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Adaptation Practice: emotion, mindfulness and meditation

If you suffer with stress, anxiety, anger, depression or some other difficulty with how you feel and how your moods and feelings affect you, and want a safe and reliable way to deal with it: read on.

Adaptation Practice is a practical training of emotions pioneered by Dr Clive Sherlock in 1974. Working in psychiatry he realised that conventional ‘treatments’ are inadequate and often harmful. To find a better, safer and more effective way, he also studied and trained in Japanese Zen Buddhist practice. This gave the deep-rooted practical training now found in Adaptation Practice. It does not depend on drugs or talking endlessly about ourselves or our past. It depends on our effort to try to follow the simple instructions concerning our behaviour.

The quality of life

The quality of our life depends on how we feel. How we feel depends on the emotion that flares up in us and how we react to it. Emotion normally drives us in what we say, do and think. These have consequences that affect us and others now and in the future. We feel contented and satisfied or discontented and dissatisfied.

We can change the emotion itself by learning to control ourselves and not let the emotion control us.

Moods and feelingsbeautiful-1039725_640

Our moods and feelings are reflected in what we say, do and think. In fact these are expressions of underlying-emotion. Our reactions when upset or disturbed usually evoke more upsetting and disturbing moods and feelings in vicious cycles. By training in Adaptation Practice we can stop these vicious cycles.

No matter how reasonable and understandable our desires might be, the plain fact is that as long as we feel dissatisfied, emotion continues to flare up in us.

Normally, emotion motivates us and drives us to try harder but when our efforts are not successful more emotion flares up in us. When we cannot get rid of how we feel this turbo-charges the vicious cycles until we break down. And when there is no possibility of having what we want we are stuck, at an impasse, wanting what we cannot have. Emotion builds up a head of steam in us until we can’t bear it any more. We are taken over and lose control. We lose our temper, we shout, we cry, we run away or we shut down and withdraw. It can be hell.

sonchus-oleraceus-1340531_640You can change – you can adapt

We can all change. We can adapt ourselves by accepting that, at least on this occasion, at least for now, we cannot have what we want and we cannot avoid what we do not want. True acceptance is this letting go of our desire to have our way, at least for now. This is what Adaptation Practice trains us to do. It does not come naturally or easily to most of us: we have to learn to do it. There is no other way apart from avoiding our feelings or pretending life is not like this.

Underlying principles

Adaptation Practice is based on the universal law of cause and effect. If we click the switch the light comes on; if we do not click the switch the light does not come on. If we lose our temper or cry we upset ourselves and those around us. If we do not lose our temper or cry we do not upset anyone.

This is the natural principle underlying all human life and all science. It is the principle underlying Adaptation Practice and Buddhist practice. With suitable guided training we can learn to adapt to live in accord with the law of cause and effect, by working with the emotion when it flares up in us and by transforming it instead of being overwhelmed and driven by it, or trying to get rid of it.
Anyone can do this practice provided he or she is willing to try. Just as making an effort with exercise gradually strengthens the muscles, so making an effort with how we feel gradually strengthens us emotionally. The more effort we put into it the more we change. It is the trying that brings about the change.


Adaptation Practice is available one-to-one and in groups. It can be face-to-face or online by Skype, FaceTime or email or by telephone. If you would like to know more, or to book a free initial discussion, contact Dr Clive Sherlock here.

Adaptation Practice – London – Oxford – Global.

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