Mindful Framing: Transform Your Anxiety Into Vital Energy, by Dr. Oscar Segurado, New York: NEO Chi Edition, 2018, Kindle Edition, approx. 77 pages.
ANXIETY AND STRESS are epidemic in today’s fast-paced world. In response, many turn to meditation and related practices with limited long-term success. Oscar Segurado understands why. Meditation worked well for thousands of years, but can’t counter the effects of life in the twenty-first century. Instead, you need a new approach to control anxiety—especially given the proven connection between stress and serious diseases, including cancer, caused by a dysfunctional immune system. This book is a step-by-step guide to generate Chi, vital energy, by engaging your mind’s eye to connect with Nature, harmonize your Emotions and invigorate your Organism, especially your immune system. A mere fifteen minutes of mindful framing in the morning creates a solid mental framework for the rest of the day. You are the screenwriter and director of a lifestyle movie leading to a calm mind, healthy relationships and a vigorous body. It’s a modern world. We need a modern way to transform anxiety into vital energy. Segurado offers the way: mindful framing.
—Source: Book Website: http://mindfulbook.com
Dr. Segurado writes in the presentation of his book that the ancient practices of meditation have much to teach us, but they’re not well suited for our anxiety-driven modern life. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation once worked well, but today, only experienced meditators achieve calm, relaxed minds by focusing on mantras, breathing, or objects. We need a different approach to deal with anxiety. Beyond engaging daily our mind on self-reflection, we need to frame each of the 1,440 minutes in a day around a natural, empathetic, and healthy lifestyle.
Oscar Segurado, MD, PhD, has developed the practice of mindful framing and the associated NEO Chi lifestyle to address this unmet need. A physician-scientist passionate for integrative medicine, he experienced firsthand the emotional effects of anxiety even as he witnessed its impact on family, friends, and colleagues.
As an immunologist, he knows too well how stress and anxiety trigger serious immune-mediated diseases, including cancer, chronic infections, and autoimmunity.
Combining his medical knowledge with a lifelong interest in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, Segurado developed and practices daily mindful framing and the NEO Chi lifestyle, designed with the modern world in mind.
Supported with audiovisual materials, mindful framing defines a novel nature-mind-body connection for the twenty-first century.
With just fifteen minutes of daily practice, you’ll experience a more intimate connection with the natural world, emotional harmony with the minds around you, and a feeling of overall invigoration.
To review this very well-written and competent book was no easy matter, to be true. Contrary to most people, I am myself a meditator and have achieved a completely silent mind, without any thoughts for more than an hour, in about 5 years of Zen meditation. But fighting anxiety, at times bordering panic attacks, was a different matter. For that to achieve I needed 30 years of meditation practice!
Now, tell somebody with a regular job that you offer a technique for fighting his anxiety that will take approximately 30 years of his life, and the person will ask you if you are joking?
Yes, I do have a sense of reality: I know that for most people with a tough schedule and a pay job such is pretty much an illusionary endeavor.
Hence the practical value of a very directed form of mindfulness meditation the author offers and that is short-timed, well-framed, and effective. It namely does not need any meditation experience at all and can be done also by rather Cartesian-minded or ‘left-brain’ people who will use their intellect for achieving the desired results.
The author reports in the Welcome section of Chapter One: ‘For years, I have been absorbing ideas, words of wisdom, and expert advice about the mind-body connection and experiencing for myself the emotional and physical benefits of meditation, yoga, and healthy living. However, I always wanted more than a relaxation technique. (…) I have practiced different meditation styles on mantras, mindfulness, or body scanning, but always had the problem of mind wandering, therefore I became disheartened and gave up incorporating them into my daily routine. This struggle is what led me develop my own practice: mindful framing. This is a self-reflection practice based on fast-paced mental images that I can see with my mind’s eye, my imagination, also known as visualization. Integrating this practice into my life has helped me transform my anxiety into positive vital energy. Vital energy encompasses my emotional and physical energy, often wasted in anxious thoughts and their physical and emotional consequences.’
The book is a selfhelp guide and proceeds step by step, it gives clear guidance for achieving the following goals, using mental imaging:
- Overcoming your anxiety by riding in an imaginary bus;
- Getting a felt sense of all of your feelings by traveling through a fictional landscape;
- Identifying your key personality traits while watching a symbolic ‘emotional tree;’
- Invigorating your immune system by discovering the intricacies of your organism.
This is quite an ambitious goal, I would say, and actually thought when first reading the book. But reading on I also saw that the author manages rather well to direct the reader for each and every activity, and he even has developed a new lifestyle that he calls the NEO Chi lifestyle which is explained and promoted on his website. As the author explains it, it is the framework for achieving ‘a balanced mind and a healthy body.’
The book also contains an interesting teaching tale, a detective story that is about fighting crimes in the city of Boston. The author explains that the tale is ‘a metaphor for our immune system in the context of other biological systems.’ The story reads fluently, and is very nicely illustrated.
I find the author’s approach reasonable in being careful with big promises. He cautions: ‘Let’s be realistic: to achieve a sustained transformation of your anxiety and stress, you need to change your frame of mind. You may notice short-term benefits after a few weeks of meditation or self-reflection practice, but you will not see long-lasting effects unless you incorporate new habits and routines into your life. (…) You need to change, adapt, and refine your lifestyle.
I also find it positive that the author as a holistically oriented medical doctor cautions with regard to every medical technique having their proper place in the system, thereby avoiding to claim miraculous effects by only using his framing technique. He writes: ‘Mindful framing and the NEO Chi lifestyle are not a replacement for conventional medicine or other health care modalities. Western medicine, pharmaceutical drugs and surgeries, as well as complementary interventions have their places at the right time.’
Now, what is really mindful framing? Chapter 3 is all about it and the author explains here: ‘The key characteristic of mindful framing is the use of your mind’s eye to imagine a predefined sequence of themes and images described below. During this practice, you imagine five scenes, usually played in sequence, or independently during the training period. In contrast to other meditation methods, your mind is not focused on a mantra, an object or scanning your body. In contrast to guided meditation, once mindful framing is learned, it does not require audiovisual support. (…) Over time, you will be able to produce, direct, and edit your own sequence of themes and images, adding new ideas, scenes, and characters fitting best with your desired frame of mind and lifestyle.’
Without anticipating too much of the real technique that should not be copied into a book review, I think I have given enough credit to the merits and credibility of the author as the originator of a novel mindfulness technique that uses framing, a method known from psychology, to achieve mental calm, relaxation and freedom from anxiety.
The technique is meticulously described and explained in the book and the website is a great resource for further information.
I highly recommend this book for all and everybody who are ready to tackle stress and anxiety but are either unfamiliar with meditation or have tried it and found it unsatisfactory or too time-consuming. This is a modern technique modeled by the author from a lot of ancient wisdom and modern research, including psychology, that has the great promise to actually work and bring benefits to many people.