As a psychiatrist, the Big Mind process has profoundly influenced my own personal development, and has helped transform the way that I work with patients. It has helped me to become more open, aware, and genuine in my work with others. I often use it as a complement to psychotherapy, and find that working with “Big Mind”, “Big Heart” and other transcendent “voices” can help create spaciousness that facilitates the psychotherapy process. I have also used it with cancer patients, and have found that exploring the transcendent voices can help generate a sense of peace and comfort for those who are physically ailing and may be nearing the end of their lives. The Big Mind process is a powerful healing tool that can relieve suffering by helping people directly experience their own inherent wholeness, even in the midst of mental or physical illness.
I am nearing completion of a research project that is studying the use of the Big Mind process with advanced cancer patients. In this study, advanced cancer patients are randomly assigned to either a cancer support group, or a Big Mind group. Patients in the Big Mind group participate in a series of four two-hour sessions, and fill out pre- and post-group questionnaires to look at the effect of the Big Mind sessions on mood, anxiety, quality of life, and sense of spiritual well-being. In the future, I envision similar studies that might look at the effect of the Big Mind process on people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction problems.
Paul Thielking, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Utah
Salt Lake City
I use Big Mind in the context of psychotherapy to explore with my clients issues such as personality disorders, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Once I worked with a war survivor who had developed a problem of hoarding as well as an obsessive need to protect her family to a point of compromising their freedoms. By talking to the voices of the Controller and of No-Control, she was able to see clearly her need to control as a way to attain environmental as well as personal safety. When she was able to transcend both aspects, then she could choose when it was appropriate to control, or let go of her controller completely. As she understood that there was more to her than her identity of a hoarder or a controller, she began to practice with voices such as Wisdom and the Master, and less transcendental ones like the “De-Clutterer”, Spontaneity, and Protector.
Another time a man came to see me because he was suffering from frequent panic attacks. He reported that during each attack, his heart would start racing and that he could not breathe. He believed that he was dying, and felt he was desperately clinging to his life. Talking to the voice of Fear for some time helped him feel free to be afraid, which made fear a less powerful force in his life. He also talked to the One Who Is Dying, and learned to relax into the process of dying, while embracing his death as it came. After this session, my client reported no new panic attacks.
As an example of Big Mind applied to couples therapy, an enjoyable exercise I use is having each partner talk as the voice of the other partner. The interchanging of perspectives can be a powerful way of eliciting understanding between partners.
Big Mind can also be an invaluable tool for counselors working in the fields of crisis management, addiction, or end of life issues, to name a few. Facilitators can help clients to access voices that instantly help them transcend their perceived limitations and dysfunctional coping mechanisms, and feel more empowered and ready for change. Further, the ability for experienced clients to one day utilize the techniques of Big Mind as a personal and readily available tool offers an educational component, which stays with them long after their counseling experience.
Eva Malia, M.Ed., LMHC.
Providence, Rhode Island