Sunday, March 30, 2014

Routledge has released the ebook version of "Effortless Mindfulness"

Effortless Mindfulness: Genuine mental health through awakened presence  

A new book by Lisa Dale Miller, LMFT, LPCC, SEP

Deepen your understanding of Buddhist psychology and its clinical applications

Well the book has finally been released in digital form.
And you can get it on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.
Kindle edition available now! 

It seems the hardcover and paperback will take a bit longer, but you can pre-order them now on Amazon

Also the expanded will be available April 15.

Effortless Mindfulness promotes genuine mental health through the direct experience of awakened presence—an effortlessly embodied, fearless understanding of and interaction with the way things truly are. The book offers a uniquely modern Buddhist psychological understanding of mental health disorders through a scholarly, yet clinically useful presentation of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist teachings and practices. Written specifically for Western psychotherapeutic professionals, the book brings together traditional Buddhist theory and contemporary psycho-neuro-bio-social research to describe the conditioned and unconditioned mind. This in-depth exploration of Buddhist psychology includes complete instructions for psychotherapists in authentic yet clinically appropriate Buddhist mindfulness/heartfulness practices and Buddhist psychological inquiry skills. The book also features interviews with an esteemed collection of Buddhist teachers, scholars, meditation researchers and Buddhist-inspired clinicians.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gratitude as medicine for an anxious mind

Recently a new patient who suffers with severe anxiety told me she usually awakens each morning feeling great. But within a few seconds that good feeling triggers a wave of anxious thoughts predicting the loss of the good feeling. I let her know that normally the depressed/anxious people I work with tell me they wake up feeling depressed and anxious. How fortunate she is to awaken feeling great. She experiences her mind in its natural state: alive and joyful. After a moment of shock, she said, “No other therapist has ever said that to me...  You mean my mind is naturally at peace?” I replied, “Yes. The key is to recognize how the mind is and intentionally avert the arising of the anxious mental habit narration you seem to have fallen into whenever you notice feeling good.”

Together we decided what was missing was an intentional gratitude for the good feeling. I asked her to go home and practice each morning, upon awakening, turning her attention to how the body was receiving the experience of feeling good. What sensations or overall qualities were present when she awoke feeling good? Then to intentionally generate gratitude for the experience.  I suggested she also notice her emotional state, it’s quality, and then generate gratitude for that experience; right there, right then, without fixation on its continuation. And when she was ready to get up and start her day.

At her next session she reported, “It worked and I even found myself spontaneously at different times during the day generating gratitude for all kinds of things in my life. Really mundane stuff. I seemed to have less worrying about getting anxious and instead spent more time in what I was doing, how I actually was feeling. A lot of the time I felt sort of neutral actually, but even that was a relief.”

You too can experience the liberation from the tyranny of the narrative mind: that which is the direct expression of our penchant for clinging to the continuation of pleasant experience and aversion to losing unpleasant experience. Gratitude practice for the ordinary is a powerful medicine to avert the suffering we bring upon ourselves in moments when we narrate disaster or impending catastrophe instead of opening to and resting in the joy of actual experience; even when actual experience is not necessarily pleasant. Try it and see for yourself!

I look forward to your comments and experiences.
If you wish to learn more about my work visit:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Identity and Identitylessness: Two new dharma talks!

These two dharma talks were given by Lisa Dale Miller, LMFT, LPCC, SEP at the Marin Sangha on November 10 and 17, 2013.

This first talk covers the difference between self and identity, early Buddhist ideas about “becoming” and “taking birth”, and modern perspectives on personal identity.
Download iTunes Podcast
Download from Lisa's web site

The second talk covers the phenomenology of identitylessness and the gateway to its direct experience: awareness.
Download iTunes Podcast
Download from Lisa's web site


Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Profound Teaching on Embodied Concentration Meditation

If one thinks concentration meditation is all about dropping the body, think again.  I have provided a link to a performance that is a true display of embodied, focused attention in action, done with a level of skill and grace, which makes it a profound dharma teaching. Even watching this performance by Miyoko Shida ends up being a concentration meditation for the viewer. Make sure to watch to the very end. You will be rewarded with a lesson in the true meaning of wise intention and impermanence.

Toward the end, Miyoko's eyes are moist. I assumed it was an expression of  the intense emotion that comes from true embodiment with the things-in-the-world. Recognizing what Heidegger called, "Dasien" and what the Buddhists call Buddhanature; our innate capacity to be in right relationship with everything around us. Feeling into what is balance, what is the true nature all of phenomena shows us how to co-nurture beauty and truth in a world so lost in its suffering.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

NIMH rejects DSM-V criteria for its research

I just edited the following line in my manuscript, "The DSM-IV and V exemplify a symptom/diagnosis/medication-based view, which blatantly disregards the neurobiological, somatic, environmental and genetic causes of afflictive mind states. Its hyper-focus on categorization does little to help patients (and clinicians!) recognize why distressful mind states manifest and how to ameliorate them." And then logged onto Facebook to see the amazing development that the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) has announced it will move away from preferencing research that uses DSM categories.

Two-weeks before the official release of the DSM-V, the manual every clinician must use to delineate diagnostic criteria for insurance reimbursement (few of us use it for anything else!), NIMH Director Thomas Insel says the DSM lacks validity and that “patients with mental disorders deserve better”. He continues,  "Going forward, we will be supporting research projects that look across current categories – or sub-divide current categories – to begin to develop a better system. What does this mean for applicants? Clinical trials might study all patients in a mood clinic rather than those meeting strict major depressive disorder criteria. Studies of biomarkers for “depression” might begin by looking across many disorders with anhedonia or emotional appraisal bias or psychomotor retardation to understand the circuitry underlying these symptoms. What does this mean for patients? We are committed to new and better treatments, but we feel this will only happen by developing a more precise diagnostic system."

Insel's alternative is a Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, which focuses on the ‘component parts’ of psychological dysregulation by understanding difficulties in terms of cognitive, neural and genetic differences. I could not be more pleased and proud of the governmental organization that funds so much of America's premier mental health research.