Buddhist Psychology & Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy

Buddhist Psychology and Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy is a psycho-spiritual approach to deepen our states of stillness and presence and learn to bring these states into our everyday life. There are various theories of human psychology and principles of psychology that can be traced to the Buddha. Buddhist doctrine posits true happiness comes from inner peace and is achieved through mental training or meditation. Buddhist Psychotherapy is a process grounded in understanding the cause of suffering and offers a path to end suffering. This model is a comprehensive approach in dealing with human clinging and aversion that constructs suffering. The Buddha recognized things as they have come to be; the seen as the mere seen, the heard as the mere heard, the reflected as the mere reflected, the cognized as the mere cognized, and the convention as the mere convention. When we practice this teaching, we find that we are not identified with it, and when we don’t identify with it, we end suffering. Thus, we extend this attitude to all patterns in our lives. 

The philosophy of Buddhism is called the middle path. The middle path points to the extremes of Solipsism, a theory holding that the self is the only existent thing known as extreme egocentrism and Monism. This theory reduces all phenomena to one principle. The middle path teaches ethical practices, which potentially lead us to enlightenment. And away from the extremes of indulgence on one hand and asceticism on the other. We look at our relationship to these extremes and how they play out in our lives. 

The Buddha’s life exemplifies surrender of the fixed sense of self.

Buddha’s core teaching of anatta (not-self) is the doctrine of impermanence, everything in the universe changes, including humans. Anicca, on the other hand, refers to nothing in the universe is fixed. It follows that grasping to permanence is the cause of suffering. We exam the notion of clinging to the concept of being a substantive-conventional self. We discover what we cling to and let it go. Freedom replaces clinging when we let go of grasping to permanence. The Buddha’s life exemplifies surrender of the fixed sense of self.

When addressing the mysteries of life, the Buddha advanced the recognition of empirical causes and conditions to answer skepticism, doubt, perplexity, and speculation culminating in confusion. The practical knowledge of co-emergence of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors helps us increase self-knowledge, end confusion, minimize distress and emotional reactivity. It dispenses with doubt, etc. First, we create an awareness of body sensations, hedonic tones of our inner and outer experiences. These tones can be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral and trigger desire, anger, aversion, jealousy, and hatred. When we cling to these sensations, we unknowingly create addiction. When we avoid these tones, our resistance persists, causing more suffering. However, if we turn towards these conditions instead of avoiding them, they become the vehicle for healing. So we include them rather than seeing them as obstacles, and we don’t need to cling to or push away our experiences.

The overarching goal of contemplative psychotherapy is to grow self-awareness and discover the authentic self. During these sessions, we learn to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight. Contemplation calms the spirit and mind, relieves stress and worry. As a result, people improve their well-being, find purpose in their lives and see themselves as agents of creation to co-create reality through making mature choices. Ultimately, those choices consider all sentient beings. Thus, Buddhist Psychotherapy offers the potential for psychological transformation.

This modality can be used by everyone. You don’t have to be Buddhist to benefit.

“To undermine the power of negative emotions you first need to understand them. To understand them properly it must be observed. The best way to observe a powerful negative emotion is in the controlledĀ  laboratory of your own calmĀ abiding, thought, free mind.”

~ The 14TH Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche