Monkton’s Virden recognised for world- class volunteer work in Africa

Editor’s note: This article was contributed by Linda Anderson Krech, program director of the ToDo Institute in Monkton.
MONKTON — Phillip Virden has known his share of suffering. For many years he floundered, struggling with depression and bipolar disorder, not sure how to live the life he dreamed of living. But at age 57, he took the reins of his life with both hands and began figuring out how to enrich the lives of Kenyan children, a dream he had in his heart since the age of 10, when he became aware of Albert Schweitzer’s work in Africa.
And Virden was recently awarded $1,000 as the recipient of the ToDo Institute Scandiffio Award for Purposeful Living for his outstanding efforts to be a positive force in the world. The ToDo Institute is a 501(c)3 organization in Monkton that teaches a natural approach to mental wellness based on Japanese psychology.
“Through the teachings of Japanese psychology, as presented by the ToDo Institute,” said Virden, “I have been able to turn my life around and am now living a life where every day is sacred, my work has more meaning and focus, my family and friends are more important to me than ever before, and, I am 99 percent cured from the demon of depression.”
Virden raised $10,000 during a five-day climb up Mount Kenya, helped 325 students to receive their first pair of shoes, sponsored orphans so they can attend high school, and provided life-saving medication that was otherwise out of reach. He has climbed Mount Kenya to raise funds for the Makindu Children’s Centre and to help increase awareness regarding the AIDS/HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. And he taught for three months in a small Kenyan school.
Through Morita Therapy and Naikan, the two forms of Japanese psychology that Virden embraced, he learned to live a purpose-centered life, rather than a feeling-centered life.
“Many of us allow our feelings to sit in the driver’s seat,” explained Linda Anderson Krech, program director of the ToDo Institute. “We are too often driven by anxiety, depression, anger, fears or cravings. Given that our feelings are uncontrollable, a better strategy is to learn to coexist with those feelings, while allowing purpose to provide guidance in our lives.”
“I do not think I would be doing this work had it not been for the lessons I have embraced from the ToDo Institute,” reported Virden. “I am grateful to have stumbled upon material that has made such a difference in my life and, ultimately, in the lives of Kenyan children.”

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