Buddha Spirit

Buddhapadipa

By Will

They say when you leave therapy, you start therapy. Soon after leaving therapy over a year ago, I started a new daily spiritual practice with a yogi, and was taught Hindu meditation, and also learned about energy located in the body-mind. Soon after this I felt drawn towards a local Thai buddhist temple, and began to practice traditional buddhist meditation, and studied the buddhist path or dharma. I felt that I had come home. The concepts of conditioning and attatchment in buddhist psychology were also fundamental in psychotherapy, inasmuch as they were basically saying the same thing. This new connection expanded on my ten years of psychotherapy practice as both are based on the natural law applied to the problem of human suffering. I was discovering more about my own path and a method or practice to bring me closer to my own reality and truth.

The next six months were spent meditating, studying and practising mindfulness and the buddhist path. Very quickly I noticed that I was happier, not indulging in short term pleasures, but longer term intentions of loving kindness towards myself and other beings. A light had been switched on inside me and I felt I had a life of purpose. Then, out of the blue and after 6 years of celibacy, I met someone – Or you could say our ego’s recognised each other. Immediately, we set sail on a passionate and lustful relationship which was exiting and fresh. Shortly after our relationship began, I attended a four day silent satsang with Mooji, and as if I was mean’t to hear it at that exact moment, he spoke about relationships and spirituality. I do not remember his exact words but he said something like; just as the true self begins to be recognised the ego embarks on a forceful attempt to sabotage this awareness by introducing it’s trump card – A relationship. Looking back my instinct was aware of this at the start of the relationship, but very subtly the ego managed to convince me otherwise, in a slow and subtle contamination of delusion in the mind.

Buddha said; Of all the worldly passions lust is the most intense. Our relationship was intense and tested both my partner and myself to breaking point. Vulnerability, power, dishonesty and continuous drama and reinnactments of past conditions, were draining us both of vital life energy, and sabotaging our personal inner peace and freedom. Both our wounds embound themselves in each other. Often I felt engulfed and trapped and I missed my precious inner connection that was seemingly fading out bit by bit like dying flames of a fire.

Intimate relationships can enable us to recognise and welcome the powerful opportunity to awaken to our deeper nature. They can bring us face to face with our gods and demons forging brutal honesty, awareness and equanimity. My relationship brought me to new crossroads where I faced a pivotal choice. Do I hold onto wishful fantasies and grasp outdated story lines, driven by my ego, or do I use the difficulties in my relationship to awaken compassion, wisdom and a dedication to inner truth. One cannot know this, one must be this and acknowledge this deeply within ones heart. Our on and off relationship was like a very long meditation, where I lost the connection with my breath – but now I have come back to it. Watching it slowly rise and fall. A chance to start again. The most powerful agent of growth and transformation is something much more basic than any technique: A change of heart. My heart grieves the loss of my true self and my ego grieves the loss of his mistress. From darkness into light, we behold the gift of peace.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ~ R. M. Rilke

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Genuine Transformation

By Will

Two months ago I had my last session of psychotherapy. After 5 years of regular analysis there was a deep reluctance to let go and to move on. We had been through so much together. The last few sessions were both awkward and anxiety producing but an ever growing part of me was becoming aware of my desire to embrace my own personal inner calling. Although I had discovered so much about myself during analysis, I needed to emancipate myself from this mental duality with my therapist and work alone.

Going it alone reminded me of an experience I had when I was 12 years old. I was hiking on the moors with a boy scout group on a survival exercise. We were reaching the stage where a few of us would eventually have to depart from the leaders, and the rest of the pack, and camp on our own for 2 days and nights. I was both anxious and excited at the same time. As soon as we waved goodbye to the pack and went our own way, my eyes seemed to widen and I took on this new type of energy, I knew that I was solely responsible for myself and the other boys, and each step that I took after departing was mindful and steady as I realised that I had no-one to fall back on. I had a similar feeling after leaving analysis.

It is only you who can create awareness in yourself. A master, teacher or psychotherapist can help you to initiate the change you are seeking, but for genuine transformation, you must walk your own path. To start with we have to have enough of a ‘self’ to ‘help’, so initially walking our own path can be aided by a teacher of some kind. After therapy, I began to practice yoga and meditation once again. Almost every morning I would wake up and begin my practice without fail. I realised that my ego and my continuous self-talk, as well as a tendency to live in the past or future, were a evasive force and I needed to counter that peace breaker with something opposite, present and real. This daily practice also included mindfulness in many small ways. Many times during the day I would bring myself back to my breathing and the present moment. I knew that this was all I had to do and the future would work itself out. A new faith emerged from my practice and when I meditated I invited the dark thoughts and fears in to ask them what it is that I could do to to help.

An example of this practice happened when I was meditating about my son. I began psychotherapy after my son was born, and for the last 5 years I have been through a long and painful struggle in order to gain more access to him. I became aware while meditating that there was also a 5 year old boy in me that I needed contact with too. I spoke to that boy and asked him what I could do to help. He told me he had no-one to play with and that no-one cared for him so I held his hand and promised he would never be alone again. With this experience, I realised that I had a strong desire to save myself, in turn, by saving my son. My intention became clear after that, I knew what I had to do.

Only the moment you reject all help are you freed ~ Buddha

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Thinking, Feeling and Therapy

By Will

I want to leave therapy knowing that I have done the work. I want to leave having covered all the bases, spanning right back to my early childhood. I want to leave therapy blossoming, knowing that I understand myself so much more. This notion of mine is probably the reason why I haven’t left therapy and why I am now approaching 5 years with my current analyst. Part of ourselves can trap us in this search for perfection and complete understanding. How can we possibly know ourselves fully when we are continually changing. We cannot ever know ourselves fully, and searching for some kind of ‘completion of oneself’ is a form of controlling behaviour, as part of us is not willing to accept that life is chaotic. The mystery of life is acceptable as far as the heart is concerned, but the head will always try and think it’s way around the bumps and curves, and for the mind this constant thinking exercise will be never ending. You can’t blame the thinking mind for doing what it does as that is it’s job. You could say that all that is real happens in the heart, and all that is not happens in the mind. However, the mind has to think sometimes so that we can complete certain daily tasks and our heart may need to stay out of the way, especially living in Western society. A harmonious balance between both worlds feels correct.

My thinking and philosophical mind has certainly expanded and deepened over the last 5 years, and in my therapists words he has said; “You are an extremely creative thinker”. I left that particular session (thinking once again), that if I am a creative thinker, I must spend much of my time thinking and not feeling, which is what I tend to do. Thinking is very protective. Thinking can shroud our emotions and feelings like a non-porous membrane. An obvious example of this constant thinking is when we think of a person in our lives who is dear to us. We can all be guilty of attempting to work this person out by thinking about the thousands of possibilities they may be thinking or feeling. What is more important is how that person makes us feel. Once again the mind is trying to control things, it even attempts to control another’s thinking and feeling.

The reason I entered therapy in the first place is that I was lost. A part of me had overshadowed another part and I was out of balance, lop-sided and anxious. At that point in my life I needed some help and support and our therapeutic journey began. However, by staying with a therapist, teacher or master for a long while, on some level we are enabling the kind of self talk that got us into difficulties in the first place to continue. We are once again engaging in another pattern of reasoning and debate, focusing on our sad and bad issues. I am not saying that therapy is damaging or that it is not conducive for awareness and happiness. What I am saying is that too much of anything can be counter productive, and the difficult part of our therapeutic work is knowing when both the heart and mind need to move on and go it alone. Perhaps when we leave, that is where therapy really begins.

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Psychotherapy ~ I’m in Therapy

“I’m in Therapy” ~ Experimental Vol 2
Video and backing vocals by Will
Backing Track ~ Josh Garrels

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Beyond Words

A video about psychotherapy written and read by Will.

Illustration by Jack Hudson

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Obsession and Drive

By Will

There is a reason why many of us choose not to air our obsessions or sexual fantasies with others, and that is shame. We have convinced ourselves that our private and secret thoughts are unholy and unnatural, so we keep them stored away in a cool dark place, well away from our friends and even our partners. These restrictions are reinforced by our own society, as in some cultures our desires may be seen as perfectly ‘normal’. We may feel more comfortable sharing watered down versions of our desires with people close to us but often the raw and unedited versions lie under lock and key. These desires can seem alien to us as we may have no idea how our ‘perversions’ came about. Our fantasies origins come from our childhood, and not in the form they show themselves now, but in the form of a basic need that may or may not have been fulfilled, so a splitting of the self occurs and a fantasy or obsession is created.

Recently I was with my friends and their 2 year old child. When his parents gave each other a hug, the child responded by showing clear signs of being distraught, and said “Mummy no hug Daddy.” If we liken these basic needs and feelings of a child to small seeds that are planted when they are young, they can grow from feelings of jealousy and rage into sexual desires in adult life. However the fantasy plant does not grow straight but weaves and bends its way downwards, while simultaneously being fertilised by other experiences, with our parents or from other relationships. So later on as adults we may be left with a personal desire that seems strange and unfamiliar to us.

Freud and other psychoanalysts have spoken and written about this in great detail  but what I wanted to reflect on is what we can do if we find our fantasies or desires uncomfortable or destroying. Often if we find these uncomfortable they may become obsessional in their nature, and we tend to push them down even further, and by paradox, it energises them and makes them more powerful. By condemning your desires you repress them and they carry on growing inside of you in the basement of your being, deep in your unconscious, while part of you is prejudiced against them. So a war has been created inside of you and an enemy has more power when it is hidden. This is your obsession your desire, it is part of you and your history, it says something about your past, so pay attention to it without judgement. It is neither good or bad, so do not identify with it. Go deeply into it with self care and love, as the more you understand it the less it will feel unfamiliar to you, and the less it will force itself upon you.


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My Spiritual Path of Dreams

By Jenny Alexander

When people talk about dreams as spiritual experience, they usually seem to be thinking in terms of what Jung called ‘numinous’ dreams – that is, dreams which have an unmistakably spiritual quality, inspiring awe and wonder, and often bringing revelations.

These ‘big’ dreams do indeed feel like wonderful gifts from outside the self, and they stay vividly with you across the decades, lighting your life. But dreams which feel quite ordinary can also be a doorway to profound changes in consciousness.

For example, I once dreamt I was having coffee with my neighbour. I was fully aware that I was dreaming – lucidity is very common in experienced dreamers.

Normally, in lucid dreams, my waking ‘I’ might be there as an observer or commentator, and occasionally if I didn’t like the way things were going, I might intervene and change the action of the dream.

But this dream didn’t have any action at all. It didn’t have any narrative to distract me – I was just sitting there, drinking coffee, and I was bored. There was a silky cushion beside me, and I ran my hand absent-mindedly across it. I noticed how smooth the fabric felt; I ran my fingers along the hard ridge of the trim.

I thought, ‘Hold on a minute – this is a dream!’ Since nothing much else was going on, I went on testing the evidence of my senses and yes, I really could smell the coffee; I could feel the crumbly biscuit between my fingers and taste its light vanilla on my tongue. I could hear my neighbour’s voice, talking to me. I knew it was a dream, but it felt exactly the same as ‘real’ life.

When I woke up, I could feel the quilt resting lightly across my body; I could see the light from the gap in the curtains ribboning across it; I could hear my husband’s gentle breathing and smell the warmth of our two bodies. But now I knew that my mind could create a whole different reality which felt as real to my senses as this one. So the senses were unreliable witnesses, and waking life a reality no more substantial than the dream.

When you read back over old dream diaries, you will also find that seemingly ordinary dreams can be precisely predictive, and you may find so many of these that it’s impossible to dismiss them all as flukes and coincidences.

According to our normal understanding of time, it should not be possible to predict the future, but the experience of predictive dreaming shows irrefutably that it is.

So gradually, actively engaging with dreams can dissolve the narrow rational and materialistic viewpoint, through which we normally understand life. In the words of William Blake, ‘man has closed himself up, ’til he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’

The practical, experiential path of dreaming can lead to a falling away of ideas and illusions, and open you up to the mind-blowing reality. ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.’

Jenny Alexander is a successful children’s author www.jennyalexander.co.uk

She also teaches adults creative dreaming and writing. Her blog on the subject is called ‘Writing in the House of Dreams’ http://jenalexanderbooks.wordpress.com

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