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Sunday, October 26, 2008

MIDDLE WAY: An Expanded Concept of Mindfulness in Psychotherapy

This is a presentation delivered at the 2nd Asian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Conference in Bangkok on 20th October, 2008.

Abstract: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be efficacious for treatment of a wide range of psychological disorders. In the last two decades, there has been a fruitful integration of Buddhist thoughts and practices in CBT through the concept of mindfulness. But in the western literature, the integration of the mindfulness concept is rather narrow, and does not reflect the complexity of mindfulness as in Buddhism. Mindfulness is actually only one of the eight spiritual practice guidelines of the Middle Way, a pan-Buddhist principle for overcoming sufferings and generating happiness. Therefore, this article will highlight the lesser known aspect of mindfulness (Right Mindfulness) in the Middle Way, its synergistic relationship with the other seven practice guidelines i.e. Right Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Concentration, Thought, View, and their potential application in an evidence-based CBT approach.

Meditation & Psychosis

A talk delivered in the monthly Buddhist Mental Health Association (BMHA) meeting at Buddhist Gem Fellowship (BGF) Centre on 25th October, 2008.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My New Song: Count The Blessings...

Count the blessings
The rainbow of life
Let's put on a smile
With Joy...

Count the blessings
The fragrance of life
Well-come, well-go
The ripples of life


Magic of life, shiny and bright

Should we be light, with the cravings of life

Magic of life, the fireflies of life

Full of wonders, never better

Count the blessings
The music of life
Melody of Journey
To survive...

Count the blessings
The sunshine of life

Goodbye i say

To the shadows of life

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enhancing Mindful Self-Acceptance

Artwork by Rita Loyd
Article by Carson & Langer

(1) Actively observe novel distinctions. The act of observing new distinctions increases positive affect and also increases interest in the event, object, behavior, or situation (Langer & Pietrasz, 1995). Actively noticing new things in the environment (or actively noticing new aspects of things previously taken for granted) is a hallmark of mindful thinking. As active mental exploration becomes a way of life, it becomes easier to explore those aspects of self that have previously been kept hidden or avoided. Active exploration is judgment-free; as individuals continue to actively explore new aspects of self, they will enhance self-acceptance.

(2) Think of yourself as a ‘‘work in progress.’’ When one thinks of oneself in rigid immutable terms (e.g. ‘‘I am no good at math’’ or ‘‘I am not attractive’’) he or she becomes mindless and paves the way for self-fulfilling prophesy. Studies in Ellen Langer’s lab indicated that when rigid words such as ‘‘is’’ and ‘‘am’’ were replaced with ‘‘may be’’ and ‘‘could be,’’ participants responded with increased production and creativity (see Langer & Moldoveanu, 2000, for a review). Individuals can replace rigid words with possibility words in their self-narratives. The very act of replacing the certainty of convictions with the possibility that things ‘‘may be’’ true opens up the possibility that things may not be as one currently interprets them. This, in turn, creates a mindset open to personal change and acceptance.

(3) Contemplate puzzles and paradoxes.
Life is full of paradoxes. For example, individuals may both love and hate their parents or their bodies. They may at once feel victimized by—yet responsible for—an illness or a seemingly intolerable situation. Actively thinking about paradoxes increases one’s ability to tolerate ambiguity (and decreases the anxiety associated with uncertainty). Increased tolerance of ambiguity is another hallmark of mindfulness. The contemplation of paradoxes (example: the healing but destructive properties of time) allows one to accept paradox within him- or herself and leads to self-acceptance.

(4) Add humor to the situation.
Humor itself relies on mindfulness by forcing people to see a new and unexpected side to a given situation. (This is why a joke already heard and remembered, without being newly considered, is rarely funny.) When individuals notice humorous aspects of themselves or their situation, they are more likely to accept those aspects.

(5) View the situation from multiple perspectives.
When people are stuck in a rigid interpretation of their situation, they are less likely to be accepting of it. One way to become more mindful is to try to view problems from the perspective of different individuals. This may include the perspective of others involved in the situation (and, if appropriate, the humorous perspective of fictional observers, such as a dentist or a hairdresser).

(6) Consider alternative understandings of problematic aspects of yourself. How many ways can a ‘‘negative’’ aspect of self be viewed as useful? In what contexts could the problematic factor be considered beneficial? All problems can be seen as useful in some contexts. Viewing purported negative aspects of oneself or one’s life as having a silver lining may serve to increase self-acceptance. The difference between an ordeal and an adventure may be in how one looks at it.

(7) Keep a catalog of moments of joy.
The catalog can be written descriptions of joyful moments, photographs, or simply a mental file of memories that are easily accessible. Keep the catalog handy and open it often. A growing body of research indicates that an increase in positive mental state, even a mild increase such as one experiences from remembering positive events, markedly influences mental flexibility and creative problem solving (Langer, Janis, & Wolfer, 1975; also see Isen, 2000 for a review). The accumulation of moments of joy helps one to be accepting and grateful for his or her experiences.

(8) Start a ‘‘mindfulness’’ journal. Make a point to begin or end each day by writing down the significant events of the day. Look back on the events with the purpose of observing new things and new perspectives about them. Practice at mindfully viewing events and situations in retrospect will enhance the ability to mindfully experience events and situations at the time they occur. Keeping a journal also helps individuals to observe continuity and direction in their lives, enhancing self-acceptance.

Carson, S., & Langer, E. (2004). Mindful practice for clinicians and patients.
In L. Haas (Ed.), Handbook of primary care psychology (pp. 173–186).
London: Oxford.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PeaceFULL Communication

10 Things We Can Do to Contribute to Internal, Interpersonal, and Organizational Peace...

1. Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how we would like to relate to ourselves and others.

2. Remember that all human beings have the same needs.

3. Check our intention to see if we are as interested in others getting their needs met as our own.

4. When asking someone to do something, check first to see if we are making a request or a demand.

5. Instead of saying what we DON'T want someone to do, say what we DO want the person to do.

6. Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we'd like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.

7. Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone's opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.

8. Instead of saying “No,” say what need of ours prevents us from saying “Yes.”

9. If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what's wrong with others or ourselves.

10. Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.

-The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) would like there to be a critical mass of people using Nonviolent Communication language so all people will get their needs met and resolve their conflicts peacefully.

© 2001, revised 2004 Gary Baran & CNVC
The right to freely duplicate this document is hereby granted.

Learn More about Nonviolent Communication at
www.cnvc.org and www.nonviolentcommunication.com.

Mindfulness & Mastery in the Worksplace

By Dr. Saki F. Santorelli

In addition to this ongoing clinical work, I have the opportunity to teach in a wide variety of settings in both the public and private sectors. These programs are tailored to individual, corporate, or institutional needs with an underlying emphasis on the cultivation and application of mindfulness and mastery in the workplace. Out of one such program evolved: 21 Ways to Reduce Stress During the Workday.

During a follow-up program for secretarial staff, I was moved by their struggle to practically integrate the stability and sense of connectedness that they sometimes felt during the sitting meditation practice into their daily lives while at work. In response to their struggle, "21 Ways" came into print. In developing these ways, I proceeded by simply asking myself: How do I attempt to handle ongoing stress while at work? -- actually from the time I awaken in the morning until I return home at the end of the formal workday. How do I attempt to stitch mindfulness into the cloth my daily life? What helps me to wake up when I have become intoxicated by the sheer momentum and urgency of living? For full article click on MMW

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Transplant, Cellular Memory & Reincarnation

Transplant, Cellular Memory & Reincarnation
by Dr. Larry Dossey (MD)

i carry your heart with me . . .
. . . and whatever is done
by only me is your doing . . . .
—E.E. Cummings
“i carry your heart with me”
Transplanting Memories - Video Clip

Monday, September 1, 2008

The LUCK Factor

The Luck Factor by Prof. Dr. Richard Wiseman - FREE e-book

Some strategies to increase you luck:

1. Be opened to new experiences
2. Listen to and cultivate intuition
3. Try to be calm and relax
4. Count your blessings
5. Set goals and work hard to achieve the goals
6. Learn and grow from adversities
7. Practice positive affirmation and visualization
8. Use effective problem solving skills

An article, "The Luck Factor" by the same wiseman...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Letting go of grudges - Touch Good SEEDS

How to let go of GRUDGES?
(Online interactive exercise)

Using Signature Strengths

Two RCTs (randomised controlled trials) on Positive Psychotherapy for depression. Interventions used include: 1. Three Blessings, 2. Gratitude Visit, 3. Active & Constructive Responding, 4. Using Signature Strengths. For journal paper, click on PP.

The VIA Signature Strengths™
exercise is designed to encourage you to identify and own your signature strengths by finding new and/or more frequent uses for them. As challenging situations arise in your life, ask yourself how your signature strength could be applied to improve or make the most of the situation.

To determine your signature strengths, click on SS

Active & Constructive Responding

Two RCTs (randomised controlled trials) on Positive Psychotherapy for depression. Interventions used include: 1. Three Blessings, 2. Gratitude Visit, 3. Active & Constructive Responding, 4. Using Signature Strengths. For journal paper, click on PP.

Active & Constructive Responding
is an example of a Happiness Exercise by Dr. Martin Seligman from the Reflective Happiness Web site. This exercise is intended to help you respond actively and constructively to positive events reported to you by others.

Gratitude Visit

Two RCTs (randomised controlled trials) on Positive Psychotherapy for depression. Interventions used include: 1. Three Blessings, 2. Gratitude Visit, 3. Active & Constructive Responding, 4. Using Signature Strengths. For journal paper, click on PP.

The Gratitude Visit™
exercise is a powerful tool for increasing life satisfaction because it amplifies good memories about the past, and it forges a very strong bond with an important person from your past. The goal of this exercise is for you to experience the power of expressing your gratitude to someone who has touched your life.

Three Blessings

Two RCTs (randomised controlled trials) on Positive Psychotherapy for depression. Interventions used include: 1. Three Blessings, 2. Gratitude Visit, 3. Active & Constructive Responding, 4. Using Signature Strengths. For journal paper, click on PP.

Three Blessings™
is designed to increase your life satisfaction and to sweeten your memories about the past. It has been determined in well designed research studies that becoming much more conscious of good events reliably increases happiness and decreases depression.

Be grateful for things that went right...

Be grateful for things that didn't go wrong...

Be grateful for things that went wrong with a meaning...

Feedback on 3 Blessings practice...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buddhist Principles For Health & Healing

Click on picture for powerpoint slides

A Dhamma talk delivered at Seremban Suddhama Buddhist Society on 12th July, 2008. The book,"Don't Worry, Be Healthy - A Buddhist Guide For Health & Healing" can be downloaded by clicking on DWBHealthy

The slides on mindful body stretching and mindful relaxation breathing can be downloaded by clicking on PICTURES

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lessons from Tirokudda Sutta

Tirokudda Sutta is one of the Buddhist scriptures that talks about the realm of spirits and how we can effectively help our friends and relatives who happen to be born in this realm of existence...

The Magical Ang Pau

The Magical Ang Pau: Buddha's Advice On Making Money & Seeking Wealth

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mindfulness In Psychotherapy: An Introduction

This is an excellent paper by Dr. Chris Mace in the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment journal. i'm grateful that Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) came out yesterday as a short essay question in my part 2 master of psychiatry exam in HUKM. Mindfulness really WORKS! Download

‘Mindfulness’ has become a popular topic among psychological therapists. This introductory article explains what mindfulness is and how it can be developed, before exploring how it has been incorporated within psychoanalytic and cognitive–behavioural psychotherapies. These reflect general as well as specific presumed therapeutic actions. At present, variations in the way mindfulness is understood, taught and applied mean that it is too early to fully assess its potential. They demonstrate how the use of attention and awareness in therapy cuts across traditional divisions and where mindfulness in therapy is most in need of further investigation.

Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness-based Stress Management WORKBOOK

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10 Pro-Happinessant effects of KINDNESS

I have been thinking about the possible mechanism of actions of kindness in generating happiness. This is what i have figured out:

1. When we help others, we discover that there are people with worse problem.

2. When we help others, we discover that we are not the only one having similar problem.

3. When we help others, we may be helped by others who are grateful to us.

4. When we help others, we focus on our strengths and this promotes self-esteem.

5. When we help others, we become less preoccupied with our own problems.

6. When we help others, we may be appreciated and this makes us feel good.

7. When we help others, we get to meet more people, make friends and ventilate our problems.

8. When we help others, we get to settle our unresolved guilt.

9. When we help others, we activate parts of our brain responsible for happiness.

10. When we help others, a spiritual law automatically rewards us with happiness.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Electone HS-8 Performance

My Electone HS-8 Performance

My Electone HS-8 Performance

"The Secret" - Self-Help or Media Hype?

What's 'The Secret' to happiness?
What's 'The Secret' to happiness?

This is an interesting interview involving a psychiatrist and one of the author's of "The Secret".

What Makes People Happy?

Don't worry, be happy!
Don't worry, be happy!

Dr. Martin Seligman - a psychologist

What doesn't increase happiness very much?

1. Having a lot of money
2. Getting married
3. Having children

What makes people happy?

Dr. Pepper Schwartz - a sociologist

1. Give yourself permission to be happy
2. Accentuate the positive
3. Spend time to do things that make you happy
4. See a doctor if you have a psychiatrict disorder

Dr. Sonya Lyubomirsky - a psychologist

1. Count your blessings
2. Practice act of kindness
3. Be optimistic and positive in thinking
4. Having happy relationship and friendship

Bhutan's Gross National Happiness

Bhutan's Gross National Happiness
Bhutan's Gross National Happiness

The Psychology of Satisfaction

Psychology of satisfaction
Psychology of satisfaction

Dr. Marci - author of "Happiness For No Reason"

Happiness set-point:

50% - genetics
10% - circumstances
40% - habitual thoughts and actions

1. Pay particular attention to the good time
2. Express gratitude and count your blessings
3. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people
4. Wish others well and happy

Saturday, April 5, 2008

More Than One Life: REBIRTH

More Than One Life: REBIRTH

A Dhamma talk delivered at Brickfields Maha Vihara on 5th April, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

MIND is beyond the Brain

Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century

Current mainstream scientific opinion holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in the brain. This book demonstrates with empirical evidence that this reductive materialism is not only incomplete but false. Summary of chapter contents.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Children with spontaneous life between life recall

Buddhist cosmology talks about the 31 realms of existence: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html

This is a paper from the Journal of Near Death Studies that suggests the existence of different realms of existence:

By Poonam Sharma & Jim B Tucker

For the last 40 years, researchers have collected cases of children who claim to remember previous lives. In a minority of these cases, the subjects also claim to remember events that took place during the intermission between the end of their previous life and their birth in the current life. Subjects in these cases tend to make more verified statements about the previous life they claim to remember than do other subjects of reincarnation type cases, and they tend to recall more names from that life. Analysis of reports from 35 Burmese subjects indicates that the intermission memories can be broken down into three parts: a transitional stage, a stable stage in a particular location, and a return stage involving choosing parents or conception. A comparison of these reports to reports of near-death experiences (NDEs) indicates that they show features similar to the transcendental component of Western NDEs and have significant areas of overlap with Asian NDEs. http://www.survival-research.net/downloads/2004_Sharma_Tucker_Intermission_memories_JNDS.pdf

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Buddhism, Medicine & Bioethics

This was a 15-minute presentation in an interfaith forum organized by the National University of Malaysia (UKM) Medical School (Click on the slide above to download the powerpoint presentation - slide commentary available in 'notes view')

Further readings:

1. Ministering to the sick and terminally ill by Lily de Silva

2. The Buddha's Teachings on Aging, Illness, Death & Separation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

3. Buddhism & Medical Ethics: A Bibliographic Introduction by Damien Keown

4. Buddhist Bioethics by James Hughes

5. Bioethics from the view of Buddhism by Shoji Mori

6. The Lotus Sutra and Health Care Ethics by Robert E. Florida

Friday, February 29, 2008

How is it possible to remember past life?

By Dr. Roger J. Woolger

Expert interview on Reincarnation

Link to the INTERVIEWS

Dr. Jim Tucker - child psychiatrist
Dr. Roger Woolger - psychotherapist
Dr. Robert Almeder - professor in philosophy
Dr. Charles Skillas - hypnotherapist

Potential DANGER of Past Life Hypnotic Regression Therapy

Past life regression therapy is gaining a lot of popularity lately in the local Buddhist circle due to the availability of therapist. Though there is a lot of scientific research to support the validity of reincarnation, there is very little or no scientific studies to support the validity of PLRT to access past life memories and facilitate healing. This blog is posted to highlight the potential danger of PLRT using hypnotic regression as of Professor Dr. Ian Stevenson's personal opinion. Professor Dr. Ian Stevenson from University of Virginia is also the pioneer in scientific research on reincarnation. Personally, i'm bloging this neither to discourage people from going for PLRT nor disparage the work of past life regression therapist. It's just an effort to educate people on PLRT so that they can make a well informed decision before going for PLRT.

"If the subject has been instructed by the hypnotist--explicitly or implicitly--to "go back to another place and time" or given some similar guidance, the new "personality" may appear to be one of another period of history...Experiments by Baker and by Nicholas Spanos and his colleagues have shown how easily different suggestions given by a hypnotist can influence the features of the "previous personality" in conformity with suggestions".

"In fact, however, nearly all such hypnotically evoked "previous personalities" are entirely imaginary just as are the contents of most dreams. They may include some accurate historical details, but these are usually derived from information the subject has acquired normally through reading, radio and television programs, or other sources".

"A marked emotional experience during the hypnotic regression provides no assurance that memories of a real previous life were recovered. The subjective experience of reliving a previous life may be impressive to the person having the experience, and yet the "previous life" may be a fantasy, like most of our dreams. Also, benefit (even dramatic improvement) in some physical or psychological symptom does not provide evidence that a real previous life has been remembered. Persons with psychosomatic symptoms and psychoneuroses recover following a wide variety of psychotherapeutic measures. There are many general effects of any psychotherapeutic measure".

"The procedure of hypnotic regression to "previous lives" is not without some hazards. Instances have occurred in which the "previous personality" has not "gone away" when instructed to do so and the subject in such cases has been left in an altered state of personality for several days or more before restoration of his normal personality"

"I am not now engaging in experiments with hypnotic regression to "previous lives." I do not recommend hypnotists to persons who wish to have this experience. I do not approve of any hypnotist who makes promises to clients that suggest they will certainly return to a real previous life under his direction. I do not approve of anyone who charges fees for acting as a hypnotist in such experiments".

- Professor Dr. Ian Stevenson

Remembering Dangerously Recovered Memory

A Case of the Psychotherapists' Fallacy: Hypnotic Regression to Previous Lives

Life Before Life

Life Before Life is a book written by psychiatrist Dr. Jim Tucker, which is a very readable overview of more than 40 years of research at the University of Virginia Division of Personality Studies into past life recall by children. The foreword to the book is written by Professor Dr. Ian Stevenson. The book discusses:
  1. British twins whose birthmarks and behavior closely resembled that of their deceased older sisters.
  2. A boy from Africa who knows the names and personal details of people from another village, without having ever been there.
  3. An American boy who believes he is the reincarnation of his own grandfather.
  4. A child who dies of a gunshot in a previous life and carries a birthmark of the same size, shape and placement in this life.
  5. The book also discusses objections to reincarnation: the paucity of persons who actually claim to remember a past life, the fragility of memories, the population explosion, the mind-body problem, fraud, and others.

Book review in Journal of Scientific Exploration: http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/v19/n4/bookReview-Life-Before-Life.html

Example of case studies: http://lifebeforelife.com/casestudies.htm

Thursday, February 21, 2008