Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder: How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms

Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder: How Mindfulness and Neuroscience Can Help You Manage Your Bipolar Symptoms

In Mindfulness for Bipolar Disorder, psychiatrist and neuroscientist William R. Marchand provides an innovative, breakthrough program based in neuroscience and mindfulness practices to help you find relief from your bipolar symptoms.

If you have bipolar disorder, you may experience feelings of mania or high energy, followed by periods of depression and sadness. These unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels can make it extremely difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks—and ultimately reach your goals. Finding balance may be a daily struggle, even if you are on medication or in therapy. So, what else can you do to start feeling better?

Mindfulness—the act of present moment awareness—may be the missing puzzle piece in effectively treating your bipolar disorder. In the book, you will learn how to actively work through feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress in order to improve the quality of your life. Written by a prominent psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and mindfulness teacher who draws upon his research experience and personal mindfulness practice as a monk in the Soto Zen tradition, this book will provide you with the tools needed to get your symptoms under control.

If you’ve sought treatment for bipolar disorder but are still struggling with symptoms, mindfulness may be the missing piece to solving the bipolar puzzle and taking back your life. This book will help you get started right away.

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Table of Contents


  • Mindfulness meditation can help you live well with bipolar disorder
  • What is mindfulness meditation?
  • Benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice for bipolar disorder
  • Reasonable expectations for your mindfulness practice
  • How to use this book


Part 1: Getting ready to practice mindfulness

Chapter 1: Bipolar disorder and how mindfulness can help you recover

  • Talking about bipolar disorder
  • Bipolar mood episodes
  • Bipolar disorder over time
  • Conventional treatments for bipolar disorder
  • Evidence for the benefits of mindfulness and meditation for bipolar symptoms
  • What you can expect from your mindfulness practice?
  • What’s next?


Chapter 2: The neuroscience of bipolar disorder and how mindfulness can rewire your brain

  • Genetics cause the brain changes of bipolar disorder
  • Brain basics
  • How disruptions of brain function cause bipolar symptoms
  • Emotional symptoms of bipolar disorder
  • Problems with thinking in bipolar disorder
  • Autopilot-based thinking about the self
  • Where in the brain is autopilot?
  • Using information from this chapter in your mindfulness practice
  • How mindfulness rewires our brains
  • Your mindful brain
  • Moving on


Chapter 3: All about mindfulness and meditation      

  • Compassion for our bipolar selves
  • Mindful awareness is accepting of bipolar thoughts and feelings
  • Being present with bipolar thoughts and emotions
  • Meditation is the framework for living mindfully with bipolar disorder
  • Your eight-step mindfulness recovery plan for bipolar disorder
  • Let’s get started


Part 2: Your Mindfulness Recovery Plan

Chapter 4: Step 1 – Your daily meditation practice

  • The importance of regular practice in your bipolar recovery plan
  • Sitting meditation with focus on the breath is the foundation of your bipolar recovery plan
  • The meditation
  • Final thoughts


Chapter 5: Step 2 – The mindful minute – focus on bipolar depression

  • Bipolar depression and autopilot – John’s story
  • Recognizing the role of autopilot in bipolar depression
  • Mindful awareness can help you feel less depressed
  • Accepting reality as it is in the moment
  • Making choices from the clear view of mindful awareness
  • Depressive symptoms often fade away
  • Summary of how mindfulness helps depression
  • The mindful minute meditation for bipolar depression
  • Using the mindful minute
  • After the mindful minute
  • Your bipolar recovery toolbox


Chapter 6: Step 3 – Staying with unpleasant emotions – paying attention to anxiety.

  • Amy’s bipolar experience – constant anxiety
  • Our automatic response is to try to avoid pain
  • Resistance equals suffering
  • Staying present with anxiety
  • Sitting meditation with focus on an unpleasant emotion
  • Practicing with anxiety and other bipolar symptoms


Chapter 7: Step 4 – watching thoughts –thinking patterns and bipolar symptoms

  • How automatic thinking patterns develop
  • Recognizing our autopilot scripts
  • Trying to think painful emotions away
  • Habitual thinking patterns obscure our view of reality
  • Thoughts are just thoughts
  • Sitting meditation while watching thoughts
  • The autopilot thinking patterns of bipolar disorder


Chapter 8: Step 5 – working with desire – spotlight on mania

  • Desire is always with us
  • Why we need desire
  • Desire and discontent
  • Seeing desire as empty
  • The excessive desire of mania
  • Sitting meditation being present with desire


Chapter 9: Step 6 – aversion – being present with the irritability of bipolar disorder  

  • Aversion and anger
  • Anger can be helpful
  • Aversion and desire – the keys to dissatisfaction and unhappiness
  • Irritability is a common symptom of bipolar disorder
  • Sitting with anger


Chapter 10: Step 7 – thinking about the self.

  • Bipolar disorder and self-concept
  • Dissatisfaction with ourselves
  • Who am I anyway?
  • Liberation from suffering by accepting ourselves as we are
  • Just sitting with ourselves


Chapter 11: Step 8 – finding joy in your bipolar life

  • More about letting go of ideas about the self
  • Accepting reality moment-by-moment
  • The incredible gift of being bipolar
  • Compassion revisited
  • Sitting with joy
  • Living mindfully with bipolar disorder


Appendix 1: Additional meditations for your practice

Appendix 2: Resources for bipolar disorder



Mindfulness teaches us that pain is mandatory but suffering is optional. The aim of this book is to reduce the suffering for those afflicted with bipolar disorder.



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