Dear Mark,

My wife and I attended your Skillfully Aware workshop at Miraval last week. I have been working on my own awareness, and studying many guru’s over the past 10 years. I have also been trying to lead the education and transformation of a company with training in self-awareness practices. I must say that your simple 45-minute summary of mindfulness and meditation was the best short, to the point and clear presentation of the topic I have ever seen or read. So I ordered your program to learn more.

Stephen E. Macadam

President and CEO, EnPro Industries, Inc.—$1.5 Billion publicly traded company with 55 manufacturing facilities worldwide

People suffering from chronic stress-related problems now have a place to turn. Dr. Pirtle helps those he works with untie the hairball of these complex conditions with a truly mind-body approach. There’s no one else like him. He changes people’s lives with his knowledge, compassion, experience and gentle spirit.

Keith Arnold

Executive Vice President of Operations, Elements Behavioral Health

When Dr. Mark Pirtle explained his theories of “attentional fixation” and “skillful awareness” to me I was beyond excited, not only because I experienced the healing effects of them personally, but also because I realized that he had discovered an absolutely revolutionary and original theory, one which I think will bring about a paradigm shift in the way our society views and thinks about psychology and recovery.

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I can state this “fact” unequivocally and with absolute certainty because in writing my novel The Great Ideas I researched broadly, widely and deeply the histories of both Western and Eastern thought. And by breadth, width and depth I mean that I studied not only philosophy from the ancient eras to our contemporary time, but also the literature, arts, religion, mythology, science, history, psychology, social studies and culture of these periods.

ue to my studies, I am able to see the relations of Dr. Pirtle’s theories, not only to the new nexus of ideas evolving in neuroscience, from Edelman’s feedback loops to Damasio’s mapping of emotions and their relation to consciousness, but also how his ideas on fixation and awareness run as an underlying thread through the history of philosophy, literature, mythology and film as well. I will use literature as an illustrative example: Often, the hero or heroine is suffering from a fixation that is causing great trouble and/or ruining his or her life, as well as the lives of others surrounding them. This is dramatically clear in Ahab’s fixation on the white whale in Moby Dick. The outcome of the epic, novel or play (these themes run through Homer, Dante, the King Arthur legends, Shakespeare, Racine on up to Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway to name just a few) depends upon whether the character “recovers” from their “fixation” and arrives at a broader and higher “awareness” and thus a happy ending is achieved, or, if they remain in their fixated state or become more intensely fixated, the work ends in a tragedy, usually not only for the main character but also for the surrounding characters, families and society as a whole. And the great turning points in these works depend upon the path the hero takes – towards deeper fixations or an opening up and into a higher and wider awareness. This evolution from fixation to awareness can be seen in a broad array of films as well, from Casablanca to Gone With The Wind to The Wizard of Oz.

Just as Joseph Campbell’s theory of “the hero’s adventure” has been seen, studied, and, ultimately, used as a structure seeded through thought, mythology, literature and film, Dr. Pirtle’s theory works as an universal and deeply embedded theme throughout history and the human psyche as well. However, what is even more exciting, amazing and powerful is how Dr. Pirtle’s theories work in such life- changing ways on the practical and personal level in therapy and the empowerment of individuals in their struggles with pain and addictions, depression and other psychological and physical problems and ailments.

I can attest through my own personal experiences with Dr. Pirtle how his theories and practice have worked so quickly and dramatically to cure my stress-related illness. In fact, within a week, I was transferred from the pain program to the mood program at Sierra Tucson because my pain had so drastically reduced after my sessions with Dr. Pirtle. I had been suffering from what I thought was chronic pain, radiating from my neck down into both arms for about five years before I admitted myself to Sierra Tucson for treatment. My life had not only become very limited due to my constant pain, but I was also very worried about the number of pain pills I was taking on a daily basis, and wanted to lower that dosage myself, but was also being pressured to do so by my physician because of the government’s recent “crackdown” over the increase in “oxycodone addictions” that have been sky- rocketing in our country.

Before going to Sierra Tucson, I had tried three different physical therapy programs, several chiropractors and acupuncturists, as well as massage and various stretching, relaxation and meditation routines. Some of these modalities seemed to work initially, but all eventually failed. After working with Dr. Pirtle my pain has not only gone away; it has stayed away. This has been an absolutely life-changing experience for me. Before I met with Dr. Pirtle I had become a recluse, afraid to go out into the world because I was worried that any and all activities would aggravate and intensify my pain. Now I am pain-free and living a full life again. Therefore, I consider the theories and methods of Dr. Pirtle nothing short of miraculous.


Suzanne Cleminshaw

Author of The Great Ideas, a novel widely reviewed and acclaimed by major news publications and described as “destined to become a classic.” Shortlisted for the Whitbread Award, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world, her novel has also been translated into many languages. Dr. Cleminshaw’s short stories have been published internationally in anthologies and textbooks. Cleminshaw obtained her M.A. in Creative Writing from NYU, where she studied with E.L. Doctorow. After receiving her Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of East Anglia in England, where she worked with the Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, she is now listed as one of the top 200 graduates from that university.

I want to thank you for the most wonderful meditation course ever!!!! You are an amazing teacher, patient and kind, who taught me such valuable tools to manage my life. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of how my mind works.

From practicing on a daily basis, I realized a couple of days ago that my anxiety, depression, feelings of stress and fear have diminished significantly. Nothing external have changed in my life, instead I deal with issues as they arise more skillfully. Taking the emotional attachments out of the situation has allowed me to remain calm most of the time. I am aware now when my mental story telling starts up and am able to I catch myself quickly and stop. I might try to re-tell a story over and over, but each time it gets shorter! I continue to practice and look forward to sitting each and every day.

You are such a beautiful person and your teachings and being definitely kick started me to take the responsibility for healing my life and getting myself in gear! This truly is the best thing I’ve ever done and I am so grateful to you.

Brent H

In December of 1995, while playing for the Chicago Bulls, I injured my back. The pain radiated into my leg. Dr. Pirtle was able to provide me with a clear and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Soon after I saw him I was playing again. Later that year, with time running out, I took a pass from Michael Jordon and hit the shot that won the 1996 NBA Championship.

Steve Kerr

Five-time NBA World Champion and Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors

I just completed Dr. Mark Pirtle’s 6-week Skillfully Aware course. He clearly and simply outlines the workings of the brain/mind and how we get stuck in habitual mental and physical patterns. He then offered practical techniques that opened the way for me to change. We covered a lot of territory in a short period of time, and I am pleased to have gained valuable tools to assist me on my spiritual path. Mark is a superb teacher, compassionate, lively, humorous and candid in sharing his personal experiences on his own journey towards healing. I am grateful for what I have learned, what I can share with others, and how I can enhance my personal evolution. I highly recommend this workshop to friends and patients.

Linda Joy Stone


The necessary ingredient of entrepreneurship is a constant switch from macro to micro thinking. It requires living in present, past and future all at once. In order to maintain focus and effectively plan and problem solve, catching moments of attentional fixation is an essential ingredient. My work with Dr. Pirtle and understanding skillful awareness in an entirely different way has allowed for creative growth that I did not know was possible. I believe his work is valuable to all entrepreneurs, even vital for survival in an ever faster business world.

Cristina Burgess

Serial Entrepreneur

Mark’s Skillfully Aware program was a great program that truly did wonders for me! I was dealing with an addiction, chronic pain, and also a back injury, which according to my doctor, needed surgery. I had major anger issues, ADD, insomnia, anxiety, and depression before I met Mark. I put all of my effort and faith into following the Skillfully Aware program, and it really worked! Mark believed in me. He told me that I could heal without surgery and he was right! With the skills I learned from Mark’s program, I have been able to get off, and stay off, all of the pain pills, which I had been on for years. My entire life and my outlook on it changed in so many ways—all of them positive. The decision to take Mark’s Skillfully Aware program was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life!

Scott H

It’s been 3 years since we met each other! Can you believe it?? Still doing well, it’s been a year of progress for me. I’m moving just about everyday…I weighed 187 when we first met, I now weigh 125! I have no major complaints…Yes, I cope with the “fibro noise” on a daily basis, but I’ve gotten so much better at focusing on “other” things and pushing that fibro noise into the background. There are some days when it gets the better of me, but not often. I’m taking Savella…That’s it. Still no pain meds or benzos of any kind.

Jennifer J

Mark, I was so moved by the last class that I was just almost speechless. The way you brought it all together at the end was exquisite. I have a whole new sense of the world and my place in it. When I came to you it was because I heard “the call” in the form of your flier (through the global chant yahoo group.) My purpose was to get help with what I realized had become a sad and negative attitude about my physical condition. I was determined to do what was needed to help myself out of the hole I had dug for myself, but I also sensed that this was the beginning of a new phase in my life and had some excitement about that. I had no idea what a beautiful experience it would be. By the time the class was over, my attitude was adjusted and my new purpose was to practice just for the love of the experience. I can’t say that my practice is tidy and completely smooth, but there’s no sense of urgency about it now. In a sense it feels like part of me is already “there” and the rest of me just needs to get in line with it, which may take some time…… but like you said, what else do I need to do with my time?

Gayle Meadows

I have been meditating since the early ‘70’s. Years ago I spent time in India studying and practicing with meditation masters. I took Mark’s Skillfully Aware class and I must say, it enriched my practice. The best part for me was learning a simple language to describe the seemingly indescribable. Strange, but a few new words can make a big difference. Whether you are a beginner or long-time meditator, you’ll learn authentic meditation, but from a guy who understands the science behind it and can teach it in a way that is both simple and deep. If you’re considering taking Skillfully Aware, I highly recommend it.

Leigh Stivers

Many of my students use their practice to enrich their professional lives. This can certainly be said of Mark. He has combined his knowledge of the health sciences with insight meditation to create an innovative program for people suffering from all manner of stress-related problems he calls Skillfully Aware™. His understanding of mindfulness is both deep and subtle. His practice is the central focus of his life and he is devoted to helping others find their own way to health, clarity and peace.

Shinzen Young

Founder of Vipassana Support International

Within my rambling mind I’d been circling ‘the desert’ for years—searching for answers to the constant probing questions: ‘Who am I,’ ‘What is my purpose?’ ‘Where will I be in 5 years?’ ‘How can I support myself in these times of financial ebb?’. This perpetual rumination turned me into a workshop junkie. I looked outside myself, hoping to learn another way, a perspective that might help me solve my life’s challenges. In my quest, I have retreated with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle and so many others. Don’t get me wrong, they were all great, and I really enjoyed each and every experience; I learned a lot. Yet, I left each of these experiences with a sense that something was still unresolved. I had an idea of the peace they spoke of, but I didn’t know how to get there myself.

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I had almost given up. Then I received Mark’s Skillfully Aware email, which I almost deleted, not recognizing the sender. Then I remembered I’d heard Mark speak at Miraval Resort in Tucson. I thought I’d take a risk because the timing couldn’t have been more synchronistic. As is happened, that weekend I was driving from California to Texas, and happily passing through Tucson precisely within the time period for the workshop!

Mark’s holistic approach to examining ourselves is brilliant! From the very beginning, he offers exercises that are fun and insightful and put the whole group at ease. There were all levels of meditators within the group, as Mark assured us that the work would benefit beginners and even experienced meditators.

I found that I was able, in just a short weekend at Mark’s Skillfully Aware retreat, to attain the level of mental and emotional clarity that I’d been seeking. Mark’s expertise was evident as he deftly guided the group through entertaining and knowledgeable lectures, mixed in with periods of his unique approach to meditation. The time flew by, and I was able to leave with a deeper sense of awareness of my life, and myself. My frustration related to my life’s questions lifted.

I would whole heartedly recommend Mark’s Skillfully Aware programming to anyone who is interested in discovering “a way in” to the deeper levels of knowing oneself. I was able to incorporate his program into my daily life easily, and feel such comfort that I have his continued support.


Ellen Yeoman