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About Douglas Baker, LICSW, RYT

My work in the human services started in 1984 as a volunteer in a Boston homeless shelter. It was quickly clear that I could hand out sandwiches but was otherwise unprepared to be of help. That led me to training and graduate school. Since then I’ve worked in many settings, but I learned the most during my time at Cambridge Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, and especially the psychiatric emergency room. The psych ER was a place where idealism about treating suffering people with dignity and compassion was central to the mission.

Douglas Baker, LICSW, RYT

Hospital work made clear how people were often both helped and hindered by diagnosis and medication. It naturally raised questions about other, less traditional ways to alleviate mental suffering. When a friend invited me to a meditation retreat, those questions were more personal, as I was shocked to experience chaos in my mind as I sat on a cushion for most of 5 days. It was a mess in there! But the teachings were hopeful, and spoke of clarity and peace of mind, which encouraged me to study yoga, meditation and Buddhist psychology. I have found more common sense and wisdom in the teachings of the contemplative traditions than all the theory I learned in formal classrooms. Meditation offers a very helpful model of the mind, in simple, direct terms.  It essentially teaches: “Okay, here’s how your mind works. And here’s how you can work with it.”

I continue to study meditation and yoga, and focus my private practice on integrating these wisdom traditions in counseling. They are not a magic cure, but the most direct route to self-understanding and empowerment I have found. They guide us to be at home in both body and mind. I will be eternally grateful for my yoga training at the Kripalu Center, and with Yoganand, a true yogi and source of much inspiration and wisdom. 

Recently I’ve had the good fortune to write about mindfulness and yoga. A first book, a practical, portable guide to walking meditation, was released in January 2017. It’s called Five Minute Mindfulness: Walking, from Quarto Publishing in London and the US.

I'm grateful to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit educational org that offers training for therapists and other health care providers on using mindfulness in therapeutic settings. To view our offerings, visit www.meditationandpsychotherapy.org   

Having experienced the power of time on retreat myself many times, I created Well Beings Retreats. I guide clients on individual counseling and mindfulness-based retreats, a unique and impactful opportunity to reflect, learn and practice new ways of being present. The service can support you in a crisis or at a life crossroads, or simply in a desire to truly drop in and go deep. Find out more at www.wellbeingsretreats.com.