Monday, February 25, 2013


If you're in the Philadelphia area, you're invited to attend a workshop on Mindfulness Meditation that I'm presenting on April 14th.  It's sponsored by NAMI PA/Main Line and will be held in Ardmore, PA at the Ardmore Presbyterian Church from 2 to 4pm.  Details are on the NAMI PA/Main Line website.

Also for anyone in Philadelphia, its suburbs, or South Jersey, I can help you establish a meditation practice.  I'll come to support groups, day programs, shelters, or any psychiatric care facility to give one-time instruction or to facilitate ongoing meditation groups.  My contact information is:  For more information see the website here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Simply in Control

I often think there are three types of people in the world:  Those who think they have control, and if they plan well and work hard things will always go their way; Those who think they have no control, and leave everything to chance; And those who think they can influence outcomes, plan well, work hard, but realize that sometimes unexpected things happen that throw them off course.  The first can suffer breakdowns when things don’t go their way, the second are often trapped by inertia and prone to do very little, and the third are adaptable, see various opportunities, and can often reach goals that they set.  I like to think of myself as one of the third group, and that mindset has helped me recover from the setbacks of serious episodes of bipolar disorder.  But I used to be in the first group, and things went bad.  During my worst episodes I found myself in the second group, and it was hard to do anything that could help me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Media and Stigma

Anthony Jorm writes of The Media Versus the Mentally Ill on the website Project Syndicate.  He addresses the way coverage of both violent events and mental illness reinforces the stigma that people with mental illness are predisposed to violence.  In his article he states that, in the American media, 39% of all reports on mental illness focused on either violence or danger.  He maintains that while 68% of adults know at least one person who has been hospitalized for a mental illness, only 9% have ever been threatened or physically harmed by such a person.  And yet, largely because of the stigma set forth by the media, 70% of Americans believe that a person hospitalized for a mental illness may be dangerous.

The mentally ill face this stigma everyday, and it keeps some of us from getting the help we need.  Jorm's article is worth a careful read, as it tears into the false picture of the mentally ill portrayed all too often.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Can't I Just Swim Laps?

When I went to school it was accepted that after an early period of development the brain was fixed and unchanging.  Brain cells, and brain function, that were lost were gone.  Cognition was static.  Outcomes in the treatment of serious mental illness, Parkinsons, and dementia were poor.  Today, science has shown us that none of those assumptions are true.  Neuroplasticity, or changes in the brain's cortical matter, is accepted and proven.  This can occur at any point in one's life.  Changes in the brain that can lead to improved behavior, mood regulation, and cognition happen often.  Even the atrophy in an aging brain can be reversed, and damaged brains can re-learn and heal.  Focused attention exercises such as meditation are very successful routes to neurogenesis.  Learning new skills is effective as well.  Another proven method is aerobic exercise.