Four Giant Steps for Mankind

Variations of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, referred to by Jeffrey Schwartz as the Four Steps program, have been successfully used by practitioners to treat a wide range of conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, overeating, gambling, depression, sexual addiction and others. In essence, the program seeks to change the way people think about their thoughts. It rejects the materialist premise that “humans are essentially nothing more than fleshy computers spitting out the behavioral results of some inescapable neurogenetic program,” writes Schwartz. So how does it work?

The first step is to relabel the problem. Recognize obtrusive, unwanted thoughts or urges for what they are: false signals as opposed to valid ideas that warrant consideration or action.

Step two is to reattribute the unwanted thoughts to a flawed brain mechanism. Your thoughts don’t have to be you; you’re not a passive bystander.

The third step is to actively refocus your attention away from the wrong thoughts and concentrate on something positive or constructive.

Step four is to revalue the problematic thoughts: realize that they have no intrinsic value and no inherent power. As one of Schwartz’s patients put it, such thoughts are “toxic waste from my brain.”

In large part the program comes down to personal choice and effort, concepts that the materialist view rejects. Schwartz points out, “The teachings of faith have long railed against the perils of the materialist mind-set. . . . The science emerging with the new century tells us that we are not the children of matter alone, nor its slaves.”