Field Guide to Awareness
6 September 2013
Awareness and Mental Health
A major upheaval is occurring within the mental health industry. Many practitioners are emphasizing the basic techniques of Awareness, namely the simple practice of being in the present moment and observing without evaluation or judgment. Simple meditation has been proven in a host of clinical studies to be effective especially for depression. A lower relapse rate has also attracted attention of the professionals. No drugs, no eternal talk therapy, fewer relapse, what’s not to like?
So that’s what accounts for the shingle you seen in a snapshot we took in the beautiful Victorian town of Port Townsend, Washington on the Olympic peninsula. It merely says “Mindful Counseling”. Professionals can attend conferences and seminars nearly every week on this topic not so much because its a fad but because it’s simple and it works for a signiﬁcant number of patients.
For a decade or more, Fr. Tony has noted that many issues that cause a person to seek counseling can be self-treated by Awareness techniques with the exceptions of serious traumas and phobias. Seems the practice is catching up with the assertion. For an in depth secular account see The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn You can read more about a mindful approach to depression in this book. It has a great clinical description of what happens in depression and the therapeutic approach.
You can use the exercises in Discovering Awareness to deal with your own issues as they arise. You may ﬁnd that they shrink to a manageable size or just disappear. The exercise “Using Awareness to Deal with Past Negative Experiences” in Chapter 8 is particularly helpful. Awareness particularly the insights gained in the Coming Home exercises (pages 76 and 83) deepen the value by extending it from a purely secular to a spiritual dimension.
If you have experience with this approach, we’d love to start a conversation here.