27 September 2023

Waking up to greater awareness

Start the conversation

Bruce Kasanoff* looks at the work of a clinical psychologist who believes the increasing problem of mental illness in society results from the “atrophy of our spiritual core”.

Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University, Lisa Miller describes depression as losing connection with the transcendent field of life.

“It’s when we feel cut off and are no longer in dialogue,” Dr Miller says.

Dr Miller (pictured) studies the intersection of spirituality and mental wellness.

As the Wall Street Journal said of her: “She conducts brain scans of people as they’re thinking spiritual thoughts and analyses large mental-health studies.

“Her research has found that spirituality helps protect us from depression and helps us become more resilient and make better decisions.

“Studies also show that these benefits typically occur regardless of what religion we are — or whether we’re religious at all.”

Asked to explain spirituality, Dr Miller said scientists don’t define it; rather they identify threads within human spiritual life.

Two threads stand out. The first is our capacity to have a relationship with the sacred.

People may call this God, the universe, a higher power or the force of life.

It is the capacity to feel loved, held and guided, that we are never alone.

The second thread is to share this with others.

She says: “If you feel trapped, isolated, or frustrated, there is not only promise but scientific hope, well-grounded pathways to expanding what is possible in your own life.

“It has to do with something very deep. It is our deep seat of perception, our very own brain. We are hardwired with the capacity for an awakened brain.

“We oftentimes power up our awakened brain through times of suffering.”

She says awakened awareness involves a different set of circuits in the brain, it involves an entirely different set of feelings, and it leads to a different style of decision-making.

We stop saying: “What do I want to have happen now?” Because that’s clearly not working, and instead, as a much more open question: “What is life showing me now?”

She says we might find some surprises. That our lives are going in a direction and our careers are flourishing in ways we had never even envisioned.

Dr Miller argues that each of us has an innate ability to shift to an awakened awareness state of mind — a state that allows us to know, and feel, that we are loved, held and guided.

The more you practice awakened awareness, the stronger and more impactful the state will be in your life.

“When people heal and come out of depression, it is because they have taken a breath, whether it’s for meditation or reflection or prayer or being in nature. They have re-engaged,” Dr Miller says.

“So many of us seek connection through things, and getting them can give us a little ‘ding’, almost like a little high for a moment.

“However, getting things is nothing like achieving awakened awareness and being in dialogue with life.”

She says that just as we are born with the capacity for language, so too we are endowed with a spiritual core.

“Our mainstream culture has led many people’s spiritual cores to atrophy,” Dr Miller says.

“Over 20 years I have worked on ways to ‘jump start’ our latent neural seat of spiritual awareness, finding success in the process of awakened awareness. It might feel remote or new at first, but very quickly ignites.”

She says once they begin to perceive the love, oneness, and guidance in life, people overcome feelings of isolation, depression, and despair.

They begin to genuinely connect with others for closer teamwork and relationships.

Using awakened awareness, we are able to make more innovative and creative decisions.

*Bruce Kasanoff is the founder of The Journey, a newsletter for positive, uplifting and accomplished professionals. He is also an executive coach and social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com.

This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.