Psych Central’s very own Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. (Mindfulness and Psychotherapy) released a new book a couple of days ago: The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest Of Your Life.

Dr. Goldstein advocates an approach to mental health that considers all areas of health – mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual. He promotes mindfulness as a way we can do away with anxiety and negativity and achieve self-acceptance, inner peace, and ultimately freedom.

I was able to talk with Dr. Goldstein about mindfulness and how this practice can help us get to the space of awareness he calls “The Now Effect.”

Alicia Sparks: How do you explain “mindfulness psychology” in laymen’s terms, for readers who aren’t familiar with the term or practice?

Elisha Goldstein: The field of psychology has many different waves from psychoanalysis, to behavior therapy, then cognitive therapy, and on to others such as humanistic and transpersonal therapies. The specific descriptions of these aren’t important at the moment, what’s important is that right now we’re seeing a massive influence in the field of psychology with mindfulness. Mindfulness by itself just means awareness. Who couldn’t use a bit more of that? As a practice it means intentionally paying attention to what is right here and now while putting aside our programmed biases of the past.

In other words, it’s a highly practical and effective way of retraining our minds from unhealthy states to more prevalent healthy states. That’s the most basic definition of mindfulness and psychotherapy that I can think of.

At times the therapy is simply on the therapist to engage mindfulness to sustain a kind and compassionate presence. As research has shown over and over again that the key factor in psychotherapy is the relationship between therapist and client. If the relationship isn’t there, the rest falls apart. So mindfulness being used by the therapist alone helps foster a connected relationship.

There might also be times where mindfulness practices or meditations are taught to the client to provide skills to ground to the present moment, regulate difficult emotions, cultivate a more flexible mind and prime the mind toward more of the good in life.

The secret is in the spaces of awareness that are always available. In these spaces we find clarity, opportunity, choice and a sense of freedom. When we get in touch with that space that is what I call “The Now Effect.”

Sparks: Who is The Now Effect‘s target audience? Who are the people you feel would benefit the most from the book? For example, to whom would you recommend the book? What would he or she be struggling with? Interested in?

Goldstein: For quite a while now I’ve been honing a writing style that hopefully takes at times difficult concepts from science, psychology and mindfulness and makes them accessible to all of us. I wrote The Now Effect in this very same way. To be perfectly honest, this book is based on a mixture of current science, psychology and a history of wisdom traditions fashioned in a way that is fitting for our modern times. A colleague of mine Christopher Germer said it best, he calls this a book “based on ancient mind training techniques with a thoroughly modern twist.”

The modern twist is in the way I write, but also woven into the book is very current and accessible stories, research, neuroscience and practical exercises that back it up. I’ve taken it a bit further and provided 14 short instructional videos that are woven through the book. I also wanted to make this book more interactive, so you can view by pointing and clicking your phone at the page of the book or with a click of the mouse to the place on the web where they reside. If someone has an iPad, the videos are just embedded in there. This was a lot of fun to weave these videos into the book.

Anyone who is interested in retraining their mind to more readily get back to what really matters in life is interested in The Now Effect.

Sparks: Regardless of any other lessons they learn from the book, what is the one thing you hope ALL readers walk away with?

Goldstein: What an important question. The lesson here is that most of the time we do things in life completely on auto-pilot. From a very young age we begin learning like sponges how this world works. Every experience gets programmed into our brain and then referenced later to make a perception and judgment call on the present moment.

Somewhere in our brain choices are being made for us, some good, some not-so-good. This book is about getting back in touch with that sense of choice, breaking free from the automatic snap-judgments that lead to unhealthy states of being in this world and literally rewiring a healthier brain.

Neuroscience is showing us that you can teach an old dog new tricks, The Now Effect shows us how. The secret is in the spaces.

Folks in the Los Angeles area can attend a book signing on March 3, 2012, and folks around the globe can connect with Goldstein and other The Now Effect readers by joining the official The Now Effect Community.

Learn more about The Now Effect, including how to order your own copy, at Simon & Schuster.

Image Source: Amazon