Meditation and Psychotherapy

As mentioned in the previous post on July 11th, 2017, meditation can be helpful when the focus in psychotherapy includes or is primarily aimed at transcending the ego or the conventional sense of self.  Patients often have some familiarity with one or more forms of meditation and may have an existing practice when psychotherapy begins.  In that case, the therapist’s role is to try to understand the patient’s spiritual orientation, where they are on their path, and to support and strengthen their ongoing practice.  More frequently, I find that patients are initially curious about meditation and may have experimented some with it, but do not have a committed practice at the start of psychotherapy. Exploring the possibility of beginning a practice has often proven to be a very fruitful undertaking.

Of the many, many resources available on the practice of meditation, I have found two books to be especially helpful.  The first is “Awakening To The Sacred: Creating A Spiritual Life From Scratch” by Lama Surya Das (2000).  There is one chapter in this book that is particularly relevant here, titled “To Simplify Your Life, Simplify and Clarify Your Mind: Building and Deepening A Meditation Practice”.   The second book I would recommend is “The Way Of Liberation: A Practical Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment”, by Adyashanti (2012).  Here is a quote from this short book (under 50 pages) that illustrates what it is about meditation that makes it dovetail well with psychotherapy, “The silence and stillness of meditation fosters an inward stability, objectivity, non-attachment, and depth of understanding unknown to the conceptual mind”.   In other words, meditation quiets the self, and fosters transcendence of the mind.

In future posts, I will be going deeper into various types of meditation and the overlap they have with psychotherapy.

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