Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, MD is a thorough cognitive psychology book treating problems such as anxiety and depression as caused by – and fixable by – the way we think.
1) There are many things we can’t control, from rush hour traffic to our genes and our past. But, as Burns explains, “In contrast, you can learn to change the way you think about things, and you can also change your basic values and beliefs. And when you do, you will often experience profound and lasting changes in your mood, outlook, and productivity.” Time in meditation and on the yoga mat provide two spaces to face these patterns of thinking.
2) It’s common to form negative thought patterns. We might notice these thought ruts on the yoga mat, through negative self-talk or through our interactions with other people. We can work to identify these thoughts, identify the underlying pattern, and practice more realistic responses.
3) In philosophical traditions such as yoga – and in religious traditions, too – the ideas of acceptance and of letting go are important. By examining our thought patterns and cognitive distortions, we can come to accept the fears, anger, and insecurity beneath more surface emotions. We can figure out what the real issues are, and why certain life situations trigger our discomfort.
A cognitive-behavioral approach will examine our belief systems, but may not always delve into greater spiritual issues or process childhood trauma. It can be a good tool for feeling better and a good start to self-study. It might be paired well with a book on the Enneagram for learning about your particular tendencies, or with a book on healing from your past. Or this Western approach might be just what you need! It certainly can be a text to use in your practice of svadhyaya, self-study.
If you’d like to check out this thorough classic for yourself, it’s easy to get a copy – kindle, second-hand, or mass market paperback – or Find it at a library nearby!