Kelly G. Wilson's blog

Having Fun with Your Mind

OK, just in case anyone has the illusion that I don't give homework, let me offer some to the 1200 or so folks on the list. Here is a little homework assignment. Do you want to see how minds work? Or, would you like a chance for a little "pay back" for all the stuff your mind has done to you? Here is an opportunity to tease your mind. Woo hoo! Good fun! This is a sample from my forthcoming book from New Harbinger--Mindfulness for Two. Some of you who have consulted with me individually or have been to workshops in recent years will recognize the flavor of the exercise.

Is ACT merely rehashed Buddhism?

I posted this on 2/25/06 to in response to responses to an artilce interviewing Steve Hayes:

Of course, one can say that these are Buddhist sensibilities and be correct. But are they merely Buddhist sensibilities? All of the authors of the original ACT book grew up in the ‘60’s—Steve, Kirk Strosahl, and I. So, sure, we all read a Zen book or two. Speaking for myself though (maybe others can relate), we were pretty busy running in the opposite direction of our parents—religion, politics, property, the war, fashion (rejecting fashion was so fashionable), and on. Reading Zen stuff made my parents nervous. I loved making my parents nervous. Ah….the wild excesses of youth. Lots of it was rejection of authority, but it was not mere rejection of authority. Some of those sensibilities we rumbled around in had more to them—cultivating a sense of wonder at the world, heartfelt questioning of the status quo, the crazy notion that we needed to look after the planet and one another.

So is this ripped off Buddhism? Well, it’s a free country. People can believe what they want (and post it). But if anyone reads out beyond a magazine article they would find books, articles, and chapters where this and many other connections are made explicitly. But even at that, does anyone suppose that the Buddha was the first person who said “life is suffering.” If one digs a bit into any of the great religious traditions, they will find precisely these notions. The western tradition is often maligned in this regard. But in fact, if one digs back into the Judeo Christian tradition, they will find a mystical contemplative wing—never large, but ever present.

It is my hope that we have something more to offer by aiming science at these concerns. Mindfulness is all the rage in empirical clinical psychology right now. However, I have said in my out loud voice at many conferences that if all we have to offer clients is mindfulness training, we are ripping them off. They can get mindfulness training from folks in a number of traditions that have thousands of years of experience teaching it. What we need to offer is a science of those sensibilities. Although western science is likewise often maligned (and often with good reason) it has given us a lot. My kids would be orphans right now if it were not for medical science. I am eternally grateful to the kind oncology folks who cared for me in Reno back in ’98. My kids have had 7 more Christmases with their dad because of medical science. What if we could produce a psychological science that could deliver the psychological equivalent of that outcome?

It is my hope that we can produce a science that helps folks to live more mindful and meaningful lives. It is my hope that we can build a progressive basic and applied science that addresses these sensibilities. It is my hope that I can be part of an influence on psychology and on healthcare more generally that gets us off the feel good agenda, and onto the living well agenda. That is what the ACT work is about—seems to me a worthy way to invest my time and life.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one. (P.S. not original ;-))


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Eric this new website is entirely cool. I love it. You are a super genius!

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