason was driven to TEAM-CBT and the Feeling Good App by his
own personal struggles, and also by his training in Buddhism and
his commitment to doing something to help relieve the enormous
suffering endured by so many people in the United States and around
the world who are struggling with depression and anxiety.
The podcast notes will focus first on how he recently came to
join our app team, and then on Jason’s amazing early years in his
search for meaning and a solution to his personal suffering and
Jason’s journey to the Feeling Good App
Jason began the podcast by describing how he became familiar
with David’s work. Then he described his own personal journey and
search for enlightenment. I’ll summarize some of both in these show
I was struggling with severe depression in 2020. I felt like my
body was falling apart because I’ve been afflicted with type 1
diabetes since I was five years old. I didn’t have the resources to
work with a therapist and felt hopeless, so I searched the
internet, looking for a way of overcoming depression on my own. I
first turned to apps for help, but my experience was not
I eventually found David’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Through that book,
I discovered that depression and anxiety are cons and that I was
tricking myself. However, I didn’t use the tools or do the written
exercises in the book.
I started listening to the Feeling Good Podcasts and waited for
the new book, Feeling Great. Often, when listening to the podcasts I
would start crying. I am not a crier, and this often happened in
public, so it was pretty embarrassing!
I was also practicing meditation every day, but that didn’t
provide much help. It does have its benefits and was a solace for
me when I had nothing else, but after years of practicing, it still
didn’t give me the tools to combat the thoughts that trigger
depression and suicidal urges.
But then I had an “ah-ha” moment when David talked about
resistance and the power of positive reframing. It was a tremendous
relief to see that it was reasonable to feel the way I was feeling.
I devoured the
Feeling Great book but still wanted to die since I was still
not doing the written exercises that David repeatedly urges the
reader to do.
Then, on one of the podcasts, someone said, “you can’t
challenge your negative thoughts in your head.”
I resisted that message and told myself that I had no negative
thoughts. Many of my negative thoughts are quiet since you learn to
empty your mind when you meditate. But then I realized that
negative thoughts are just the top layer of your consciousness and
that the concept of “cognitions” not only includes thoughts like
“I’m a loser,” but also your daydreams, beliefs, and
Then, once I sat down and wrote down my negative thoughts,
identified their distortions, and challenged them with more
realistic thoughts, I began to feel a lot better within five
If you, the podcast listener, are feeling down, there’s a
step-by-step guide in Feeling Great that could be enormously helpful to you.
I started following this guide, and then I really started
to feel great. After using it a few times, I had the thought, “Wow,
this could be a pretty amazing app!”
One of the first questions you ask yourself, “do I really want
to feel better?” had a massive impact on me and, of course, is one
of the unique elements of TEAM-CBT. And although I made mistakes
while using the tools on my own, they still helped more than
anything else I’ve tried.
Eventually, I saw a non-TEAM therapist who provided me with
some great empathy and valuable perspectives while I used the
TEAM-CBT process and daily mood log on my own.
Then I suddenly realized that I had no more suicidal thoughts.
TEAM-CBT is a way for you to rapidly train your mind and develop a
new mindset that reduces suffering. This is an important ethical
issue to me, given all the suffering that remains throughout the
world, and it reminded me of my Buddhist vow to help others.
So, I signed up to be a beta tester for David’s Feeling Good
App. However, I was disappointed in the early version I tested and
created a 12-page document listing my complaints. Then I reached
out to Jeremy Karmel, the CEO of the Feeling Good App, and he
invited me to join the development team.
I was so excited that I left my job as a data scientist working
on an automated insulin device and joined the app development team.
And although I was not familiar with the computer language Jeremy
was using, I learned it quickly, and now I’m programming all kinds
of cool things for the app!
Jason’s early years
You may or may not be familiar with Herman Hesse’s famous 1922
novel, “Siddhartha,” which traced the journey of the young
Buddha as he was searching for personal enlightenment and unlocking
the key to human suffering.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddhartha_(novel)) I have not read
many books, because I am a slow reader, but that one is short and
has always been one of my favorites. Jason’s intense and dramatic
journey reminds me of Siddhartha’s path.
Jason’s road to TEAM-CBT, his current passion, was not a direct
one at all. Like myself (David), he was raised in a strict
Christian home but found himself attracted to exciting and
controversial topics when he was in high school, like astral
traveling and “lucid dreaming,” which means becoming aware when you
are dreaming so you can take charge of your dreams and do things in
your dream world that you may not be permitted to do in real
For example, Jason has been treated for type 1 diabetes since
the age of 5 and has to monitor his blood glucose levels 24 hours a
day. Things like fresh orange juice are dangerous because they
cause a spike in blood sugar, but in a lucid dream you can drink
all the orange juice you want! I can identify with Jason’s yearning
for fresh squeezed orange juice, because I grew up in Phoenix,
Arizona, and we had many orange trees in our yard, so the orange
juice was plentiful and incredibly delicious!
When Jason was a teenager, there was a magic / occult shop near
his high school that he would joyfully and curiously explore after
school, but his parents were dead set against it. They told him
that he was exploring ideas promoted by the devil and threatened to
kick him out of the house!
I also identified with these memories, as I also used to hang
out in magic stores in Phoenix when I was in high school. But these
were more the kinds of shops that sold tricks of various kinds that
magicians could use.
Although Jason studied biomedical engineering in college, he
continued to be fascinated by his more exciting “alternative”
occult pursuits, and dropped out of college to join a cult in
Sedona, Arizona. The cult members insisted that he could cure his
diabetes simply by believing he could, so he obediently stopped
taking his insulin and monitoring his blood sugar for one day and
Jason described that his mother struggled with emotional
issues. After running away with him twice when he was 10, she lost
custody and disappeared to Santiago, Chile. Jason had not heard
from her since. But one day, out of the blue, his brother called
him and said that their mom had suddenly returned home, and there
was some talk of starting a family bakery.
Jason was thrilled and purchased a plane ticket to fly from
Indiana to Hanford, California, to surprise his mom after not
seeing her for 10 years and offer to help with the bakery.
But then right before leaving, his sister called and asked if
he had heard the news. At first, he thought she was talking about
the family bakery, but his sister said, “No, mom just committed
suicide.” Jason was devastated and sadly flew home out for the
funeral. Although his mother’s body was not present at the funeral,
he looked and suddenly thought he saw her standing in the church
during the service.
This jolted him, understandably, until it dawned on him that it
was his mother’s twin sister. His aunt offered him a new life, a
car, and a beautiful home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, but he
was still obsessed with the cult, so he returned to the cult in
He spent all his savings of $3,000 for special training to
become a cult leader and ended up living as a homeless person in
Boulder, Colorado. However. he started running out of his diabetes
medications and having panic attacks. He eventually found work in a
Buddhist retreat center in the mountains of Colorado and started
studying Buddhism, making friends with the monks, and began doing
He said that mediating intensified his negative feelings, and
he became suicidal, and even tried a special “suicide meditation”
that he’d learned from the cult in Arizona. They claimed that if
you did this meditation, you would disappear and end up in a kind
of different universe, but after trying it several times, he
realized it was all bunk and gave it up, along with the other crazy
cult things he’d been taught.
However, he did make a sound connection with traditional
Buddhism, and lived at the retreat center for about a year. He
described a special meditation where you ask yourself, “what
doesn’t need to change?”
The goal is to discover that the answer is “nothing” since
everything is in constant flux, and this meditation is intended to
lead to a kind of acceptance. But, he says, “at first I
He said he did experience feelings of pleasure and euphoria
during some of his mediations, but that this was not a permanent
cure for his depression. That’s because the meditation was a
distraction or escape from his negative thoughts, a kind of
temporary trance-like state, but when you finish meditating, you
are back to your normal life, so your negative thoughts and
Jason has become an enthusiastic advocate of TEAM-CBT, and
described two ways of challenging negative thoughts based on
David’s Externalization of Voices Technique. One approach is highly
rational, and it reduces your negative feelings but does not flood
you with feelings of joy or enlightenment. The other approach
reduces your negative feelings AND energizes you with feelings of
joy. The second involves using David’s Externalization of Voices
Technique along with the three strategies for crushing negative
The CAT, or Counter-Attack Technique.
David asked Jason to discuss one of the traditional Buddhist
definitions of enlightenment. You are “enlightened” if you are free
of greed, ignorance, and delusions. However, he sent this
delightful email following the podcast recording:
Hi David and Rhonda,
Thank you so much again for having
me on the podcast! It was a blast!
I wanted to clarify an important
mistake I made:
A commonly accepted Buddhist
definition of enlightenment is to be completely free of the
poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. These are considered to
be the source of suffering / negative thoughts / mind states
(Buddhists refer to these as Kleshas). I
can't remember exactly what I said in the podcast, but I think I
may have incorrectly listed the three poisons as greed, delusion,
and ignorance. Delusion and Ignorance are considered to be in the
same category, so I think I forgot Hatred. Oops! Looks like I'll
have to brush up on my studies again! Hopefully, we can help make
this clear in the show notes as well.
If you or anyone you know is at all
interested in learning more about Buddhism, its philosophies, and
history, I highly recommend the YouTube channel Doug's
I am very grateful for the creative and life-changing
contributions that Jason is making in our Feeling Good App, and I
feel tremendously lucky to know Jason on a personal and
professional level. His quite humility speaks loudly and boldly
about the kind of loving and genuine person he is, and if you
decide to beta-test our app, you will have the chance to benefit
from his personal journey and his professional genius!
If you’re interested, you can sign up to beta test the app at
www.feelinggood.com/app. If you would like to contact Jason, you
can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After reviewing the draft of the show notes, I got this link
Also, if you are interested in
reading a little more of the story, I wrote this article a few
years ago about some scary health challenges I had and how I
ended up leaving the Buddhist retreat center and returning to
Enlightenment or Just Life with Diabetes?
Thanks for listening today!
Rhonda, Jason, and David
About the Podcast
This podcast features David D. Burns MD, author of "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy," describing powerful new techniques to overcome depression and anxiety and develop greater joy and self-esteem. For therapists and the general public alike!