I found an article from a UK author who has been quoted in the media quite a bit lately, speaking about new, alternative therapies for people to deal with anxiety and depression. He said:
“My so-called mental health problems were restored by a new generation of therapies, such as sensorimotor psychotherapy, somatic experiencing and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing).”
Why are these therapies different?
With these therapies, the therapist “tries to engage with the mammal part of the brain and biology, not the human thinking or ‘mind’.”
According to Benjamin Fry, “The instruction to patients is often to engage with ‘sensation’ rather than ‘thought’.”
Why should a person focus on sensation rather than thought?
Fry believes that this helps us “to resolve problems in our mammalian brain rather than in the human neocortex. This is radically new because it puts the primal, animal instinct before the brilliant, overdeveloped human in the chain of solving this particular problem.”
In fact, this is nothing new at all.
Focus on sensation – free your “monkey” mind
I know personally of two different methods of doing the same thing. I have often spoken about Vipassana on this blog before. This is a Buddhist method of meditation where you focus solely on the sensations on your body – or sankharas as they are known.
From Wikipedia: “Saṅkhāra-khandha is understood to be that which propels human (and other sentient) beings along the process of becoming by means of actions of body and speech.”
With vipassana – a student meditator will focus on the sensations on their body while meditating. This leads the student to a mental state where they can begin to appreciate the realities of their mortal life: that their body is constantly changing, minute to minute, and that they have the power within them to react to the changes they witness and observe, or not to.
Now modern science has caught up
One of the methods that Fry was speaking about is somatic experiencing. According to Wikipedia, this “is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences).”
Benjamin Fry’s clinic offers services in some of these new therapies. I think it’s great that Fry has taken his passion on this subject to a clinic that offers services that he believes in. Having said that, it doesn’t come cheap. According to the clinic’s FAQ page, the cost is up to $US6300. The treatment can last up to 10 weeks.
Free methods of coping with mental stress
Vipassana is free. Some centres do charge for it – but you will find many that do not. The problem with vipassana is the time it takes. For a proper course, you will need 10 full days and a day either side. You will live like a monk or a nun. A meditator will meditate for around 10 or 11 hours per day, in “noble silence” and eat only vegetarian meals.
If more western people took the time out to meditate and focus on their true selves – there would be less anxiety and mental trauma.
Modern lives are causing stress
“Societal anxieties have risen sharply in the last five years and the trend looks set to continue,” says Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist at Mind Lab International. A recent BBC article told us that Modern life ’causes major stress’.
Or were people always stressed, anxious and depressed?
Things are bad and getting worse! “Time magazine’s June 6, 1983 cover story called stress ‘The Epidemic of the Eighties’ and referred to it as our leading health problem.”
Are things getting better or worse? “There can be little doubt that the situation has progressively worsened since then. Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.” The article from the Anxiety Centre states that people are more stressed than they were 30 years ago.