Archives for November, 2011
The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second largest issue in ill health worldwide. Clinical depression is defined as a persistent depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure for at least two weeks along with a number of other physical and psychological symptoms. These could include poor sleep, loss of appetite, a sense of hopelessness and others. Studies have now found that the more often a person experiences depression, the more likely they will be to experience it again (70-80% chance of relapse for people who have suffered two or more episodes). Depression doesn't usually occur alone and is often mixed with other issues such as anxiety and panic. So what do we do, medicate, meditate, both?
So here we are, a couple days before Thanksgiving in the United States. Take this moment while reading these words to really consider what you are thankful for. When we think of what we’re thankful for we often think of the light in our lives. Who and what represents the light in our lives? The poet Hafiz writes in his poem “It Felt Love”:
It’s no secret that for a long time now there’s been an increasing pressure from parents to push kids in the direction of achievement. In the past if you’re kid got into Stanford, Harvard, or any of the top schools the parents could rest and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Right now, more people are graduating from top schools and finding there’s nowhere to go. They’ve been trained to achieve all their lives and are now finding a massive void in the market and perhaps in their perception of what really matters in life. I’m not saying that being straddled with large student loans and the inability to get a job isn’t a real stressor. But today more parents are finding themselves wondering if they made a mistake in not focusing more on the non-achievement oriented things in life that lead to simple pleasures and happiness.
A short while ago I opened an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I’m calling this column of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, “Voices.” A number of people continue to write in with stories. If you have a story, continue writing in and as long as there are good stories that teach the rest of us how mindfulness can work in our lives, I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them. Here’s a wonderful story that teaches us the wisdom of being present in the transitory moments of life by Stuart Frazer:
Whether it’s sadness, fear, shame, guilt or anger, sometimes when these are here, all we want to do is be somewhere else and it seems like it’s going to last forever. Here’s one practice to consider in regaining control of your mind during the difficult moments in life. Try this as an experiment:
Today I have the honor of interviewing Susan Kaiser Greenland, who had the courage to leave a well-paying law career to embrace a calling to teach mindfulness meditation to children as young as four years old. She is author of the upcoming book The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate, developed the website Mindfulnesstogether.com and the Inner Kids program, designed to teach young kids vital skills toward a more peaceful and compassionate world. Susan will be speaking at the the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego on February 4 - 5, 2012. Elisha: Susan, what an amazing path you've chosen. When I teach mindfulness to adults, I often hear, how come we didn't get this education when we were little, the world would be a much better place. What inspired you to leave the golden handcuffs and venture into this sorely needed area?
At this point the mental health benefits of a mindfulness practice are fairly well established. However, cultivating a more mindful life isn’t often easy - there are many obstacles at play. The places we work and the people we surround ourselves with are likely not trying to put mindfulness at the forefront of their lives. We’re also looking for that perfect quiet time to sit, stand or lie down and practice intentionally, paying attention to the present moment with fresh eyes. Sometimes we get restless, agitated, bored or begin to doubt ourselves that we can ever truly be mindful and so we reactively avoid it. The following is a quote by the 15th century Indian poet Kabir that I love to bring up again and again because it gets underneath these obstacles and drops us into mindfulness.
A short while ago I opened an opportunity for people to send me stories of mindfulness that can show the rest of us how it has had a practical impact on a particular event or their lives. I’m calling this column of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, “Voices." A number of people continue to write in with stories. If you have a story, continue writing in and as long as there are good stories that teach the rest of us how mindfulness can work in our lives, I will choose from them from time to time to post on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Of course those that get chosen can also send me a link that I’ll include in the post where people can learn more about them. Here’s a wonderful story that teaches us the wisdom behind slowing down in life by Angeliki:
Today it’s my honor to bring to you Martine Batchelor, who along with her husband Stephen Batchelor, is author of a number of books including, Walking On Lotus Flowers, Let Go,and The Spirit of the Buddha. Her husband Stephen Batchelor is author of Buddhism Without Beliefs and his most recent book Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. With her husband, Martine co-leads meditation retreats worldwide, including the upcoming retreat at InsightLA.org in Santa Monica on November 12-13 titled Toward a Secular Approach to Buddhism. Martine and Stephen now live in France. Today Martine talks to us about what is being gained and lost in a secular approach to Buddhism, where mindfulness is going and some tips on how to ground ourselves when we're feeling overwhelmed. Elisha: Mindfulness meditation can trace its origins to Buddhism, but is now being picked up in the fields of healthcare, psychology, business, and even politics as a way to live with greater ease, be more effective at what we do and even change our brains. What are the implications of secularizing this Buddhist teaching and practice, what is gained, what is lost?