With my background as a therapist there are times when I am struck by the similarities between Buddhist Thought and Certain Schools of Psychotherapy. Several authors have made a living integrating the two (two reputable and favorite authors are: Mark Epstein – author of “Mind Without a Thinker” and “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart” and John Welwood – author of “Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation“).
Outside of the fact that certain Zen practices such as sitting and paying attention to the breath, can decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and relax tense muscles – it can also have a concentrated effect on one’s ability to be with the “uncomfortable” – both during the sitting and afterwards with life in general.
For me, sitting and watching shit reveal itself as though I am watching actors on a stage – engrossed but not over-identified – has allowed me to be mindful in other areas of my life. This way of meditating enables me to be more equipped at being with the shit I step into during the times I’m not meditating. And trust me, my shoes can get pretty messy.
This making friends with my own shadow, outside of being a philosophical or spiritual practice, is also a psychologically therapeutic development – An evolution in my relationship with myself and with others.
A willingness to engage in this observation is perhaps one of the greatest acts of compassion you can give to yourself and therefore, all sentient beings.
The first time you sit with shit as it is thrown in your mind’s face, can be rather frightening. But sticking with the process has remarkable consequences in your personal development and evolution.
John Welwood puts it rather well in this succinct quote below:
If there is one thing I’ve learned in thirty years as a psychotherapist, it is this:
If you can let your experience happen, it will release its knots and unfold, leading to a deeper, more grounded experience of yourself. No matter how painful or scary your feelings appear to be, your willingness to engage with them draws forth your essential strength, leading in a more life-positive direction.
Source: Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, Page: 106