- Mental Health
Step 1 Enter If You Can, Therapeutic Awareness
How Do I Enter Therapeutic Awareness
Therapeutic awareness is the beginning and end of BPF Therapy.
BPF Therapy is living life as therapy.
Life naturally flows toward death and decay such that, if you do nothing, you are decaying.
In order to 'live' you must rejuvenate yourself; this rejuvenation is therapy.
The most basic form of therapy is positive, therapeutic awareness.
It is important that this awareness is as free as possible from unnecessary sensations of physical pain.
It is important that this awareness is as free as possible from unnecessary sensations of fear and anxiety.
It is important that this awareness exhibits a low degree of time pressure. Time should be slow, natural, and largely forgotten.
Therapeutic awareness must progress in a positive direction naturally without force, resistance, and domination.
The Philosophical Approach Part 1
This approach is influenced by the works of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. I understand Krishnamurti to say that there is no method to entering therapeutic awareness. Anyone who wants to do it must use the full measure of his or her attention to concentrate on the present moment awareness of his/her life, with a quiet mind, free from impinging impressions of the past, free of 'thinking', and with this mind that perceives present reality, may at times use the old mind of thought for purely technical purposes of living in a social world.
As an example, our normal way of operating is to plan on going to a college we have never been to and marrying a person whom we have an image or that we've never met; this is mistaken and how can we be anything but dissappointed. Rather you start with what is real and you can only perceive what is real when your fantasies about the future and memories of the past are silenced, and from that mind, you can use knowledge and the past, but not the other way around.
There is no more to be said of this method. Anything else to be learned, the one willing to learn it will learn by being aware in his or her daily life. I hold that this is presently my best answer but like all answers it is incomplete and we will try many different answers and approaches even some that seem to contradict each other because non-contradiction is not our concern here, as that is philosophy. In psychology and psychotherapy as in other fields, we are not dealing with single consistent information systems but many diverse and criss-crossing systems and contradiction is ubiquitious and not necessarily a problem.
As in all my expounding of the therapy, you may do some reading in the links for more information but better it is to live your therapy and if you do that by reading then read away but if your awareness tends toward other things or if you don't know what your awareness tends toward, let the mind be quiet and learn from yourself. No further reading is required so do so at your leisure and for the experience, not as a task.
The Philosophical Approach Part II
For those with chronic pain and anxiety who need a plan to follow, or exercises, or a method, I recommend Mindfulness Meditation as taught and researched by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Stress Reduction Clinic. The book and audiotapes entitled Full Catastrophe Living are a good resource.
Please discuss in the comments sections any routes reaching therapeutic states in daily life that you have used and find helpful.
The Pharmacological and Medical Approach
Drug treatments such as antidepressants, anti-pain medications, and anti-anxiety medications can remove barriers to entering therapeutic awareness. When pharmacological aid is needed, it is important to choose non-addictive substances with a low degree of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal. The reason for this is because, like alcohol, when tolerance develops, withdrawal sets in parts of the brain even if the drug is continued and this can lead to nervous dysfunction due to excitotoxicity. The effect is the kind of damage that happens during delerium tremens, but spread out over years, even decades of medication use, rather than an abrupt seizure or stroke seen in delerium dremens or alcohol withdrawal seizures or strokes. There are approaches to treating pain, depression, and anxiety that use substances with a low potential for dependence and withdrawal. It will require research and testing to find which substances are the right fit for an individual. Safety, and weighing risks and benefits are of utmost importance.
New techniques such as deep brain stimulation and less invasive electrical stimulation techniques such as TENS units show some promise in the treatment of pathological depression and pain. In the future, gene therapies may be available. Not only should technology be used to treat chronic depression and anxiety, it should also be used to bring people who experience normal levels of anxiety and pain above baseline to greater states of happiness and appreciation of life.
Below is a link to a discussion of euphoric pharmacology by Phiosopher David Pearce who advocates the abolition of suffering via pharmacology and technological means. Again, it is not the goal of this therapy to prescribe, agree, or disagree with the information presented; rather, we are considering and learning.
Treatments such as dextromethorphan, gabapentin, and pregabalin among others have shown some efficacy in chronic pain and anxiety with fewer side effects than their more addictive counterparts like oxycontin and methadone. Please share in the comments section any treatments you have used or researched that were effective with a low potential for tolerance and dependence.
The Scientific Happiness Research Approach
Happiness research has produced some findings which are touted to lead to happiness which I define as therapeutic states. In pursuing happiness, it is very easy to end up in the very same trap that the philosophical approach rejects: wanting, having, being dissatisfied, and repeating this pattern. However, it is possible that the philosophical approach doesn't work because we are resource-grubbing biological beings evolved in hiearchical social groups and those are the imputs that we can expect to respond to. Again, it's not the purpose of this therapy to decide which viewpoint is right or wrong because although proponents of one view or another will hold that you cannot do one AND the other, that they are mutually exclusive to comprehend or actualize, that is mere tribalism, and untrue. You can try them all whenever, however you like. When someone correctly describes reality, it does not belong to them, it's not a theory, it's real. So, if you do something which actually works and is actually effective, it doesn't matter who said it or what theory it comes from or who believes it or what it contradicts. We will explain the theoretical and cognitive underpinnings of this therapy later, but for now just understand, we do not argue ontological absolute truths, rather we use whatever patterns and information might be useful.
Dr. Martin Seligman, a proponent of positive psychology, has devised a formula for happiness called the PERMA formula:
P - Positive emotions
E - Positive engagement
R - Positive relationships
M - Meaning
A - Accomplishments
I believe this formula can be used productively OR it can be used non-productively to judge oneself as a failure or not good enough, but we will simply have to see if it is useful for us individually.
Last, and least, as the approaches are listed hierachically according to my own preferences, the last approach is pursuing success with an eye toward happiness, essentially, an exalted form of the rat-race. The following list was compiled by researchers in the field of happiness research (I will have to track down the references). Pluses indicate a greater association with happiness.
These correlates will suggest some directions for growth or change, individually or politically. You may decide for example to improve your income or to move to a place where there is less racial discrimination or take that on as a cause if it has been a problem. However, you will see that though higher income is associated with greater happiness, having goals to improve incomes seems to be negatively associated with happiness. So use the list skeptically to reason out and possibly inform some of your own thinking, not as a guide to follow to success. It must be understood, cautioned in fact, that the endless pursuit of goals and accomplishments will generally not lead to higher levels of well-being and therapeutic states unless one is already of that character; however, it can not be ruled out that this is a valid avenue to explore so caution is in order.
1. Income +/0
2. Economic growth +/0
3. Public health ++
4. Income equality ++
1. Coercion by state - -
2. Liberal democracy ++
3. Interest democracy ++
4. Political unrest - -
1. Small vs. big town – (in US, better to live in small town)
2. Local economic prosperity +
Social Position- Ascribed
1. Gays -/0
2. Immigrants –
3. Blacks -/0
Social Position – Achieved
1. Family income ++ or +
2. Education +/0
3. Public perceived job prestige +
4. Self perceived job prestige +
5. Current global social rank ++/+
1. Having work – chief wage earner ++/-/0
2. Having work – elderly +/0/-
3. Having work – married women +/0
4. Professional ++
5. Clerical +
6. Skilled manual 0
7. Unskilled manual –
8. peasant - -
9. Voluntary work membership +
10. Voluntary work activity +
1. Having spouse ++/+
2. Quality bond ++
3. Happiness of spouse ++
4. Having children –
5. Quality contacts ++
6. Number friends/relatives +
7. Frequency contact friends/relatives +
8. Confidence with friends/relatives ++
1. Physician rated health +/0
2. Self rated health ++
3. Health complaints –
4. Handicaps -/0
5. longevity _
6. Mental impairment - -
7. Positive mental effectiveness ++
8. Mental maturity ++
9. Social ability ++
10. Intelligence 0/+
11. Actual activity ++
12. Appetite for activity ++
1. Belief in fate control +
2. Defense – turning against –
3. defense- projection –
4. defense – repression 0
5. defense – concealment +
6. defense reversal +
7. defense- intellectualization +
8. Aptness to find things pleasant -
9. Time orientation – time expansion +/0
10. Time orientation – temporal emphasis -/0
11. Time orientation – organization +/0
12. Time pressure 0
13. Time orientation - Speed of passage +
1. Activity in leisure ++/+
2. Going to bed late +
3. Laborious living +/0
4. Sober living –
5. Renouncing fun –
1. Want change - -
2. Goals – values/character _
3. Goals – Family +
4. Goals – health +
5. Goals – Society +/0
6. Goals – Work 0
7. Goals – Money –
1. Emphasis on ethical values 0/+
2. Ethical value of sharing with intimates 0/+
3. Religiousness 0/+
4. Denomination 0/+
5. Political conservatism +
6. Sexual conservatism 0/+
7. Moral acceptance of happiness +
Satisfaction/Appreciation of the Following:
1. Intimate ties +++
2. Income +++
3. Oneself +++
4. Leisure ++
5. Work ++
6. Health ++
7. Living environment +
8. Country +
9. Recalled earlier happiness +
Now What Do I Do?
In the purest sense, you don't 'do' anything, you live and grow from the 'mind of reality' which you have when you are in the therapeutic state. In the therapeutic state, in the moment, not consumed with the past or fantasy and possibility, you are faced with what is now, what you are and what the world is. You live it and be it and grow. You perceive reality and grow. That is really the hard part. Normally, we have a plan of possibilities of some school we've never seen and some person we are going to marry whom we haven't met. Then we get there and are totally surprised it's not what we thought. How could it possibly have been? That is starting in the world of fantasy and allowing that world to distort your view of reality. Instead, you would see what is now and what it requires and what growth is, what growth means from that perspective. Again, there is not much I can tell you about that perspective because it is wholly yours and your life and only your experience will tell you.
DF Seldon, MS, NBCC
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