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Mindful : August 2016
to ensure that we can be bridges for clients, not barriers, to not go beyond our expertise, to test and refine, and to acknowledge our limits when we see problems that are better served by someone else in another way.” Segal and Dimidjian are cautious and visionary in equal measure. Mindfulness, Dimidjian says, could definitely become an important element in raising mental hygiene for all of us: “We do not prioritize daily practices to protect mental health, well-being, and safety the way we do practices for physical health and safety, like brushing our teeth, exer- cising, and wearing seatbelts. We’re at a point of learning about daily prac- tices that can help protect our mental health and well-being. Once we’ve identified those practices and how they are effective, we need to find out what’s going to be required to make those commonplace, routine parts of daily lives in a really broad way.” Is mindfulness the future of ther- apy, in particular for mood disorders? In strict terms, the answer is no, since it is foolish to think that there is THE future of anything. When it comes to human beings and what ails us, you can forget about silver bullets, one- size-fits-all solutions. “Mood disor- ders are complex phenomena,” Dimi- djian says. “Even the word depression does not mean one thing. It’s a very broad thing. Effectively treating and preventing it is not going to boil down to one solution. You need a portfolio of options, targeted to the needs of individuals and communities. Good science is clear about boundaries: this treatment works for these kinds of people under these conditions.” At present, if Harry, trembling in his kitchen, is lucky, he can reach a mental health professional whose toolkit includes access to proven mindfulness-based programs, covered by insurance, and maybe someday he might have something on his phone that would truly prevent a relapse. It might change his life, and the life of his son, and all those in his tribe. If he is not so lucky, who knows? ● strategies for preventing relapse. It is clearly intended to leave you with tools for life, and you can return to your toolkit online anytime you want. To make it personal and interactive, you have a chance to type in questions and receive answers from instruc- tors. These Q&As are preserved, and you can see other people’s questions and how they were answered. The meditation instructions are offered by video and audio. You get mindfulness homework that you’re asked to report on, and with some very dynamic ani- mations, you are asked to inquire into what’s happening with your thoughts and emotions in your body. Metaphor and poetry also figure prominently. When considering that your thoughts might be like passing clouds, you are looking at passing clouds. The experience engages you in the same way as a video-game— except the rooms you navigate are in your mind and body and surround- ings. What is most surprising, though, is how effective the videos of group inquiry can be. I really felt I came to know the nine people taking part in the MBCT program that was filmed for MMB. I empathized, and I saw myself in them. I came away sus- pecting that some interaction with live people would be needed to fully support ongoing practice, but MMB felt like what Skype has done for so many families: it closed the distance. I felt I was there. When I talked with Segal about MMB, he emphasized that “Sona and I are committed to striking the right balance between increasing access to mindfulness-based clinical care and ensuring the integ rity of what is taught. We’re trying to find ways to support ongoing practice with tech- nologies that may not resemble the traditional teacher–student interac- tion.” Dimidjian told me that while they are willing to use “disruptive technologies”—think of how Inter- net banking or online shopping have changed how we live—to make wider dissemination possible, they must take great care. “As clinicians we are bound to an ethical code to not do harm, JOSEPH 34, Musician About five years ago, I was in a really bad place. For years, therapy had been just talking for an hour and the therapist listening. But when I left the office I had no methods, just advice—no interven- tion. When I took MBCT, it was the first time I was given the power to understand what’s happening with my thoughts and therefore help myself. I believed my thoughts were me, totally. Now, I can be in a more, you might say, neutral, objective position. I don’t have to be carried away by emotions and thoughts, not overthrown by mood. It’s not a cure. I still get depressed, but the practice allows me to handle it, to get over it, and let it pass. How can something so simple help you deal with something so complex as depression? I like practicing with others. I find it hard to do myself. Today no one else showed up for my regular sitting group. I decided to do it anyway. Almost the whole sit was about not wanting to be there, tensing up, sensing the guilt I’d feel if I quit, and then that finally subsided. I was just sitting there, observing. ILLUSTRATIONBYKEVINVANAELST(RIGHT)ANDBYISTOCK.COM/ARTVEA(LEFT) 56 mindful August 2016 psychology