DR. SMITH’S WEBPAGE AND
THE M-TRACKER INITIATIVE
ABOUT DR. SMITH
I am a Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. My work focuses on advanced relaxation and mindfulness theory and practice, with applications in business, health, sports, education, the military, and religion. In addition I publish in the areas of critical thinking (as applied to paranormal claims) as well as stress management. Current projects include three books: The Coping with Stress Book: Stress and the Eye of Mindfulness, Mindfulness Reinvented: A Toolkit for Trainers, The Mindfulness Reinvented Trainee Guide, and Critical Thinking in a World of Pseudoscience and Paranormal Belief.
I earned my doctorate in psychology in 1975 from Michigan State University and obtained my license as a clinical psychologist. Since 1976 I have taught at Roosevelt University’s Psychology department and continue full time as a tenured full professor. I have taught and supervised undergraduate, MA, and doctoral students in scientific psychology, dissertation work, clinical psychology, assessment, stress, mindfulness, and critical thinking.
In the 1980’s I served as Psychology Department Chair and created Roosevelt University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology. In addition, I am Founding Director of the Roosevelt University Stress Institute. The Stress Institute, and its sister Institute at the University of the Basque Country in Spain, has fostered over three dozen student publications and is known world wide for its advancements. The Institute is in the process of evolving into an expanded international mindfulness initiative.
My publications include 23 books and more than three dozen articles (without a single sabbatical leave) In addition, I have served as expert outside reviewer for PsycCRITIQUES, Perceptual and Motor Skills, The Brain, and Psychosomatic Medicine. I have published invited chapters as “guest expert” in eight textbooks and encyclopedias. My book publishers have included Aldine, Guilford Press, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Plenum, Praeger, Prentice-Hall, Research Press, Springer, and Wiley/Blackwell. My personal and professional materials on critical thinking as well as mindfulness and relaxation are positively regarded (two have been reviewed by the American Psychological Association’s PsycCRITIQUES as “best” in the field). Internationally I have served as consultant for doctoral students, business, and professional agencies in Spain, China, India, and France. Currently, scholars from four continents are using my relaxation and mindfulness assessment tools.
In 2014 I retired my practice as a Clinical Psychologist to work full time developing and teaching effective science-based approaches to mindfulness. My latest series of books, “Mindfulness Reinvented,” is scheduled to be released late 2015. I share my ideas, techniques, and findings in training programs and workshops for health professionals and the general public.
Friends and colleagues sometimes ask about my perspective. Although I’ve studied and done things meditative for half a century (and have explored the paths of Christianity, Vedanta, Buddhism, Atheism, and so on), For those who insist on asking, I can say only that I have no hammer to bang, no cross to brandish, no ethereal trumpet to blow. I try to maintain the role of honest and respectful student observer.
THE M-TRACKER PROJECT
Helping Students with the Frustrations of Meditation
Researchers at the Roosevelt University Stress Institute are coordinating an extensive set of studies on the effects of variety of personal enrichment techniques and activities. These include mindfulness, meditation, yoga, relaxation, contemplation, and prayer.
We are not interested in finding if one approach is best. Instead, we are looking at the unique promise each has to offer. Beginning practitioners of all approaches often find core techniques slow, frustrating, and often boring. Seasons practitioners can encounter dry spells and periods of apparent lack of growth. We are interested in universal tools and strategies for meeting the inevitable challenges of practicing meditation and mindfulness. Our primary source book is the text The Coping with Stress Book: Stress and the Eye of Mindfulness. Our primary tool of inquiry is the M-Tracker.
The M-Tracker is a simple 10-minute questionnaire that asks about feelings one might have while practicing an exercise or activity. Based on over 30 years of extensive published research on thousands of practitioners of a wide range of techniques, including yoga, breathing, meditation, mindfulness, prayer, contemplation, progressive muscle relaxation, self-hypnosis, imagery, relaxation, and biofeedback. The M-Tracker is both a powerful training tool and an assessment instrument. As a training tool practitioners use it to assess the impact of weekly sessions of practice. This enables one to track progress and compare technique modifications. As an assessment instrument, we use the Tracker to compare the promise of a wide range of approaches, as in the M-Tracker Project.
The M-Tracker Project has three branches:
- Comparing approaches. Here researchers select three groups: Approach 1 (perhaps yoga), Approach 2 (perhaps mindfulness), and a no-treatment control group (simply students in class). Groups 1 and 2 practice their approach and then take the M-Tracker to describe what happened. We then compare the approaches with each other and the control. This is part of the Standard M-Tracker Research Template available to students and qualified professionals.
- Examining practice variables. We will look at the effects of various practice variables on the effects of a technique. These include: number of years practiced, frequency of practice, length of practice session, and group vs. individual practice.
- Exploring target populations. We will look at the effects of a technique on different populations. For example, what are the effects of mindfulness for those dealing with substance abuse, stress, and emotional trauma.
The long-term goal of the M-Tracker project is to amass a large M-Tracker Database of the effects of a variety of techniques under a variety of conditions. Researchers from around the world will contribute to this effort. All researchers will have free access to the M-Tracker, and complete ownership of any publication their research generates. In exchange, researchers contribute their data to the M-Tracker Database and grant users of the database permission to conduct on the combined pool.
An invitation to Researchers and Students
The M-Project is an open-source research endeavor. Qualified researchers and students are invited to participate and serve as independent investigators. Properly completed, research on any of its three branches are highly publishable and designed to make a significant contribution to the field. We have available a standard research format templates for students interested in publishing.
THE CORE SOURCEBOOK
The Coping with Stress Book is the primary source for our theory of mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. It is also the textbook used in practical undergraduate stress management courses at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. In addition to outlining theory specifics, The Coping with Stress Book explains how relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness are best viewed not in isolation, but as closely related to contemporary evidence-based approaches to cognitive behavioral stress management. Approaches to stress management include: problem-solving, brainstorming, time management, setting priorities, procrastination, cognitive stress and irrational thinking, desensitization, relapse prevention, assertiveness, shyness, anger, aggression, job stress, and crises and catastrophes. The full spectrum of relaxation and mindfulness approaches include: progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, breathing, autogenics and self-suggestion, deepening imagery, contemplation, and loving/kindness meditation — all viewed through the lens of mindfulness. Five mindfulness and meditation exercises are presented. The reader is guided through the worlds of relaxation and stress management, returning again and again to the guiding basics of mindfulness. The Coping with Stress Book is a highly practical handbook for students wishing to master meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, and stress management. It is the primary sourcebook for research on the M-Tracker.
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(c) 2015, Jonathan C. Smith, PhD
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FOR PERMISSION TO USE, CONTACT: ProfessorSmithChicago@gmail.com
A SAMPLER OF BOOKS BY DR. SMITH
A professional text for teachers and scholars. Comprehensive toolkit of mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation instructions for health professionals wishing to teach mindfulness to others. Appropriate for those new to mindfulness or individuals desiring to revive their practice. Includes core mindfulness exercises, premindfulness booster exercises, and exercises for extending mindfulness into life. Also included are transcripts for making audio recording, tests, and checklists for assessing progress. Complementary companion exercises include: yoga, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, and deepening imagery.
Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker’s Toolkit
- Integrates simple yet powerful evaluative tools used by both paranormal believers and skeptics alikeIntroduces innovations such as a continuum for ranking paranormal claims and evaluating their implications
- Includes an innovative “Critical Thinker’s Toolkit,” a systematic approach for performing reality checks on paranormal claims related to astrology, psychics, spiritualism, parapsychology, dream telepathy, mind-over-matter, prayer, life after death, creationism, and more
- Explores the five alternative hypotheses to consider when confronting a paranormal claim
Written in a lively, engaging style for students and general readers alike
A loving satire of traditional religion. Consists of 128 anagrams of “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” arranged to form an epic poem of critical thinking and enlightenment. Warning: contains content that is blasphemous, utterly absurd, and sexually explicit.