Finding my Current Obsession

I have been working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) now for almost one year. In that year I have worked on developing an educational program, a seven week workshop series that includes physical postures, breathing exercises, guided meditation and mindfulness exercises. The focus of the workshop is on building skills and accessing tools that encourage a healthy lifestyle and lead to better management of mental health.

The first series took place fall of 2010. I have been using this spring to evaluate how the first series went and what changes we might want to make to the program. One very evident change that needs to be made is to dedicate more time to meditation. Meditation was one of the smaller sections of the 2010 series, but after getting participant feedback, it was obvious that it was one of the most powerful tools taught.  One NAMI-consumer and 2010 NAMI~Yoga graduate said, “I was amazed at how helpful just learning to breath deeper and slower could be.  Over the course I began to recognize my physical reactions to stress before I felt the emotions.  All the lessons we learned gave me a feeling of control.”

Exit surveys filled out by students had one common thread. Everyone wanted to know more about meditation and understand why it had such a powerful effect on their level of happiness.  Even for a yoga teacher and mediator, I felt unable to answer my students’ questions.  I decided to revamp the NAMI-Yoga workshop curriculum to include more meditation and dig into the research to try and find the answers to my students’ questions.  These questions led me to my current obsession, the science of meditation.  I wanted to address the question: can meditation significantly improve mental health for those with a diagnosed mental illness?

Over the next month I will be sharing snip-its of what I have been learning.  In the meantime I would love to hear more about what you know?

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi,

    I am a psychologist and meditation teacher who used to work at NAMI. While most of the research out there focuses on the positive benefits of meditation, there is ongoing research into some negative effects of meditation, and everyone who uses meditation in a mental health context should be made aware them. This link is to a video of a researcher at Brown University giving a talk on the negative effects of contemplative practice. Please check it out:

    http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/research-on-negative-effects-of-meditation/

    • Thank you so much for your information. I will be watching the video and following your blog. I look forward to any further suggestions.


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