Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Medical Model

Reposted from November 2012

While I believe mindfulness meditation has been the keystone to my recovery, I still think of it as an adjunct therapy.  I couldn’t manage mental illness as well as I do now if I did not meditate.  But I acknowledge that the medication my doctor prescribes and the therapy visits I have with him are crucial as well.  Only through the consistent application of all three therapies am I well.

Mindfulness meditation is currently all the rage, and it works.  But I am wary of its proponents who claim it can treat (or even cure) mental illness by itself.  Meditation is a powerful tool when used to decrease stress and increase well-being.  But if we are to maintain that mental illnesses are biochemical malfunctions of the brain and nervous system, then we must allow room in treatment for medicine.  Therapy also has a long history of positively impacting the lives of those challenged by psychiatric illness.  Meditation, when added to more traditional and well-tested methods of treatment, can help a patient successfully manage a challenging life.  I, and so many others like me, am proof of that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Anxiety and Society

The primary job of the American consumer is to manage anxiety.  Whether confronted with choices of excess or sustenance, balancing a dizzying array of options with limited financial resources, the classic economic problem, has resulted in a society of people pre-occupied with managing stress and its related discomforts.  Connectivity and its string of constant updates have led a certain status to novelty.  The constant effort to be relevant, witty, insightful, or on-trend, or at least not mundane, adds a knowing sense of “not good enough – does anyone really care?” to our increasingly tangential social interactions.  We used to confine our choices to what we knew was available, and we used to confide our opinions in a trusted few.  Now the world is our market and our audience, although I fear many fret that no one is listening.  The ease with which we can inquire, inform, and impress (or disappoint) is boundless.  We buckle under the pressure to be exceptional individuals with networks who care.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Guided Meditation Can Become a Distraction

Reprinted from April 2013

I come from a long line of seekers, my mother’s side of the family known for trying on various spiritual traditions in a search for truth.  My mother herself has been experimenting with meditation recently, and has tried several forms of guided meditation.  The one that has worked best for her is Oprah Winfrey's and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation challenge on the computer.

Last week she wanted to share with me a meditation she finds beneficial.  It was a busy day at her house, with much of the family in and out, so we escaped to her office to follow the guided instructions.  While I am glad so many people are following this program and finding relaxation in meditation, I found it too distracting to be truly mindful.