Yeah, most Buddhist practice doesn't cover all bases to becoming fully human. There's a lot of blind spots ( as there are in every discipline ).Anders wrote: ↑Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:13 pmI have a goodly amount of interest in this field these days, given that I began psychotherapy studies last year. Given that our tradition is strongly focused on self-therapy, It's been very illuminating for my practise as well.
I am also finding at the moment, that there is stuff I need to unlearn from from years of Buddhist practise that have basically played right into the hand of the hangups I've carried from childhood to adulthood.
For example, same as therapists typically end up as therapists due to childhood issues necessitating the child to navigate the needs of the parent(s) to survive, it's becoming apparent to me (at least from the small sample size of me and the few others in our group who have meditation experience) that the drive towards meditation and a spiritual path is often rooted in a self-sufficiency learned from childhood lessons of abandonment and learning from a very young age that since your nearest ones will not meet your needs, you had to learn how to do so yourself. Of course, meditational practise can never fulfil the original loneliness and emotional need of having fulfilling relations and trust in others enough to rely on them for that, but it is perhaps a good example of the side effects being able to outweigh the original need.
And it has certainly been a convenient pattern for me that I learned in childhood that my needs were unimportant to others and that I need to make them invisible to give room to other people's emotional needs -> And then learning from Buddhism that my needs are fundamentally invalid anyway as they are rooted in ignorance; and aiming towards the image of the spiritually developed person having cleansed himself of such needs anyway and responding compassionately to the world without such interference. oops. Guess my attraction to certain branches of Buddhism (as opposed to tantra, for example) wasn't entirely coincidental.
That, combined with the fact that my childhood patterns of self-reliance revolved around a 'safe space' where I didn't have to relate and respond to the world around me (where childhood 'me' could just be 'me') has also illuminated some tendencies in my practise, showing that my habitual approach to practise is really very Hinayana - I naturally gravitate towards the 'transcendent', the aspect of awareness that is untouched by what is arising; "letting go" easily becomes "checking out". I instinctively dislike being in the present to the extent that it forces me to relate and respond to the world around me - Above all, it is an intensely private sphere for me. My instinctive body has had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards the notion that group practise has any real merit (it hasn't moved much, tbh) or that teachers could be anything more than an experienced external reviewer providing rational critical input (hi Meido ).
These are all patterns I've not been able to make meaningful contact with through my Buddhist practise, on the contrary have shaped my approach to practise(!). But have come to fore from less than a year of psychotherapeutic work.
My "detour" was and is the Alexander Technique. After years of sitting zazen I came to a place where, when I reached a certain level of relaxation, an enormous amount of fear came to the surface. So much that it caused me physical problems, especially in combination with the hours of deskwork I did for my dayjob.
I couldn't get an answer within Zen except for the advice to "sit through it", so I went shopping for a way which did have an answer. I had heard of the Alexander Technique through Chodo Cross of Shobogenzo translation fame, so I thought I'd have a look there. They did promise I could get to understand the root cause of my problems and prevent them, so that sounded good enough..
I realized I needed it so much, I decided to do the teacher training, which consists of 3 years of retraining your thinking with hands on guidance of a teacher so it can condition your nervous system to get more expansion in both length and width in the muscular system. It probably sound really strange, but it's the most revolutionary thing I've ever come across.
By teaching the nervous system to slowly release old maladaptive habits, mostly caused by fear, and heightening your awareness so you can prevent engaging in those habits again, you sort of become supple and free again like a child, in a grownup way.
For me, it put an end to my shyness and got me back to the sort of happiness you get when your habitual patterns of body and mind don't get in the way. Needless to say, it also didn't get rid of a lot of other stuff because of it's own blind spots. But hey, what can you do