Sunday, December 25, 2022

Evidence-Based Spirituality: Finding Personal Peace


I'd like to call attention to a most interesting and valuable recent book, Mindful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Seth Gillihan, Ph.D.  CBT is a popular framework for addressing psychological issues by teaching techniques for changing our thought and action patterns.  What is unique in the Gillihan text is the use of CBT to enhance mindful awareness and spiritual development.  According to Gillihan, "The practice of listening for the call of our inner voice, or spirit, is what many call mindfulness, and effective therapy is a way of answering that call."  Rather than employ CBT to replace negative thoughts with constructive, positive ones, mindful cognitive-behavioral therapy quiets all that self-talk and replaces it "with thoughts, actions, and mindful awareness that nourish our whole beings".  

In other words, when we still the mind and look inside, the result is in-sight.  Or, in the terms of Radical Renewal, in quieting the ego, we tap into the soul.  Gillihan's insight is that the same methods that help us change our thought patterns can also help us still them.

More broadly, we are witnessing a revolution in psychology.  Spirituality, once the domain of philosophy and religion, is finding evidence-based support in research.  We are finding that spiritual growth furthers our personal growth; that a key to performance psychology can be found in spirituality; that we can train the mind for transcendence.  We're discovering that gratitude changes the brain; that spiritual strengths are also keys to psychological well-being; and that spirituality impacts our well-being through health-related behaviors.  Through spirituality, we find stress reduction and so many other mental health benefits that there have been calls for the mental health professions to embrace insights and practices from religion.

What if all the major approaches to psychological helping can be directed toward our finding personal peace and self-awareness?  Perhaps psychology is just as effective at self-transcendence as self-actualization.  And perhaps performance--in life and in financial markets--is less a function of the ego's "conviction" and more related to the in-sight that comes to minds at peace.

Further Reading: