About

I am a social worker and writer.  I’m the author of The Zen Path Through Depression.  I’ve been a Zen student for 35 years.  I work in a local social service agency as a case manager with adults and kids with mental illness, and I also teach mindfulness and writing classes for adults with mental health problems.

I wrote The Zen Path Through Depression out of my own struggles with depression, and the realization that any spiritual practice, in my case Zen practice, is not limited to certain aspects of our life but can help with any of the challenges we face.  And that, as Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.”  In that spirit this blog is an attempt to chart the path of spiritual practice in the mundane and yet vast field of daily life.  It could more accurately and simply be titled, The Zen Path Through

14 comments on “About

  1. zara livshitz says:

    I am reading your book, and it is very soothing. I read it very carefully, one chapter at a time.

    Thank you!!!

  2. erica says:

    Of all the books I’ve read so far on depressive illness, The Zen Path Through Depression captures the emotional territory for me. I bought your book about 4-5 years ago and found hope in it and it’s still relevant to my experience of depression – thank God for your book. It offers REAL HOPE of coming through to the other side of the tunnel, because you boldly explore the depths as well as the many emotional nuances of this psychological state. It makes me feel less alone since someone else is describing exactly what I feel when I’m going through.

    • Erica-

      Thank you for your comments. I’m glad you found my book helpful.

      I still struggle with my depression, and I sometimes go back to what I wrote as a note to myself in the difficult times. I came to realize my depression has a seasonal component, and this year particularly so. I watched the days shortening, the sun barely able to make it over the bluff across the street, and it seemed as though all the light drained from my spirit. I found myself again trying to sleep but with no success, and laying out all the ways that nihilism is a good and useful philosophy. Then I wake up and find your comment, on nearly the shortest and darkest day of the year. I remember there is hope, that as it always does, the sun will climb higher in the sky again. And there will be light again.

      So thank you for the hope you offer. And the reminder none of us are alone–that when we help each other, that help can come back to us just when we need it.

  3. As a long time sufferer of severe depression (11 years and counting) I very much look forward to reading your book. The more I read of your blog the more I realise what a true blessing it has been to find it. Much metta to you my friend.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I hope you find something useful in the book. From reading your blog, and seeing there your wisdom, honesty, and fearlessness, I am certain you have many insights into dealing with depression as well. Bows to you.

  4. Carol Keener says:

    Just discovered this wonderful book. My doctor and I finally decided we could back-off the anti-depressants,and this book has helped me move through those painful moments that return. But I’m getting through them. What a gift you gave us 18 years ago. Still relevant😊

  5. Chuck Turner says:

    I’m very much enjoying your book. VERY helpful, indeed. I wish the exercises at the end of each chapter were available on audio as it is sort of hard to follow the directions for meditating when you have to stop and read on as to what to do next.

    • Chuck–thank you. The link at the top of the page here, “Guided Meditations,” has recorded meditations similar to some of those in the book. They are from a weekly mindfulness group I lead. I will record some more over the next weeks, and add them on that link, since you’ve pointed out that would be helpful. Thanks again!
      Phil

  6. Mara says:

    I’m re-reading your book right now because it seems like there’s a strong parallel between depression and the on-going isolation due to a pandemic. I live in Texas and it feels dangerous to go out to take care of essentials, such as the bank, where employees taunt customers who wearing masks to try to stay safe. It’s an odd experience and one that makes one feel even more isolated, which feels an awful lot like depression, with the deepening isolation. I’m a psychologist and am reading your book to help my clients…and myself…through this.

    • Mara–Thank you for your comment. Even here in “liberal” Minnesota I get dismissive looks when I’m out with a mask. Which occurs to me is another parallel here between depression and the pandemic. Not only is it isolating, but there is also the judgment of others–as though it all is imagined, and one’s attempts at health are just foolish weakness. I’m grateful you and the people you work with find the book helpful.
      I am glad to meet you and see the work you are doing. I will be reading more of your blog, and your book as well!

      • Mara says:

        Thank you, Philip, for your reply! Yes! That is the feeling!!! I’m glad to meet you! Connecting with others on the same path makes it all so much brighter! And, I’d love for you to consider being on my radio show!! That would be wonderful! If you’re interested, let me know here or via e-mail. drmarakarpel@aol.com. Thanks!!

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