About Dr. Smith
Dr. Smith is a Professor of Psychology at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, and founding Director of the Roosevelt University Mindfulness Initiative (formerly the Stress Institute). In his over 40 years at the University, he has served as teacher, supervisor, program director, researcher, clinical psychologist, and most notably initiator of the Roosevelt University doctoral program (PsyD) in clinical psychology. Although Dr. Smith’s expertise includes clinical psychology, personality theory, critical thinking (applied to the paranormal and health psychology), and stress management, most of his work has focused on mindfulness theory and practice. He has studied and practiced mindfulness and contemplative techniques since 1969. Since 1975 he has taught over 150 mindfulness classes of over 4,000 students. Not wedded to any specific tradition, his approach is inclusive, flexible, individualized, and based on science. A typical course covers a complete menu of exercises, including at least the following: yoga, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation autogenic self-suggestion, imagery, mantra meditation, and full mindfulness.Dr. Smith’s publications include more than 20 books (with more in preparation) and three dozen articles. His book publishers have included Aldine, Kendall Hunt, Guilford Press, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Plenum, Praeger, Prentice-Hall, Research Press, Springer, and Wiley/Blackwell. Dr. Smith continues to consult and serve on mindfulness dissertation committees around the world (recently the Republic of China, the People’s Republic of China, India, France, Canada and Iran).
THE MINDFULNESS TRACKER INITIATIVE
The Mindfulness Tracker Initiative is an international research program housed in Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Our goal is to explore a diverse array of approaches to contemplation, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation. We are not interested in which approach is best or unique. Instead, we are examining the immediate and long-term effects of practice and the relative influence of various variables (such as group vs. individual practice, daily vs. weekly practice, length of practice session, number of years practiced, and combination of various approaches). We are interested in how these approaches work best and how to enhance practice. This research effort uses the new “RMM Tracker” mindfulness inventory and is based a theory of relaxation/meditation/mindfulness outlined in my recent book Third-Generation Mindfulness and the Universe of Relaxation. Through the RMM Tracker Project practitioners from various traditions can share their experiences, insights, and struggles with others. By participating in the R/M Tracker Project you will contribute to group insights that may help others along their journey.
Some of the questions we are considering are the following (all make use of various versions of the RMM Tracker inventories):
- What are the different psychological effects (on the RMM Tracker) of techniques such as mindfulness, mantra meditation, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- What states of mind emerge early in RMM training? Which emerge later?
- Do practitioners of RMM training display any RMM Traits not displayed by nonpractitioners?
- What practice variables (session duration, daily/weekly practice, number of sessions a week) are associated with practice effects defined by the RMM Tracker?
- What RMM Tracker states are most associated with symptom reduction (pain management, muscle tension reduction)?
- What non-technique practices and beliefs are associated with the emergence of higher RMM states for practitioners of RMM techniques?
- Are relaxation states distinct from mindfulness states, or are they different aspects of the same thing?
- What RMM states are most associated with continued practice and growth in RMM practice?
- What RMM techniques work best as preparatory exercises?
- What RMM states are most conductive to the development of the core mindfulness skills of “sustained passive simple focus with minimal judgment and effort” (Smith 2017)?
- What RMM states are most definitive of mindfulness? Of concentrative (FA) meditation?
- What RMM states emerge as one becomes proficient at practice? Do advanced meditators experience different RMM states compared with novices?
Background for Prospective Students and Assistants
I recommend that students who are interested in conducting thesis or dissertation research have some experience with meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or a related discipline. Furthermore, it is important to be familiar with the basic research on relaxation and mindfulness as outlined in my book Third-Generation Mindfulness and the Universe of Relaxation.
You need to be conversant in the following areas:
- What is stress? Differentiate stimulus-based, response-based, and newer models.
- What are the types of stress management?
- What are stress arousal and the fight or flight response?
- What is the relaxation response?
- What is the mindfulness response? What parts of the brain are involved?
- What are the evidence-based benefits of mindfulness
- What are first-generation mindfulness and second-generation mindfulness?
- What is third-generation mindfulness and how is it different from first-generation and second-generation mindfulness?
- What is the relationship between third- generation mindfulness and yoga, progressive muscle relaxation exercises, autogenics imagery, meditation, and traditional mindfulness?
- What six are the major groups of self-relaxation?
- What are are four components of the Eye of Mindfulness?
First, I recommend students view Anderson Coopers excellent brief introduction to mindfulness. Google: “anderson cooper jon kabat-zinn 60 minutes Special on Mindfulness.” or “anderson cooper mindfulness meditation 60 minutes.”
Next, I suggest that students with no experience in mindfulness try two excellent meditation apps recommended by Wirecutter from the New York Times. After interviewing university experts in the field, Wirecutter suggests two apps: Headspace (headspace.com) and Calm (calm.com). Of these, I would start with headspace. Consider Andy Puddicombe’s book, “The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness.” This text presents a simple set of beginning exercises (minus yoga) as traditionally taught in the West. Also consider exercises in Jon Kabat-Ziinn’s mindfulness classic, “Full Catastrophe Living, Revised Edition.”
Students who try any exercises from the above recommended sources might want to complete the RMM tracker after a good session. In addition, I recommend identifying which of the six major groups of self-relaxation and four components of the Eye of Mindfulness are represented in the various exercises.
Try This Mindfulness Experiment
If you are new to mindfulness and would like to try it before continuing, here is a brief training exercise I use in classes. (For more detailed instructions, including the complete mindfulness training program, check my book: Third-Generation Mindfulness and the Universe of Relaxation:
The Eye of Mindfulness guides you through four classic core mindfulness-related exercises:
- Body Scanning
- Breath Scanning
- Focused and Mantra Meditation
- Open Focus pure mindfulness
Try this introduction four times . Then select one of the four as your “home exercise” and practice daily for two weeks. If you want, you may pick an exercise from Headspace.com or Clam.com. It doesn’t matter how long you practice. One minute or 20 are fine. Just do it regularly. Here is the Eye of Mindfulness:
Once you have picked your home exercise, practice it daily for as long as you can tolerate. Start with one minute. You can use this timer from onlinemeditationtimer.com/:
Take an RMM Tracker after your best session.
THIRD-GENERATION MINDFULNESS AND THE UNIVERSE OF RELAXATION
Third-Generation Mindfulness is an innovative introduction to mindfulness, meditation, and professional self-relaxation. This comprehensive guide provides a unique and inclusive vision that is both evidence-based and, in contrast to current trends, non-Buddhist.
Third-Generation Mindfulness begins with the four techniques used in classical secular mindfulness training. Subsequent chapters consider yoga, active and passive breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, body self-suggestion (“autogenics”), imagery, and emotion-focused approaches, contemplation, loving-kindness meditation, and gratitude meditation. It is argued that although many of these approaches come from traditions apart from mindfulness, they can be usefully framed, integrated, and applied in terms of mindfulness theory
Departing from most schools of training, no one approach is favored; instead, all are presented equally as samples from a world menu of many options. The goal is to build a personal program based on what works best. This journey is framed and guided by a roadmap: Third-Generation Mindfulness Theory.
Third-Generation Mindfulness Theory outlines a new empirically derived map of “5+1 Levels” of mindfulness. Here, mindfulness is more than basic “awareness” and “acceptance.” Instead, mindfulness is a dynamic and evolving process that exists at five levels. Initial training cultivates Basic Relaxation (Level 1), progressing to Quiet Focus (2), Awakening (3), Deepening (4), and Transformation and Transcendence (5). All levels exist in the context of supportive positive emotions such as Happiness, Trust, Love and Caring, and Thankfulness. Unique to this meta-approach is that not one, but all levels define a rich and dynamic portrait of mindfulness. Any level can emerge for any secular or spiritual approach. There is a bit of mindfulness in all of relaxation. There is a bit of relaxation in all of mindfulness.
Third-Generation Mindfulness is the product of over 20 years of research involving over 6000 participants from diverse traditions. Exercise scripts and assessment tools have been developed and refined in over (15-week) 150 training classes involving over 4000 students.
This text is written in a friendly, clear, concise, and engaging style appropriate for both students and professionals. Instructions, transcripts, and assessment checklists are presented for over 13 exercise systems.
The core ideas of Third-Generation MIndfulness, as well as actual usable templates and instructions for the RMM Tracker series, are presented in the forthcoming text,
THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER
STUDENT PROJECTS AND THE RMM TEAM: VOLUNTEERS AND ASSOCIATES
Over the past decade nearly three dozen doctoral students from around the world have conducted research and published studies on relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness. Most have used variations of the RMM Tracker (see top for links). Currently about 5 students a year are part of the ongoing RMM Team.
This year are a conducting study on the effects of a wide range of personal enrichment techniques and activities, including mindfulness, meditation, yoga, relaxation, contemplation, and prayer. We are not interested in showing if any are better than others. Instead, we are trying to find out from actual practitioners what makes any approach work best. We expect the ongoing results of this project will help practitioners of a variety of disciplines along their path.
The RMM Team has two types of assistants. Students interested in finding out about various projects underway can work as Volunteers collecting and entering data. After working as a Volunteer, students can apply to work as Research Associates and direct their work toward eventual publication. All Associates are expected to publish their work under the guidance and assistance of Dr. Smith.