Mindfulness/Integrated Life

With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.

(Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you as your shadow, unshakable.

The Dhammapada

From a neurobiological perspective, a lot of psychotherapy is about re-building the social brain. An important part of becoming whole and integrating the self has to do with identifying and clearing unconscious core beliefs, which undermine us emotionally and physically, and distract us from coming fully into ourselves. These beliefs are often the result of painful childhood experiences and later developmental traumas, which become encoded in the limbic system, and cause repetitive and debilitating patterns in adulthood. They are part of our subconscious layering, personal, familial, and cultural.

Instead of clearing these beliefs, talk therapy often rehearses and unwittingly reinforces them, so that we become better at telling our stories but do not know how to set ourselves free.

The mindfulness path, which cultivates presence and primary awareness, re-wires our thinking mind, and re-awakens self-healing states of mind. It opens up an out-of-the-box perspective, and helps us develop strategies to break out of limited belief systems and begin to overcome our self-created barriers to healing and happiness. Pain and turmoil do not always have to result in disability and disease, but can lead to the triumph of the human spirit we call creativity. Mindfulness allows us to find creative, rather than maladaptive responses to life stresses.

The mindfulness work I do draws on the knowledge of wisdom traditions and new science, in order to develop practices for moment-to-moment return to health and resilience. I refer to it as Health Realization, which is a recently emerged modality of mindfulness work. This approach integrates recent advances in Mind/Body medicine and positive psychology. Mindfulness skills have emerged as an important focus of several empirically supported treatments, and are increasingly widely used as a preferred treatment modality in a wide range of disorders, due to their well-documented positive effect on emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being.

Micro-developmental, moment-to-moment personality transformations involve a growing ability to overcome disabling thoughts and keep one’s bearings, and to perceive more clearly (with less ego-distortions). These changes lead to a deepening social, interpersonal, and intrapersonal awareness, increasing optimism, sense of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, and more consistent positive self-care skills. As the person begins to act from a more centered and well-attuned inner space, these micro-shifts result in macro-developmental changes toward a more integrated personality and experience of life.

An example of the power of mindfulness as a psychotherapeutic approach is recent clinical evidence of the role of spiritual development in addictions recovery. Disconnectedness is the source of many human problems, such as drug and sexual addiction, violence, school failure, spousal and child abuse, marital breakdown. As people awaken to the reality of their spiritual nature, their true Self, they begin to transform anger, depression and the sense of impotence into growing spiritual literacy and empowerment. They realize the purpose of life, and experience awe, humility, and wonder. Accessing these deep resources of the human spirit brings about profound developmental re-structuring of one’s sense of identity, and of one’s relationships to others and life.

The mindfulness path has the power to open up deep ecological awareness of the interconnectedness of all life. It moves people to strive to live non-exploitatively, in a spirit of stewardship.

Papers on the subject:

Discovering Our Health: Rethinking Mind, Consciousness, and Thought