Psychotherapy and Spiritual Practice
“The best of modern therapy is much like a process of shared meditation, where therapist and client sit together, learning to pay close attention to those aspects and dimensions of the self that the client may be unable to touch on his or her own”
Jack Kornfeld, A Path with Heart
I am pretty sure my first yoga class and my first therapy visit happened in the same week. It was a very long time ago. I can’t say which was more important or which has had the most influence but I do know I am very grateful that they happened simultaneously. I imagine there was a ton of tears and a lot of sore muscles that week! As it turned out not that long after that first week I went on to both teach yoga (in the vinyasa/ashtanga yoga tradition) and then to become a psychotherapist. Clearly I think they both belong in one’s life to complement one another.
Yoga, meditation and spiritual practice that has you look inward CRACKS OPEN the heart in transformative ways. You start to see things differently. You become aware of your own vibration and how others affect you and how your words and behaviors affect them. You notice more about yourself and your thoughts. You become more aware of how your thoughts and feelings are interconnected. It is amazing and there is a great amount of joy. There are times when some of these uncovered feelings will also be painful. You may start to notice things you want to change or are no longer working for you. You may also start to become aware of long time patterns in relationships that are no longer serving you.
‘We may experience understanding and peace in meditation, but when we return to the problems of daily life or visit our families or even fall in love, suddenly old patterns of suffering, neurosis, attachment, paranoia, and delusion can be as strong as ever. We have to find ways to include all of these feelings with those feelings of joy we find in meditation” Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart
Adding Psychotherapy into the mix is a natural complement to your practice. To become the joy and the love that is your true nature you are going have to weed through some crap. For most of us there is a whole bunch of crap standing in the way of beauty that is our truest self. In the weeding you get to an understanding of who you really are.
What If you took away the stigma of therapy and it was redefined as a compliment to living a fuller more loving life? Sounds good right? We get to the mat and we focus as best as we can, we sit to meditate we examine the thoughts and we move past them. True acceptance of one’s self is not so easy. A relationship with a therapist allows you the chance to put all your thoughts and feelings into words. You get an opportunity to say them out loud and to see them dance across the screen. Being in the room with another person who is trained to listen, look underneath, unwind it and spin it. Good therapy is like taking that freestyle dance move you got going on and turning it into the same beauty and fluidity as Misty Copeland in Swan Lake.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to heal; first heal you and then heal the world. It’s not going to be easy it’s going to take discipline and work. You are going to un-script yourself and then rewrite it (maybe more than once) but every visit to the mat or to your seat and every hour spent with your therapist will be worth it. With that foundation you can do anything.
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