awakened presence is knowing the actuality of experience

This textbook offers a uniquely modern Buddhist psychological understanding of mental health disorders through a scholarly, yet clinically useful presentation of Theravada, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhist teachings and practices. Written specifically for Western psychotherapeutic professionals, the book brings together traditional Buddhist theory and contemporary psychoneurobiosocial research. This in-depth exploration of Buddhist psychology includes complete instructions for psychotherapists in authentic, clinically appropriate Buddhist mindfulness and heartfulness practices and Buddhist psychological inquiry skills. The book also features interviews with an esteemed collection of Buddhist teachers, scholars, meditation researchers and Buddhist-inspired clinicians. While written primarily for clinicians, anyone interested in psychophysical well-being will benefit from the material in this book.

selected reviews

"Lisa Dale Miller’s book is an essential read for those seeking to separate mindfulness facts from mindless fictions and for all psychotherapists interested in using mindfulness techniques in practice...Miller’s book is a delightful, educative read that turns psychologists’ attention to the often overlooked theoretical underpinnings of our work, as well as a thought-provoking reminder to ponder the essential questions that are at the philosophical core of our practices. She offers the entire field of mental health an invaluable service."     APA PsycCRITIQUES

"This book is awesome. I have waited a long time for someone to articulate this at the level of resolution that you are doing referent to all the various dharma streams.Thank you for writing your groundbreaking book bringing the conversation about the classical Dharma world and its relationship to genuine mental health to this next level. I hope it is very widely read and studied.”     Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Effortless Mindfulness is the real deal! It skillfully provides the most comprehensive and authentic approach to integrating Buddhist teachings with contemporary therapeutic principles and the most relevant psychosocial and cognitive neurobiological research. From across schools of Buddhism and secular adaptations of mindfulness, Lisa Dale Miller is able to weave together the common threads that provide relevant theory on the nature of suffering and the methods of mental training that can lead to a sustainable healthy mind in the most practical way. Clinicians, scholars, and practitioners alike will find this book to be a valuable resource for his or her own personal journey and for the field of contemplative science.”     David R. Vago, PhD, Harvard Medical School

“Lisa Dale Miller has offered mental-health practitioners—and all those seeking to integrate basic wellbeing and happiness with the ancient and time-tested wisdom teachings in Buddha dharma—a clear, scholarly, and thoughtful approach to understanding the important and growing connection between the two. She addresses the important questions of what genuine mental health is and what practices best support it at many levels, drawing expertly from neuroscience, clinical practice methods, Buddhist philosophy and modern psychological theory. As a clinician, researcher and long-time meditator, she has a unique perspective in the quest to connect the dots between dharma and modern psychology.”    Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen teacher and author

"Western psychology has focused primarily on mindfulness as a technique for emotional healing. In this scholarly manual for clinicians, Lisa Dale Miller offers a more complete view of Buddhist psychology and mental health. Effortless Mindfulness reveals the understanding behind the technique of mindfulness and points to many more possibilities for further utilization and integration of Buddhist psychology in western clinical work. Any clinician interested in exploring Buddhist psychology in depth will be interested in this book."   Phillip Moffitt, author of Emotional Chaos to Clarity and Dancing with Lifefont

mind is like the sky

Distressful thoughts and emotions are like dark clouds obscuring the mind's innate clarity, tranquility, receptivity and responsiveness

Each time we recognize the utter transparency of thoughts and emotions, the clear sky of unbounded awareness shines through

When we learn to recognize and rest in the clarity of awareness, the liberative power of awakened presence is experienced

how is this accomplished in psychotherapy?

  • Be curious about the causes of suffering and non-suffering

    Suffering is not what feels bad and non-suffering is not what feels good. Non-suffering is knowing the actuality of inner and outer experience. This knowing liberates the suffering of false self-narratives and afflictive thoughts and feelings. While known self-narratives may offer comfort, these distorted inner stories prevent us from engaging joyfully and energetically in our lives. Being curious about suffering is the first step toward non-suffering

  • Explore actual experience as it arises, exists and ceases

    Willingness and curiosity are the engines of exploration and awareness is the vehicle of knowing things as they actually are. Though awareness is always available, most of us spend much of our waking moments unaware of here-and-now experience. When we deliberately attend to bodily experience or external objects or even mental contents, and then rest easily, yet firmly in the awareness of the flow of phenomena, cognitive-affective distress and physical agitation decreases.

  • know the veracity of sensory awareness

    Sensory consciousnesses (sound, sight, taste, touch, smell) and internal bodily sensing (interoception) provide refuge for an agitated psychophysical system. Awareness opens us to the immediacy of phenomena. As long as the mind remains embodied and vividly present, it is unable to generate narrative interpretations of experience. This means less moments of depressive, anxious, self-hating thoughts and feelings, and more moments of awakened presence.

  • Recognize the transparency of thoughts and emotions

    As afflictive thoughts and emotions fall away, their true nature—impermanent, transparent, mental phenomena—becomes apparent. This can be a shocking experience for a long-suffering psyche. The natural dissolution of something so feared, so loathed, so gripping seems incomprehensible. But actuality is like this: thoughts and emotions arise and pass away on their own; body sensations shift and release naturally. In the groundless ground of ‘just knowing’, self-delusion has nothing to hold on to.

  • Rest in the open clarity of pure awareness

    The inner freedom of resting in the mereness of phenomena brings an experiential vividness that is both ordinary and extraordinary. Awakened presence is the immediacy of ‘just knowing’, ‘just feeling’, ‘just being with’. All true insights about the causes of suffering and non-suffering spring forth from the innate luminosity of awareness. The more one chooses to rest the mind in the actuality of awakened presence, the greater intimacy one has with the boundless nature of the mind’s capacity to know.

  • Gain insights about self and world, and act skillfully

    Purposefully choosing awareness spontaneously potentiates the psyche’s ability to recognize narrative suffering and easily distinguish it from experiential non-suffering. We may learn many painful truths about how we cause or maintain inner and outer suffering; how we cling to unwarranted blame and hatred toward self, others, and our circumstances. Standing in the truth of uncomfortable insights takes courage. Acting upon these insights requires fearlessness and a dedication to wise, compassionate responsiveness.


Groundless Ground Podcast

  • Buddhism and Modernity: Panel 2
    Mangalam Research Center June 2015

    The role of transcendent dimensions of Buddhist practice and teachings in a disenchanted world. Lisa's talk starts at 8:22 in the video time sequence.

  • The Buddhist Psychology of Addiction

    This dharma talk was delivered at Marin Sangha on May 31, 2015. I was asked to talk about the Buddhist psychology of addiction. The talk covers quite a bit of ground including childhood trauma and its physiological and psychological role in teen/adult addiction. The talk also has instructions for landing in the aliveness of physicality as it is.

    download mp3
    iTunes Podcast

    Author talk on Liberation of Mind

    This talk focuses on how various schools of Buddhist philosophy/psychology conecptualize liberation of mind and how it might be interpreted and applied in modern psychotherapy.

    download mp3

  • Buddhist psychology-inspired Skill #1:
    Use the cause of distress as a vehicle for liberation from distress.

    I recount a dialogue with a patient that illustrates how to generate embodied presence and empowered choice-making by working directly with inherently false mental constructions about the future. (No identifying information is included in this material)

  • recorded interviews

    Ted Meissner interviews Lisa Present Moment Podcast

    M. David Green interviews Lisa Hack the Process Podcast

    Guy Macpherson interviews Lisa for the Trauma Therapist Project

    Serge Prengel interviews Lisa on the integration of Buddhist psychology and Somatic Experiencing

    David Van Nuys interviews Lisa on the clinical application of Buddhist psychology

lisa's upcoming events

Meditation and Dharma talk
Marin Sangha
March 10, 2019
September 22 and 29, 2019
San Rafael, CA

contact lisa
Call 408-357-3209 or email Lisa

Visit Lisa's website

Lisa Dale Miller, MA, LMFT, LPCC, SEP is licensed to practice psychotherapy in California, New York and Oregon. She is the creator of Awakened Presence Psychotherapy™ (APP) and specializes in mindfulness psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing therapy for the treatment of depression, anxiety, complex trauma, chronic pain, and relationship distress. She is the author of a highly regarded textbook on Buddhist psychology for mental health professionals, Effortless Mindfulness: Genuine mental health through awakened presence. Lisa is an outpatient clinician for the Veterans Administration San Jose and a teacher of Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) for addiction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depression relapse prevention, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Lisa presents at conferences and trains clinicians in the clinical applications of mindfulness and Buddhist psychology. She has been a yogic and Buddhist meditation practitioner for over four decades.

From 1982-2006, Lisa produced and exhibited provocative artwork focusing on social, political and spiritual themes. In January 2000, Lisa led an arts education project in Kosovo for CRS. That experience led her to pursue a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Though Lisa was on hiatus from producing art for several years, she has recently returned to art-making. Her artwork can be viewed online.

Disclaimer: The information on any area or page of this site is intended for information purposes only regarding an available clinical service. The diagnosis or treatment of any particular disorder by the information provided on this website, or the links referred to by this website, is not recommended, intended, nor implied. No therapeutic relationship exists between Lisa Dale Miller, LMFT, LPCC, SEP and individuals wishing to email or telephone her for information or to schedule an appointment. A therapeutic relationship, if appropriate, will be agreed upon in writing following an initial consultation. If a psychotherapy relationship is not possible, for whatever reason, appropriate referrals may be provided.

© 2019 Lisa Dale Miller, MA, LMFT, LPCC, SEP
All rights reserved