More About the Author
My work focuses on critical thinking and extraordinary claims of the paranormal, relaxation and meditation, and most recently mindfulness. I earned my doctorate in psychology in 1975 from Michigan State University and obtained my license as a clinical psychologist. Since 1976 I have taught at Roosevelt University's Psychology department and continue full time as a tenured full professor. I have taught and supervised undergraduate, MA, doctoral students in scientific psychology, dissertation work, clinical psychology, assessment, stress, mindfulness, and critical thinking.
From 1982-1991 I served as Psychology Department Chair and created Roosevelt University's doctoral program in clinical psychology. In addition, I am Founding Director of the Roosevelt University Stress Institute (and the Pseudoscience and Paranormal Laboratory).
My publications include 22 books and more than three dozen articles. In addition, I have served as expert outside reviewer for PsycCRITIQUES, Perceptual and Motor Skills, The Brain, and Psychosomatic Medicine. I have published invited chapters as "guest expert" in eight textbooks and encyclopedias. My book publishers have included Aldine, Guilford Press, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Plenum, Praeger, Prentice-Hall, Research Press, Springer, and Wiley/Blackwell. My personal and professional materials on critical thinking as well as mindfulness and relaxation are positively regarded (two have been reviewed by the American Psychological Association's PsycCRITIQUES as "best" in the field).
In 2014 I retired as a Clinical Psychologist to devote time to developing and teaching effective science-based approaches to mindfulness. My latest series of books, "Mindfulness Reinvented," is scheduled to be released late 2015. I share my ideas, techniques, and findings in training programs and workshops for health professionals and the general public.
MY APPROACH TO MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is a core brain-based skill. To be mindful is to focus. It is to do so fully, in a way that is accepting and undistracted. To be mindful is not to be bothered or preoccupied by self-centered thought or mind-wandering. As such, mindfulness is not just another set of mental health tips or spiritual guidelines. Mindfulness is a tangible practice-based skill centered in brain physiology, or in technical terms "neuroplasticity of prefrontal cortical, amigdalic, and localized alpha activity"). Translated, to learn mindfulness is quite literally to develop "mindfulness brain muscle." We might even consider mindfulness as "brain fitness."
Mindfulness is a tool for effective and focused living and spiritual exploration. However, it is ideally introduced outside of organized religion, where it is often contaminated and constricted by ancient doctrine and dogma. My vision is that mindfulness is best taught in a nondogmatic, ever questioning, science-based, and spiritually attuned educational environment.
When teaching mindfulness I begin with the observation that many who explore the technique quit out of frustration or boredom. To maximize success, I use a comprehensive and individualized strategy. Training focuses on a three-part "mindfulness triangle" of core exercises:
1. Body/breath mindfulness scanning meditation;
2. Concentrative, or "centered focus meditation" (first on 5 potential focal target, later reduced to one or two), and
3. Pure mindfulness.
We then combine this core triangle with five mindfulness booster exercise strategies borrowed from the five basic approaches to relaxation and stress relief (breathing exercises, yoga stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenics, and imagery). Each booster strategy works for different individuals and situations. Boosters augment training by enhancing skill at reducing distraction and mind wandering, as well as cultivating focus, interest, and motivation.
Training concludes by creatively and strategically "pairing" brief mindfulness exercises with everyday activities (walking, eating, listening to music) and then "coupling" mindfulness experiences with one's personal spiritual beliefs and life philosophies. We seek to integrate the skills of mindfulness with everyday living.
Training is guided by a powerful tracking tool, the Mindfulness Experiences Questionnaire. This empirically-developed self-report inventory tracks four facets of Premindful Relaxation, 7 facets of Core Mindfulness, and 3 facets of Mindful Engagement and Transcendence. Through tracking, the student can readily see multiple signs of progress and identify fruitful strategies as well as those that appear to be unproductive and worth letting go.
To summarize, my approach to mindfulness training has four phases:
MINDFULNESS TRIANGLE TRAINING
MINDFULNESS BOOSTER TRAINING
MINDFULNESS PAIRING TRAINING
MINDFULNESS COUPLING TRAINING
The Chicago Mindfulness Project (CMP) is dedicated to the professional exploration and instruction of mindfulness skills to health professionals and personal seekers. The CMP seeks to work with and learn from all professional, religious, and spiritual groups seriously committed to exploring the promise of mindfulness.