Book Review: “In This Moment. Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience. “

Posted on June 23, 2015

Portrait of pensive womanIn This Moment.   Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience.  2015, New Harbinger, $16.95.   By Kirk Strosahl, PhD and Patti Robinson, PhD.

In SMART, we use Tools to reduce stress and disturbances.   We use the ABC Tool to reduce our self-made cognitive stress, and create more healthy behavior by changing our thoughts.  We use the DISARM Tool to change our relationship to thoughts and bodily sensations, to maintain and regain control over our choices.  Stress reduction can reduce reactive behavior and allow humans to focus and move on toward what they decide is important.

Kirk Strosahl and Patti Robinson work directly with clients and medical patients and have honed their skills in translating the theory of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training) into useful tools and skills for laypersons.  The purpose of ACT is similar to the purpose of REBT (on which SMART is based), and that purpose is improving personal power and choice to move forward toward rational and healthy living.

This book utilizes Mindfulness, or Active Self-Awareness, and helps one gain and improve perspectives on thoughts and feelings, to maintain a healthy Self In Charge, to make it easier to focus on and move toward what is important.   It is an easy read, with some warm and fluffy passages, and it’s all based on science.  ACT has over 100 studies to back up the fact that it helps people with various problems, including stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  Of course, ACT and REBT both offer Tools, and it’s up to us to learn and use the Tools when we need them.

Mindfulness, of course, is part of ACT’s foundation, or Hexaflex, as in  “Be Here Now, Open Up to Feelings and Thoughts, and realize Thoughts are just Thoughts and Feelings are not commands, etc.”     The idea is, if you do this, you then create the freedom for yourself to make choices on where to move, what to do, and doing so while remembering what is important to you.   You also realize that someone realizes all that stuff and “he/she is the guy in charge.”

When I facilitate our local SMART Meeting, I try to get folks to understand this “Guy in Charge” concept, and how to access “that guy” with a moment’s notice, so to speak, to prevent problems and to do what’s important.    [Sometimes I compare “that guy” to the Wizard of Oz, the guy who was behind the curtain, and he had all the controls at his fingertips for the fancy lights and flames on the stage of Oz.   If we can pull back the curtain, we remember there is someone in charge.]

I recommend the book highly to anyone interested in learning ways to reduce stress while still making decisions and creating movement in the direction of one’s values.

This book is the laypersons’ version, and will be followed in late 2015 by a text for professionals, to be called Inside This Moment.

Don Sheeley, MD

Don Sheeley is an Emergency Physician and ACT Therapist in Saratoga Springs, NY. 

3 thoughts on “Book Review: “In This Moment. Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience. “

  1. HughK

    Hi Paul,
    “ACT emphasis on the hopeless of attempting to control private experience is akin to 12-step’s basis in powerlessness” is in reality way off the mark.
    From above “that purpose is improving personal power and choice to move forward toward rational and healthy living.”
    ACT is nothing like 12 Step – especially Step 1.
    Both SMART and ACT emphasize Personal Power.
    SMART discourages the use of labels “you are an alcoholic and you need to acknowledge that fact along with the fact that there is nothing you can do about it” – SMART contends there are no facts at all like that.
    “ACT encourages the cultivation of a transcendent self (aka a higher power)” is totally off the mark also – from above “ACT and REBT both offer Tools, and it’s up to us to learn and use the Tools when we need them”
    The thrust of both SMART and ACT is, from above, “you then create the freedom for yourself to make choices” – MY choices.
    Great review Don, thankyou very much.

  2. Paul

    ACT has been explored at length for it’s compatibility with 12-step programs because of the commonalities between the two approaches. ACT emphasis on the hopeless of attempting to control private experience is akin to 12-step’s basis in powerlessness. Furthermore, ACT encourages the cultivation of a transcendent self (aka a higher power). Also, both require the acceptance of a permanent status quo of self, recognizing but not attempting to alter painful feelings that are the core self – i.e. you are an alcoholic and you need to acknowledge that fact along with the fact that there is nothing you can do about it. ACT at its simplest is the serenity prayer encouraging participants to accept that there are things about themselves they cannot change, while there are other things that can be changed, and participants must be able to recognize the difference. (Hayes, et al., 2004)

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