Presence Therapy — Using spiritual practices for psychological healing

Presence Therapy includes a powerful concentration meditation with the capacity to induce a state of no-thought and of seven principles that, when practiced, serve to support and maintain a high degree of focused attention into the present moment.

by James Westly — 

Presence Therapy is a new direction in psychotherapy that utilizes spiritual practices. The approach facilitates a fundamental shift in consciousness from the mind’s past/future orientation to focusing its attention entirely on the present moment.

Most of us believe our minds to be the source of our identity. However, many spiritual practices view the mind as an obstacle to direct connection with a larger reality. Can you answer this riddle? What do drug addicts, skydivers and Buddhist monks have in common? They are all trying to get out of their minds.

Each is simply using a different approach to accomplish the same thing — in-the-moment presence through eradication of thought. Addicts use chemical substances to expand or escape their minds. Skydivers use an intense physical experience to do the same thing. Buddhist monks engage in practices intended to transcend thinking.

When we invest mental process with identity, we empower a potent tool with the capacity to torment us and create psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety and panic attacks. If we understand the mind to be something we have, as opposed to who we are, we can learn to master the tool and eradicate emotional problems.

The key is focusing our attention. Ask yourself this question: “What percentage of my attention, from zero to 100, is here/now?” What is the first number that pops into your awareness? If the number is less than 100, your consciousness is fragmented, thinking about yesterday and/or worried about tomorrow.

Most people’s answers hover around the 50 percent mark, meaning that 50 percent of their attention is unavailable for dealing with life in the one place and time that it is actually happening, the here and now. This gives new meaning to the phase “not playing with a full deck.”

The mind is a powerful tool, but it is not the source of consciousness. Making a conceptual distinction between mind and consciousness — understanding the mind to be a bodily process — paves the way for the healing of mental and emotional dysfunctions. Presence Therapy enables its practitioners to learn new skills that facilitate the development of greater degrees of presence and mastery of the mind. Much of what we call mental illness arises from mistaking mental process for identity.

Presence treatment almost always offers an immediate good feeling. Any time a person is able to attain a state of total presence, they report feeling uplifted and alive. It is possible to achieve an immediate, short-term, positive result.

Presence Therapy includes a powerful concentration meditation with the capacity to induce a state of no-thought and of seven principles that, when practiced, serve to support and maintain a high degree of focused attention into the present moment.

 

James Westly, MC, LPC, is a former teacher of spiritual practices and has been practicing Presence Therapy in the mental health community for the past 10 years. 602-469-7105.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 2, April/May 2006.

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