I decided to start this blog as a way to share some of what I've learned about the nature of human suffering and its alleviation. I'm doing this mostly with an eye on anxious suffering, and my experience with a new approach to psychological health and wellness called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT, said as one word). I won't claim to have all the answers. My intent is to share.

Acceptance and mindfulness-based approaches are changing the landscape of psychology, mental health care, medicine, and society. They are based on a very old and radical idea, namely, that a good deal of human suffering is fed by efforts to struggle with and avoid our own psychological and emotional pain. New research from many sources now shows that this war tends to amplify our pain, takes enormous effort, doesn't work very well, and can keep us stuck and suffering.

So, what's the alternative? The alternative is this: paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment, with a quality of kindness and compassion (self and other), and with both eyes on living out your values, right here, right now. These are skills that we all can learn and many studies show that people who learn them report more vitality, less illness, better quality of life, and greater freedom too.

Instead of more struggle, we learn to open up to our experience just as it is (not as our minds say it is), to hold our thoughts more lightly, to connect with our values (what we care about in this life), and to carry our minds, bodies, and personal history forward into a more vital and valued life. This set of very simple ideas goes against just about everything we've learned, at least in the West, since kindergarten. That's why they can be so powerful!

We are all in the same soup. Pain, in all its forms, is part of the human condition. Yet, that pain -- whether physical, emotional, psychological -- need not be fed and allowed to mushroom into the suffering that takes over and shrinks lives. There are ways to douse the flames that feed needless suffering -- the spin off that our mind and old history creates -- and to live well with the pains, joys, and sorrows that are part of life. This is where I think ACT can help.

Peace -john

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook Study

I've been away for a bit, working on many things. One of those things is a website for a new study we are now ready to launch worldwide over the internet. That study aims to find look at The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety and to see whether and how it may be helpful for people who are struggling and suffering with anxiety-related difficulties.

I'm writing now to alert you and those you may know and love to the study website where you can find more information about it and how to sign up.

The study site is at www.ACTforAnxiety.Com.

The study is really for people who have not started using the workbook, and in fact, we offer folks who are willing and eligible to participate, a free copy of the workbook as part of the project.

Now, I'm asking that you help us spread the word around the internet and the world. We know that 1 in 4 adults in the United States alone suffer from anxiety disorders. These numbers are staggering. It doesn't have to be this way. There are effective treatments. We hope you will help us find out if the workbook is helpful, how it is helpful, and for whom it may help.

Thank you.

With a Kind Heart,

John P. Forsyth

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Books