Integrating a user friendly “practice” or routine that facilitates your ability to “stay connected” with your “higher power” can transform an effective and powerful tool, into a transcendent one.
As reported in her blog on PsychCentral, Traci Pederson discusses recent research into the effectiveness of prayer with people who suffer from anxiety related disorders. Go to: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/09/18/new-study-examines-the-effects-of-prayer-on-mental-health/
Bipolar specific recommendations for interventions include a practice/intervention proven effective, and introduced by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., ABPP as a component of her Dialectal Behavior Treatment (DBT) model. The Mindfulness techniques found in DBT are derived from a Buddhist philosophy and is often taught to consumers of mental health services by their treatment providers. A study conducted by Stange, Eisner, Holzel et.al., revealed that patients with bipolar reported significant improvements in executive functioning, memory, and ability to initiate and complete tasks when using this technique. [i]
Although there may be little current imperial research on the use of “spirituality” in general as it relates to managing the symptoms of bipolar and in increasing the overall well being and functional abilities of people who struggle with depression and mania, I would contend that the research seems to be leaning in that direction. With that said, as a psycho-spiritual consultant, I am definitely an advocate for integrating a spiritual practice into your overall Action and Safety Plan, or Wellness and Recovery Plan and I have personally witnessed my own patients be transformed by this approach.
With this said, the best approach is to make it personal for you. Take the time to soul search, and explore the actual root of your own personal spiritual beliefs. Then, consider your actual personality, desires, and limitations. Once you have a clear picture in your own mind about what really brings you to the core of your own understanding of living a spiritual life, you can explore how to incorporate a personalized practice into your daily living routine.
- If you are a Christian who is also an extrovert, and knows that you need to around people- then join a Church (or go Church shopping until you find one that suits you and your disposition and theological orientation ) and begin by attending a Sunday service that incorporates prayer and/or meditation into the program.
- If you are an Introvert that cherishes your Jewish Heritage, but do not want to deal with allot of people all of the time, you might consider working with a local Rabi to begin to incorporated some morning prayers and meditations into your routine.
- If you are a Muslim that lives to far away from a masjid, you can still begin to pray and or incorporate Zikr into a weekly meditation.
- If you do not identify with any mainstream religion but you feel that intuitive sense that there is a “higher power” or “source of all being” that you can connect to, you might explore the different types of meditation. There are many meditation techniques that are not associated with any formal religion.
Today, it is very easy to put together a personal practice, especially if you have a computer. Lets say you are an introverted person who benefits from physical exercise, has no identification with any religion, but wants to experience that “transcendence” that all of those “spiritual” people talk about. Using your computer to find a Hatha Yoga Routine might be just right for you. You can use Youtube for an endless supply of yoga to follow along with. All of the examples that I provided embrace the function of mindfulness within their practices. Prayer and meditation in its numerous forms all achieve the same function of quieting the mind and shifting one’s focus from the worries of this world toward an inner place of peace and balance. Such a practice can strengthen the mind’s ability to shift focus at a time of being “triggered”. A spiritual routine can fortify your identified coping skills, increasing the probability that you will use your coping skills and move through uncomfortable conditions without an episode of depression or mania.
Our next blog will talk about using the ABC method of identifying triggers, environmental stressor, antecedent precursors, and reinforces of cycle of “dis” order. Taking the time to do this is crucial as this self understanding will help you identify the best strategies for managing your symptoms and for sustaining stability, independence, and a overall well being.
Send your topic requests to: [email protected]
 Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar Disorder: Effects on Cognitive Functioning – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277324/ (retrieved 2/14/2015)