Saturday, June 7, 2008

Psychology Today: The Buddha Goes to Therapy

How psychotherapy and meditation can help manage powerful emotions. A therapy session under the method of Zen Buddhism; Buddhist views on love.
By: Mark Epstein

A Buddhist psychiatrist who has been meditating for decades elegantly describes how psychotherapy and meditation can help us manage our most powerful emotions--and make us feel more alive and whole in the process.

"Stop trying to understand what you are feeling and just feel," my first meditation instructor told me. This instruction seemed insanely simple: the ability to just feel should come as naturally as the ability to breathe. Yet, in twenty-five years as a psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist, I have found that most of us have not learned how to be with our feelings without rushing to analyze them, change them, or escape them.

If we really want to live a full life, both the ancient tradition of Buddhism and the modern one of psychotherapy tell us that we must recover the capacity to feel. Avoiding emotions will only wall us off from our true selves--in fact, there can be no wholeness without an integration of feelings. Both traditions have discovered that the way to plumb the full depths of our emotional being is by letting ourselves go, by surrendering to who we really are. And both traditions understand that we need a state of reverie in order to know our emotions. Whether that reverie comes through meditation or the quiet holding space of therapy, it is always necessary.


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