About Dr. Smith
I am a Professor of Psychology at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, and founding Director of the Roosevelt University Mindfulness Initiative (formerly the Stress Institute).
My work focuses on stress management and advanced 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. Occasionally I publish work on the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I have served as Psychology Department Chair where I created the initial Roosevelt University doctoral program in clinical psychology.
My publications include 25 books and more than three dozen articles. In addition, I 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. Currently I teach courses on meditation / mindfulness / contemplation / relaxation at Chicago’s Roosevelt University.
Our Approach to Mindfulness
(See “Second Generation Mindfulness” above)
Professional relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness have come of age. The big reason is that these techniques work. Skills at relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness may yield many rewards for health, productivity, and well-being.
But there are problems. Some are afraid to try, confused by the many approaches available. Students persist with important questions:
• Which techniques are really mindfulness?
• Which fit my beliefs, or my religion?
• Are some in conflict with what I hold as true?
For those who have chosen an approach, questions may persist.
• I’m frustrated by long sessions.
• Am I practicing the right technique? Is there something better?
• This is distracting. I can’t focus. It takes too long. I don’t know if this exercise is working.
Over the decades I have developed an approach that addresses these questions, both for those new to mindfulness and those who want to enhance what they already practice. I call this approach the Eye of Mindfulness, the R/M Tracker Method, or “third generation mindfulness” (the first two generations are variations of somewhat secularized Buddhism). My approach is:
- Not Buddhist
- Not wedded to any religion
- Based on the brain-based skill of quiet,sustained simple focus. This core attentional act serves as a basic exercise and a template for understanding all levels of mindful practice, experience, and insight.
- Informed by the universal natural language of relaxation and mindfulness, words used by actual everyday practitioners to describe their experiences. This is in contrast to the esoteric or scientific terminology used by experts.
- Inclusive of a wide spectrum of techniques, strategies, and perspectives. Key to this inclusiveness is the recognition that all approaches to relaxation have elements of mindful focus and can serve as preparations or expressions of mindfulness. Indeed, many approaches to active stress management have elements of mindful focus.
- Supportive of active, creative, and authentic engagement in a challenging world.
Since 1984 I have taught various combinations of mindfulness and dozens of companion disciplines to roughly 5,000 students and clients. I have not restricted my instruction to mindful meditation, but have included a full rainbow of approaches, including progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, breathing exercises, t’ai chi, autogenic training, imagery, contemplation, loving kindness meditation and gratitude meditation. My students have taught me important lessons about what works and how to effectively present mindfulness. I have incorporate these insights in my recent work on The Eye of Mindfulness, Critical Thinking, and yes, even the Flying Spaghetti Monster.