• George Hofmann
    • George Hofmann created Practicing Mental Illness to teach people with affective disorders that there is more to getting well than medicine and therapy. Drawing on his own experience, training with leaders in mindfulness and meditation, and consultation with medical professionals, he developed a program to help people manage and overcome episodes of depression, mania and anxiety. His workshops have been presented to support groups, families and friends of those with mental illness, healthcare professionals, medical students, church groups and corporations. George also maintains the website and writes the blog Practicing Mental Illness. It promotes the therapies of meditation, movement and meaningful work.

      George writes the blog “Getting Older With Bipolar” on PsychCentral. The blog covers issues of aging and mental illness, current research in the field of mental health, and mindfulness and other adjunct therapies. He has also been asked to contribute a monthly post to the International Bipolar Foundation. The IBPF featured George in a video post on meditation and mental illness last year.

      His unique experience includes years of life dragged down by hospitalizations and suicide attempts while struggling to live with bipolar disorder 1. Periods of meteoric success were decimated by times of near poverty. People were hurt, a career was ruined, and money was squandered. Then George began to apply the methods taught through Practicing Mental Illness. As a result, he has lived since 2006 free of significant episodes of anxiety, depression or mania.

      He places a special emphasis on Christian meditation practices such as the Divine Office, Lectio Divina and centering prayer in his teaching.

      George is the author of Resilience: Handling Anxiety in a Time of Crisis from Changemakers Books. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, their daughter and two poorly behaved dogs.

Human Flourishing

Perhaps the best way to approach human flourishing is to visit a museum dedicated to civilizations’ demise.

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Practicing Mental Illness

Meditation, Movement and Meaningful Work to Manage Challenging Moods

Practicing Mental Illness is a guide to using meditation, movement and meaningful work to help manage affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Not a typical book on mindfulness, it acknowledges where mindfulness practices as taught today can be helpful, and where methods and teachings in popular mindfulness can be very damaging to people with mental illness.

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What I Learned From The Jews

Most years, sometime during the season of Lent, Jewish people observe Passover. I knew a little bit about it, but I learned a lot more at a friend’s son’s Bar Mitzva last week. The weekend of this Bar Mitzva included the Sabbath of the red heifer. I listened transfixed as the Rabbi spoke about it.

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Family, Faith and Therapy

I teach meditation as an adjunct therapy for mood disorders, and I get a surprising amount of pushback from a sizeable group of people. Many of these people have a strong faith in God and are skeptical of therapies that we in mental health see as only helpful.

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Religion and Bipolar Disorder

The influence and importance of religion on community and morality will always be apparent and easy to debate. The personal experience of the practitioner can never be so and must be taken on faith.

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We Need More Empathy

We must call on our faith to develop more than just understanding – we must practice empathy. In the words of Howard Thurman, “it is a grievous blunder to assume that understanding is always sympathetic.” Christ did not say, “understand your neighbor.” He said, “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

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Faith and Free Will

While you can choose to believe in anything, I think faith requires a little more structure. Something more rigid. Something with tradition and maybe even ritual. Something with, God forbid, rules. For a while the faith we choose, or make up, is dependent on the limits of our knowledge, culture and experience, so that faith, definitively chosen, or made up, limits our expression of free will as it imposes on us rules not to be violated.

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Dominion Over Creation and Climate Change

Out of the mouths of babes comes either curiosity and wonder or doubt and defiance. On either extreme the truth that emerges is always a question: “Why?”

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Meditation on Psalm 1

Can a person be both a progressive Christian and a political conservative?

The Psalm introduces, but barely describes, the way of the wicked vs. the way of the righteous. The psalmist surely sings of non-believers and believers, but today I think the division is appropriate for paths that begin with and defend different interpretations of the same Word. Can they possibly end up at the same place?

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Resilience: Handling Anxiety in a Time of Crisis

It’s a challenging time for people who experience anxiety, and even people who usually don’t experience it are finding their moods are getting the better of them. Anxiety hits hard and its symptoms are unmistakable, but sometimes in the rush and confusion of uncertainty we miss those symptoms until it’s too late.

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Reclaiming the Christian Meditation Tradition

Christianity has a long history of meditation that for many has been lost. All too often our faith is a series of bible stories and Sunday services and a notion of God taken for granted. Or we find we approach faith as an argument in which we pit ancient wisdom against post-enlightenment philosophy that insists that only things that are verifiably true have value.

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The Scorn of Those Who Are At Ease

I’ve been spending a lot of time with psalm 123 lately. The church I attend had a session on the theology of mental illness and this psalm speaks directly to the mindset behind the stigma that so many, like me, with serious mental illness confront.

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