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No matter how sweet the chanting -fact check
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 29, 2015 01:33AM

No matter how much you love and trust a friend or partner who has
benefitted from a guru or yoga group, please fact check before you get involved.


Your friend may have no idea what is being done behind the scenes.

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50 Myths of Popular Psychology
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 12, 2015 09:10AM

Fifty Great Myths of Popular Psychology


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Fasting, sleep deprivation hinder critical thinking
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 21, 2015 08:38AM

This person spent time in an Eastern Orthodox monastery.



From: (Anonymous)
2009-11-03 01:40 am (UTC)

Re: My experience was much more depressing! :)

I usually paint a rosy picture of the monastery.

I chalk up the negative parts to experience, and blame myself for not being more careful, for trusting too easily. But I hope you don't take this and run with it.

Please don't underestimate the effects of deprivation of both food and sleep. They can really put one into state where it is extremely hard to make decisions and see clearly. I was in that kind of state most of the time. Why? because that was what I thought I needed to do to. That was the ascetic model that was held out to me everyday in the readings at trapeza, in the hymnody of the church....

I voluntarily brainwashed myself and opened up my heart in a very vulnerable way.

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"The Deliberate Creation of Ignorance"
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 09, 2016 01:28AM

Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions: Standards and Cases

Pagse 111 -112


Erhard Seminars Training

Walter Harris Erhard, the developer of est (Latin for "it is") was born John Russell Rosenberg and became a skilled salesman with no professional training s a psychologist. His program evolved to become the "Forum" seminars (Efran, Lukens & Lukens, 1986); Finkelstein, Wengrat & Yalom, 1982);Wistow, 1986) and exists currently as the Landmark Education or the Forum, a genre of so-called large group awareness programs sold to some of his employees in the 1990s. The basic approach is focused on challenging participants' sense of psychological identity, or, as one commentator noted, systemtatic escalation and discounting of each participant's "adapted child" eventually forcing the participant into their "free-child state" thereby releasing a large amount of "bound energy".
(Klein, 1983 p. 178). Other articles have described est as "brainwashing" (C.B. Moss & Hosford, 1983), and there was a report that a patient suffered a psychotic episode following his participation in an est program (Higgett & Murray, 1983)

"One of the few careful attempts to study Erhard's techniques in a rigorous fashion showed no long term treatment effects and concluded that claims of far-reaching effects for programs of the Forum were exaggerated (Fisher et. al. 1989)

"Many of Erhard's personal foibles were also revealed around the time he sold what had become a thriving business (Gelman, Abramson & Leonard, 1991) and
embarrassments followed his successors (Ross, 2005).

"The ability of skilled salespeople such as Werner Erhard to promote and morph their programs to unquestioning consumers in the face of criticism by behavioral scientists is impressive. The central message from an ethical perspective is for therapists to have a sound scientific foundation for their psychotherapeutic work.

"Proof of efficacy should precede mass marketing of new techniques to the public or to colleagues."

Additional discussion is here on pages 111 to 112 and beyond.


"The ability of skilled salespeople such as Werner Erhard to promote and morph their programs to unquestioning consumers in the face of criticism by behavioral scientists is impressive."

Let us examine how this promotion has been accomplished and maintained.

* Use of fired up participants as "agents of deployment" -- sending them out to make rapturous telephone calls to family members and friends, importunement of family and friends to attend orientation meetings.

* Sending excited participants to react to any adverse criticism of the product by publishing testimonials.

* If there is long term and embarrassing discussion of the product, sending in
more skillful apologists who profess to have been skeptical, who grudgingly admit some have had bad experiences, then to insinuate that this oh so special and powerful product is "not for everyone". This sting in the tail apologism makes it seem that only strong and courageous persons will benefit and that anyone who feels harmed is weak or ill -- inferior. (aka Victim Bashing).

** Last resort: lawsuits against those who publicly criticize the product and who (worst of all) create public spaces for sustained discussion of product flaws.

Landmark Education suffers humiliating legal defeat in New Jersey Federal Court


Litigation Archive


Church of Scientology Slapp Lawsuits


Gentle Wind Project - Lawsuits


"Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’"

Corboy: This article describes methods of social persuasion that are used
to trick us into forgetting or distrusting information about hazards. The kind of information that thwarts predators and serves our best interests.

The Man who Studies the Spread of Ignorance


What is written here about the tactics used by Big Tobacco applies to
methods utilized by cult recruiters and other exploitation specialists.


In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

On the street this "establishment of controversy" is called "shit disturbing".

Let us examine this pungent metaphor - shit disturbing.

A fresh turd stinks.

But after some time, the turd ceases to be quite so smelly.
The surface has dried out, sealing in the skotole molecules. However, the interior of our metaphorical turd remains moist.

So...if someone or something disturbs that shit Sopile and breaks the crust -- it stinks again.

So, this cyber trolls do. This is what Big Tobacco, described above, does.


“I was exploring how powerful industries could promote ignorance to sell their wares. Ignorance is power… and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance.

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

"In looking into agnotology, I discovered the secret world of classified science, and thought historians should be giving this more attention.”

The 1969 memo and the tactics used by the tobacco industry became the perfect example of agnotology, Proctor says. “Ignorance is not just the not-yet-known, it’s also a political ploy, a deliberate creation by powerful agents who want you ‘not to know’.”

To help him in his search, Proctor enlisted the help of UC Berkeley linguist Iain Boal, and together they came up with the term – the neologism was coined in 1995, although much of Proctor’s analysis of the phenomenon had occurred in the previous decades.


Proctor explains that ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion. This was behind how tobacco firms used science to make their products look harmless, and is used today by climate change deniers to argue against the scientific evidence.

This ‘balance routine’ has allowed the cigarette men, or climate deniers today, to claim that there are two sides to every story, that ‘experts disagree’ – creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance.”


Making up our own minds

Another academic studying ignorance is David Dunning, from Cornell University. Dunning warns that the internet is helping propagate ignorance – it is a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert, he says, which makes them prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.


Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups – like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2016 12:05AM by corboy.

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Tactical Use of Ambiguity
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 10, 2016 12:01AM

Doubt peddlers are not interested in health or truthfulness. They want only victory.

And they do not care what burden is imposed on others so long as they
win and can feed their own egos and fatten their own bank accounts.

The Anticult, who has made many informative posts on this message board, wrote
an essay that describes this strategic creation of confusion and doubt.

Here is an excerpt from one of Anticult's essays - one that fits in with Professors Proctor and Dunning's research on agnatology.

The Anticult calls this "Ambiguitology".

I have inserted hyperlinks into Anticult's text to assist readers in doing
further self education.



LGAT = Large Group Awareness Training

I make the argument there are a growing number of LGAT-cult
Ambiguityologists! They take the approach of appearing mildly critical, and a bit ambiguous and confused about the LGAT.

If I ran a big LGAT, I would get a few followers to go out there covertly pretending to be a 3rd party, and criticize the LGAT and create some Confusion about it.

Corboy: This is called "muddying the waters"

" Then in that confusion implant suggestions how POWERFUL the material is, so its NOT for everyone, just "special" people who can handle it.
(In hypnosis and sales that is called Encouraging Resistance and Disarming Objections).

They encourage the Resistance up front, like a type of Judo. I would get some folks out there to set themselves up with blogs and websites that were Anti-Guru's and Against Guru BS, etc.

Then get them to soft-sell the LGAT through the backdoor. (of course, most of them Believe in their group anyway).

So my view is there are a lot of these covert "middle-ground" people out there now, and its growing fast. They hammer hard on their enemies cults, and hammer a bit on their own too, but only to Disarm Objections.
They are not Cult Apologists overtly.
They are Covert.

That way, their overt sales approach works, and they also have a back-door and side-door for referrals as well. The big cults ALL use Front-Groups. They ALL use fake Front-People, that has been going on for decades.

But I think the middle-approach is growing, as its so effective.

Landmark uses that all the time. Approach a seasoned Landmark promoter, and tell him you think Landmark is a dangerous cult. He most likely will...
"agree that its dangerous...yes...very dangerous...not for everyone, I agree.

Only a few can handle that kind of power...not everyone should be given advanced Landmark..."(etc...that was a BS salespitch, which starts from ambiguous criticism).

Once you find more than a few LIES LIES LIES in these groups, then they are FINISHED.

You can't pussy-foot around or be mealy-mouthed.

Sometimes you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as the bathwater is toxic, and the baby is the Damien child of the devil.

One argument by confusionologists:

"The Marine Corps uses cult tactics, too!"

How the US Marine Corps differs from a Large Group Awareness Training.


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Indian coin/holy ash/vibhuti trick
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 23, 2016 02:23AM

How to produce 'holy ash' aka 'vibhuti.

Satya Sai Baba became famous for this stunt.

One hears of pictures of gurus producing 'holy ash'.

All that is needed is to put a bit of chemical such as this into the picture,
in contact with a bit of aluminum.

Prolonged exposure to oxygen in the air will, over time, generate 'holy ash' from the picture.

Better living through chemistry.



"a.... cheap trick he once tried to play on me. When Ramapriya Das was away on an errand or so, I saw Lakshman Das rummaging in his bag, furtively glancing at me, surreptitiously arranging things there. Then he gave me an aluminum coin and told me to close my hand tightly around it. I knew what was going to happen, an Indian astrologer had tried to fool me like this before. He’d said that if I spoke a mantra (he’d just given me) over my closed fist, the coin would ‘by the power of the mantra’ produce ashes (which, of course, would be ‘sacred’). And indeed, the coin became hot and when I opened my hand, there was some blue-grey ash. I didn’t know how he did it, but this ‘miracle’ was obviously the result of oxidation.

So I told guru-ji, “I know this trick.” He laughed, a bit embarrassed. Wanting to cover up his attempted deception, he explained how it worked. A substance he called ‘white stone’, when mixed with water and rubbed on the coin, would oxidize the aluminum.

Same trick used to flatter a new recruit.

"Great Kali Power!"


Yesterday, she told me, she'd had an amazing experience with Lakshman Das. A miracle!

He'd given her a 10-paisa coin, which he had first wetted, and which she had to hold in her hand. Then she had to repeat mantras over it, concentrating on her hand and the coin had become almost unbearably hot, had dissolved into ash, had almost burned a hole in her hand, but there was no scar. Lakshman Das had said that she "possessed great Kali-power!" She was very happy about the experience, about her Kali-power.

I hesitated. Should I take away that happiness? Erase the darkness of superstition (but comforting belief and illusion) with the cold light of reason?

But then I told her. How Lakshman Das had tried the same trick on me. And I explained the mechanics: the chemical that together with the water causes the aluminum coin to oxidize rapidly; the heat caused by the oxidation; the grey-white aliminum-oxide powder. At first she refused to believe me, because yesterday she had told the story to Sukhdev Das, and he had supported the "Kali-power" explanation. So I told her again, ending with, "why would I lie to you? Let's confront them with the facts."

We had been talking in low voices, but Lakshman Das and Sukhdev Das seated on their platform on the other side of the dhuni had no doubt realised what we were talking about, and Lakshman Das, knowing he was being exposed as a cheat and a liar, was giving me dirty looks.

Kali-ma, a bit indignant, then asked Lakshman Das, "Well, how about it, did you put something on that coin?"

He still tried to deny it, but then I said to him that he himself had told me in Ujjain what kind of substance he had rubbed on the coin. But he said that he couldn't remember what he had told me. A pretty lame excuse. Sukhdev Das tried to support him by remarking that the actual facts didn't matter so much, but that we should realize how much "joy" the event had caused her.
But Kali-ma and I, almost simultaneously and in unison, said, "we're here to find the truth!"

And then Lakshman Das gave in, a bit anyway, and said it was "magic" and in a still softer voice, "a trick."

It diminished him, and by implication Sukhdev Das too.




My observations at the last Kumbha Melas (Haridwar 1998, Allahabad 2001) have reinforced my opinion that purity of sadhana and "spirituality" (perhaps some more categories), are in accelerating decline. One important factor here is the gradual disappearance of the old generation of sadhus. These are replaced by young Mahants and Shri Mahants, more interested in temporal than "spiritual" power.

So far the number of sadhus seems to remain steady. Even their prosperity seems to be increasing; perhaps the result of support from the growing middle class in India. Perhaps also because nowadays quite a few turn to a new clientele: the foreigners.

But this kind of modernization also involves, on the part of sadhus, a seduction by western gadgets and statussymbols (car, motorcyle, tv, radio, cassetteplayer, watch, etc.), exposure to gullible western tourists of the occult (easily intimidated into donating large sums of money) and temptation by its female contingent (no social control, sexually liberated, easily intimidated). This may lead to a weakening or even disappearing of the limits imposed by a proper sadhana, which in turn leads to loss of respect, and loss of power (in a "spiritual", not materialistic, sense). In another way, however, part of this (the use of mobile phones, email, and websites by sadhus nowadays) can only be seen as a pragmatic adaptation to the 21st century.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/23/2016 02:34AM by corboy.

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Emerging research on trance induction
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 24, 2016 08:17AM


Along the way, the researchers have edged closer to understanding what causes the hypnotic state in the first place. It seems that hypnotic induction turns something like a dimmer switch in the brain’s frontal lobes. These regions are thought to generate “higher-order thoughts” – reflective awareness of your own wants and needs and motives. Take that away, it seems, and you begin to do and feel things without realising why. That might explain why students tanked up on alcoholic drinks – the equivalent to two pints of beer – score much higher on the standard hypnotisability tests; alcohol is known to dampen frontal lobe activity, says Zoltan Dienes at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK.

In earlier discussions on this message board, we learned that confusing people by using grammatical violations and information overload disrupt reflective awareness and increase vulnerability to trance induction.

Sleep deprivation can have effects similar to alcohol use. Combine sleep deprivation with the sensory bombardment, peer pressure and stress characteristic of Large Group Awareness Trainings, and the effect will be even greater.

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Re: Recovering from New Age Mumbo Jumbo
Date: January 31, 2016 03:17PM


Is mindfulness making us ill?

It’s the relaxation technique of choice, popular with employers and even the NHS. But some have found it can have unexpected effects

Dawn Foster
Saturday 23 January 2016 10.00 GMT

I am sitting in a circle in a grey, corporate room with 10 housing association employees – administrators, security guards, cleaners – eyes darting about nervously. We are asked to eat a sandwich in silence. To think about every taste and texture, every chewing motion and bite. Far from being relaxed, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable and begin to wonder if my jaw is malfunctioning. I’m here to write about a new mindfulness initiative, and since I’ve never to my knowledge had any mental health issues and usually thrive under stress, I anticipate a straightforward, if awkward, experience.

Then comes the meditation. We’re told to close our eyes and think about our bodies in relation to the chair, the floor, the room: how each limb touches the arms, the back, the legs of the seat, while breathing slowly. But there’s one small catch: I can’t breathe. No matter how fast, slow, deep or shallow my breaths are, it feels as though my lungs are sealed. My instincts tell me to run, but I can’t move my arms or legs. I feel a rising panic and worry that I might pass out, my mind racing. Then we’re told to open our eyes and the feeling dissipates. I look around. No one else appears to have felt they were facing imminent death. What just happened?

For days afterwards, I feel on edge. I have a permanent tension headache and I jump at the slightest unexpected noise. The fact that something seemingly benign, positive and hugely popular had such a profound effect has taken me by surprise.

Mindfulness, the practice of sitting still and focusing on your breath and thoughts, has surged in popularity over the last few years, with a boom in apps, online courses, books and articles extolling its virtues. It can be done alone or with a guide (digital or human), and with so much hand-wringing about our frenetic, time-poor lifestyles and information overload, it seems to offer a wholesome solution: a quiet port in the storm and an opportunity for self-examination. The Headspace app, which offers 10-minute guided meditations on your smartphone, has more than three million users worldwide and is worth over £25m. Meanwhile, publishers have rushed to put out workbooks and guides to line the wellness shelves in bookshops.

After meditation I would do things that were out of character, acting erratically. I had panic attacks

Large organisations such as Google, Apple, Sony, Ikea, the Department of Health and Transport for London have adopted mindfulness or meditation as part of their employee packages, claiming it leads to a happier workforce, increased productivity and fewer sick days. But could such a one-size-fits-all solution backfire in unexpected ways?

Even a year later, recalling the sensations and feelings I experienced in that room summons a resurgent wave of panic and tightness in my chest. Out of curiosity, I try the Headspace app, but the breathing exercises leave me with pins and needles in my face and a burgeoning terror. “Let your thoughts move wherever they please,” the app urges. I just want it to stop. And, as I discovered, I’m not the only person who doesn’t find mindfulness comforting.

Claire, a 37-year-old in a highly competitive industry, was sent on a three-day mindfulness course with colleagues as part of a training programme. “Initially, I found it relaxing,” she says, “but then I found I felt completely zoned out while doing it. Within two or three hours of later sessions, I was starting to really, really panic.” The sessions resurfaced memories of her traumatic childhood, and she experienced a series of panic attacks. “Somehow, the course triggered things I had previously got over,” Claire says. “I had a breakdown and spent three months in a psychiatric unit. It was a depressive breakdown with psychotic elements related to the trauma, and several dissociative episodes.”

Four and a half years later, Claire is still working part-time and is in and out of hospital. She became addicted to alcohol, when previously she was driven and high-performing, and believes mindfulness was the catalyst for her breakdown. Her doctors have advised her to avoid relaxation methods, and she spent months in one-to-one therapy. “Recovery involves being completely grounded,” she says, “so yoga is out.”

Research suggests her experience might not be unique. Internet forums abound with people seeking advice after experiencing panic attacks, hearing voices or finding that meditation has deepened their depression after some initial respite. In their recent book, The Buddha Pill, psychologists Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm voice concern about the lack of research into the adverse effects of meditation and the “dark side” of mindfulness. “Since the book’s been published, we’ve had a number of emails from people wanting to tell us about adverse effects they have experienced,” Wikholm says. “Often, people have thought they were alone with this, or they blamed themselves, thinking they somehow did it wrong, when actually it doesn’t seem it’s all that uncommon.”

People don't talk about the risk of injury. You need a good trainer
One story in particular prompted Farias to look further into adverse effects. Louise, a woman in her 50s who had been practising yoga for 20 years, went away to a meditation retreat. While meditating, she felt dissociated from herself and became worried. Dismissing it as a routine side-effect of meditation, Louise continued with the exercises. The following day, after returning home, her body felt completely numb and she didn’t want to get out of bed. Her husband took her to the doctor, who referred her to a psychiatrist. For the next 15 years she was treated for psychotic depression.

Farias looked at the research into unexpected side-effects. A 1992 study by David Shapiro, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, found that 63% of the group studied, who had varying degrees of experience in meditation and had each tried mindfulness, had suffered at least one negative effect from meditation retreats, while 7% reported profoundly adverse effects including panic, depression, pain and anxiety. Shapiro’s study was small-scale; several research papers, including a 2011 study by Duke University in North Carolina, have raised concerns at the lack of quality research on the impact of mindfulness, specifically the lack of controlled studies.

Farias feels that media coverage inflates the moderate positive effects of mindfulness, and either doesn’t report or underplays the downsides. “Mindfulness can have negative effects for some people, even if you’re doing it for only 20 minutes a day,” Farias says. “It’s difficult to tell how common [negative] experiences are, because mindfulness researchers have failed to measure them, and may even have discouraged participants from reporting them by attributing the blame to them.”

Kate Williams, a PhD researcher in psychiatry at the University of Manchester and a mindfulness teacher, says negative experiences generally fall into one of two categories. The first is seen as a natural emotional reaction to self-exploration. “What we learn through meditation is to explore our experiences with an open and nonjudgmental attitude, whether the experience that arises is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral,” she says.

The second, Williams says, is more severe and disconcerting: “Experiences can be quite extreme, to the extent of inducing paranoia, delusions, confusion, mania or depression.” After years of training, research and practice, her own personal meditation has included some of these negative experiences. “Longer periods of meditation have at times led me to feel a loss of identity and left me feeling extremely vulnerable, almost like an open wound,” Williams says. As an experienced mindfulness teacher, however, she says she is able to deal with these negative experiences without lasting effect.

Rachel, a 34-year-old film-maker from London, experimented with mindfulness several years ago. An old school friend who had tried it attempted to warn her off. “He said, ‘It’s hardcore – you’ll go through things you don’t want to go through and it might not always be positive.’ I suppose sitting with yourself is hard, especially when you’re in a place where you don’t really like yourself. Meditation can’t ‘fix’ anyone. That’s not what it’s for.”

After a few months of following guided meditations, and feeling increasingly anxious, Rachel had what she describes as a “meltdown” immediately after practising some of the techniques she’d learned; the relationship she was in broke down. “That’s the horrible hangover I have from this: instead of having a sense of calm, I overanalyse and scrutinise everything. Things would run round in my mind, and suddenly I’d be doing things that were totally out of character, acting very, very erratically. Having panic attacks that would restrict my breathing and, once, sent me into a blackout seizure on the studio floor that involved an ambulance trip to accident and emergency.” Rachel has recovered to some extent; she experiences similar feelings on a lower level even today, but has learned to recognise the symptoms and take steps to combat them.

So are employers and experts right to extol the virtues of mindfulness? According to Will Davies, senior lecturer at Goldsmiths and author of The Happiness Industry, our mental health has become a money-making opportunity. “The measurement of our mental and emotional states at work is advancing rapidly at the moment,” he says, “and businesses are increasingly aware of the financial costs that stress, depression and anxiety saddle them with.”

Rather than removing the source of stress, whether that’s unfeasible workloads, poor management or low morale, some employers encourage their staff to meditate: a quick fix that’s much cheaper, at least in the short term. After all, it’s harder to complain that you’re under too much stress at work if your employer points out that they’ve offered you relaxation classes: the blame then falls on the individual. “Mindfulness has been grabbed in recent years as a way to help people cope with their own powerlessness in the workplace,” Davies says. “We’re now reaching the stage where mandatory meditation is being discussed as a route to heightened productivity, in tandem with various apps, wearable devices and forms of low-level employee surveillance.”

One former Labour backbencher, Chris Ruane, recently proposed meditation for civil servants, on the basis that it would cut Whitehall costs by lowering sick leave through stress, rather than making the workplace and jobs less stressful in the first place. “The whole agenda is so fraught with contradictions, between its economic goals and its supposedly spiritual methods,” Davies argues. “It’s a wonder anyone takes it seriously at all.”

Mindfulness has also been adopted by the NHS, with many primary care trusts offering and recommending the practice in lieu of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). “It fits nicely with the Nutribullet-chugging, clean-eating crowd, because it doesn’t involve any tablets,” says Bethan, a mental health nurse working in east London. “My main problem with it is that it’s just another word for awareness.”

My main problem with mindfulness is that it’s just another word for awareness
Over the past few years, Bethan has noticed mindfulness mentioned or recommended increasingly at work, and says many colleagues have been offered sessions and training as part of their professional development. But the move towards mindfulness delivered through online or self-help programmes isn’t for everyone. “It’s fine, but realising you have depression isn’t the same as tackling it,” she says. “I don’t see it as any different from the five-a-day campaign: we know what we should be eating, but so many of us don’t do it. We know that isolating ourselves isn’t helpful when we feel blue, but we still do that.”

Part of the drive is simple cost-cutting. With NHS budgets squeezed, resource-intensive and diverse therapies that involve one-on-one consultations are far more expensive to dispense than online or group therapies such as mindfulness. A CBT course costs the NHS £950 per participant on average, while mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, because it’s delivered in a group, comes in at around £300 a person. “It’s cheap, and it does make people think twice about their choices, so in some respects it’s helpful,” Bethan says.

But in more serious cases, could it be doing more harm than good? Florian Ruths has researched this area for 10 years, as clinical lead for mindfulness-based therapy in the South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust. He believes it is possible to teach yourself mindfulness through apps, books or online guides. “For most people, I think if you’re not suffering from any clinical issues, or illness, or from stress to a degree that you’re somewhat disabled, it’s fine,” he says. “We talk about illness as disability, and disability may arise through sadness, it may arise through emotional disturbance, like anxiety. Then, obviously, it becomes a different ballgame, and it would be good to have a guided practice to take you through it.” This runs counter to the drive towards online mindfulness apps, delivered without supervision, and with little to no adaptation to individual needs or problems.

But for Ruths, the benefits outweigh the risk of unusual effects. “If we exercise, we live longer, we’re slimmer, we’ve got less risk of dementia, we’re happier and less anxious,” he says. “People don’t talk about the fact that when you exercise, you are at a natural risk of injuring yourself. When people say in the new year, ‘I’m going to go to the gym’ – out of 100 people who do that, about 20 will injure themselves, because they haven’t been taught how to do it properly, or they’ve not listened to their bodies. So when you’re a responsible clinician or GP, you tell someone to get a good trainer.”

People may not know they have a bipolar vulnerability until they try mindfulness
Certain mental health problems increase the risk of adverse effects from mindfulness. “If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a certain chance that you may find meditation too difficult to do, as you may be re-experiencing traumatic memories,” Ruths says. “Once again, it’s about having experienced trainers to facilitate that. We’ve seen some evidence that people who’ve got bipolar vulnerability may struggle, but we need to keep in mind that it may be accidental, or it may be something we don’t know about yet.”

Of course, people may not know they have a bipolar vulnerability until they try mindfulness. Or they might have repressed the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, only for these to emerge after trying the practice.

How can an individual gauge whether they’re likely to have negative side-effects? Both Farias and Ruths agree there isn’t a substantial body of evidence yet on how mindfulness works, or what causes negative reactions. One of the reasons is obvious: people who react badly tend to drop out of classes, or stop using the app or workbook; rather than make a fuss, they quietly walk away. Part of this is down to the current faddishness of mindfulness and the way it’s marketed: unlike prescribed psychotherapy or CBT, it’s viewed as an alternative lifestyle choice, rather than a powerful form of therapy.

Claire is clear about how she feels mindfulness should be discussed and delivered: “A lot of the people who are trained in mindfulness are not trained in the dangers as well as the potential benefits,” she says. “My experience of people who teach it is that they don’t know how to help people if it goes too far.”

There is currently no professionally accredited training for mindfulness teachers, and nothing to stop anyone calling themselves a mindfulness coach, though advocates are calling for that to change. Finding an experienced teacher who comes recommended, and not being afraid to discuss negative side-effects with your teacher or GP, means you’re far more likely to enjoy and benefit from the experience.

As both Claire and I have found, there are alternative relaxation methods that can keep you grounded: reading, carving out more time to spend with friends, and simply knowing when to take a break from the frenetic pace of life. Meanwhile, Claire’s experience has encouraged her to push for a better understanding of alternative therapies. “No one would suggest CBT was done by someone who wasn’t trained,” she says. “I’d like to see a wider discussion about what mindfulness is – and on what the side-effects can be.”

Some names have been changed.

• Dawn Foster’s new book, Lean Out, is published by Watkins.


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We so hunger to be understood and beheld
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: June 23, 2016 03:23AM

We hunger to be understood other word for it -- we hunger for someone
to behold us.

Especially when we are shattered.

The deepest yearning is to be understood without our verbally communicating;
it is what all mammals long for as infants.

This is the appeal of those who appear to read our minds for us.

But it is not magic and it isnt proof that a person with such skills is
even trustworthy.

Cold reading is a skill set, just as driving an automoblie is a skill set.



When people approach me about what some have incorrectly termed my “conversion” to critical thinking and science, they seem to be looking for some evidence of a crisis of faith. But it was never a crisis of faith; it was always a crisis of conscience. As a healer, I specialized in working with survivors of severe dissociative trauma, and I knocked myself out trying to help these already-injured people feel safe, cared-for, and protected.

Therefore, I was always studying different modalities and healing approaches, and learning about the many questionable (and oftentimes troubling) alternative healing practices that were being offered to trauma survivors.

And here we arrive at the crux of the matter, and the central reason I left the New Age behind: With its time-honored “no-judgment” rule firmly in place, there is simply no formal way to test, question, or bring full critical faculties to what is offered in the New Age. And that’s not okay.

I became a healer because I wanted to help, and because I didn’t want to see people suffer. But I saw plenty of suffering in the New Age as people chased after the magical promises that come so fast, and so continuously. And because there is no formal mechanism for questioning or for consumer protection in the New Age, no one was ever held accountable when things failed to work … and I got really tired of watching it happen over and over and over again.

I also got tired of hearing these failures referred to as “valuable learning experiences.” I was working with people who had been traumatized and who were sometimes struggling through a kind of waking nightmare, and everywhere they turned, magical promises were being lobbed at them. They were wasting time, energy, and money on empty promises. That’s a hell of a lot of learning experiences.

As I searched for responsible information about all of the endless healing modalities, gurus, cures, diets, tinctures, meditation techniques, workshops, and herbs, I found a surprising thing. Because there is no mechanism for consumer protection in the New Age, an entire subculture arose to do it for us. I discovered the work of the skeptical community, and though I was put off by a great deal of the tone and behavior I found there, I’ve done enough shadow work (see my posts on the shadow here, here, and here) to know that what enrages and offends you is often the thing you most need to understand.

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That key to heaven look - described a century ago
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: June 29, 2016 12:34AM



R.K. Chesterton's biographer:

"Perhaps it was not so much Theosophy Chesterton disliked as (those) theosophists who were elitists who had no interest in a common man like the peasant:


"They had shiny pebbly eyes and patient smiles. Their patients mostly consisted
of waiting for others to rise to thes spiritual plane where they themselves
already stood...They never seemed to hope that they might evolve and reach the plane where their honest green-grocer already stood. They never wanted to hitch their own lumbering wagon to a soaring cabman; or see the soul of their charwoman like a star beckon to the spheres where the immortals are.'

(Corboy note: how many of those who commune at the 6th and 7th planes report
valuable insights from deceased members of the working classes, eh? Or from people who once lived as child workers or prostitutes then died or were killed at a young age? )

*charwoman -- maid

*greengrocer -- guy who sells vegetables and fruits

*cabman -- taxi driver/Uber or Lyft person scrabbling to get by on the gig economy.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/14/2016 10:18AM by corboy.

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