Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this website, my book, and the Community Education course I teach at the College of Marin, is to teach people how to live a vibrant, meaningful life through the cultivation of self-empowerment and self-efficacy. In this monthly Q&A column, I post questions from students and from people who attend my presentations along with my answers.

Here is this month’s question:

QUESTION: What is MBEP and why did you develop it?

ANSWER: In September, 2016, I introduced the Mind-Body Empowerment Practice, abbreviated as MBEP. Over the years, people have often told me they “couldn’t meditate,” yet, many of these people had daily practices in various forms of yoga or martial arts, to which they were very committed. I used to challenge them by saying: “It is unlikely that you are incapable of sitting. More likely, you are choosing not to do sitting meditation.” When they often told me that they practiced being very present during the time they set aside each day for their particular physical form of practice, my reply was often something like: “It sounds like you are very committed to a physical form of concentration practice in your yoga or tai chi.” In effect, they had been practicing mindfulness all along and like most people, they mistakenly thought mindfulness practice meant formal sitting meditation. Pure vipassana or choiceless awareness is normally practiced sitting still and upright, but concentration practices may or may not include a formal sitting component.

MBEP is a very simple, physical practice that has been well received by people who prefer a physical practice over a sitting practice. Unlike yoga or tai chi, MBEP is simple enough to do throughout the day whenever you are walking anywhere, even in just walking across a room.

MBEP instructions: Whenever you are walking, even if walking only a few steps, put all your attention on:

  1. Maintaining a healthy posture
  2. Breathing diaphragmatically
  3. Putting your mind/attention in your lower abdomen
  4. Making your outbreaths longer than your inbreaths
  5. Returning your attention to these four things whenever you become aware that your mind is caught up in unproductive thoughts