For decades, clinicians have used mindfulness-based interventions to treat stress, physical pain, and mental disorders. But there’s more to meditation than “mindfulness” alone, and the next wave of researchers in this field is still working out how to incorporate other practices from the wisdom traditions that gave rise to mindfulness-based treatment in the first place.
Dr. Eric Garland is a clinical researcher who has devoted his life to developing a novel mind-body therapy called Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), which combines mindfulness with other practices and exercises to promote a greater sense of well-being and even self-transcendence as part of the recovery process. His work has strong evidence for efficacy in treating not just addiction, but also chronic pain.
Eric Garland PhD, LCSW, is the Distinguished Endowed Chair in Research and Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Utah College of Social Work, where he is also the director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development (C-MIIND). He has received over $60 million in federal grants to develop and test novel integrative health interventions, including trials of MORE as a treatment for opioid problems, opioid use disorder, and chronic pain. His website is www.drericgarland.com, and you can find him on Twitter.
In this episode:
- The three pillars of Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement, including “reappraisal”—skills for disengaging from and reframing negative thoughts—and “savoring”—using focused attention training to tune in to natural reward.
- The use of self-transcendence as a clinical intervention, including evidence about how even folks with severe problems can tap into a sense of transcendence and experience significant symptom relief.
- The challenges of “McMindfulness,” and how Eric thinks about doing mechanistic research on mindfulness without totally abandoning ethics, values, and meaning. (see David Loy and Ron Purser’s essay on McMindfulness here)
- A central question for his biological research: "how do you restore the healthy function of the reward system, so the brain re-leans what is and what is not important in life? what is and is not meaningful in life?"
- Eric’s counterintuitive approach to working with chronic pain by going directly into the heart of pain—and how this applies to mental pain such as craving.
- How to get from mindfulness to meaning—how certain types of mindfulness practice can lead to an enduring sense of meaning and purpose
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