Adaptation Practice

Developed by psychiatrist Clive Sherlock Adaptation Practice is based on his interpretation of Zen Buddhism. His approach to mindfulness can perhaps best be described as opposite to that of cognitive behavioural therapy where therapists aim to change their patient’s thoughts and thus their behaviour.

Instead Adaptation Practice asks practitioners to simply accept their thoughts for what they are but not to react to them, just to observe and then letting them go while at the same time do what needs to be done at this very moment (like following a schedule) .

Consequently, practitioners aim to stop thinking about the past or the future by eliminating thought processes involving questioning, reflection or contemplation in order to free their mind from otherwise debilitating (unhelpful) thought processes.

Sherlock proposes that tolerating feelings without attaching oneself to it brings about the changes one desires. The willingness to letting go of a thought instead of holding on to it and having it ‘your way’ is all that is needed.

Hence, following a defined schedule (i.e. getting up at a certain time every day, go to work, etc) becomes the focus of the mind to the exclusion of thinking too much about anything else (i.e. wouldn’t it be nice sleeping in, etc) – ‘just do what needs to be done’ without dwelling on it is the slogan that describes the mindset one should hold.

Sherlock points out that his approach requires a great level of self-discipline to be effective. Some of his patients were concerned that the required level of commitment and directing their thoughts entirely on what needs to be done there and then would turn them into emotionless machines.

However, to their surprise they found that they can still express emotions internally without having to behave differently.

Sherlock’s mindfulness philosophy can be summoned up in three statements:

1. To counteract the way most of us live, i.e. what we feel is what we do – hence we need to be simply doing what needs to be done without rationalising it.
2. Do not procrastinate rather deal with everything there and then, so there is no need to think about it later.
3. Work with your feelings by neither suppressing, nor expressing or distracting from them. Just allow yourself to feel them for a short moment and then let them go

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