Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in Death (7)

Thursday
Mar282019

Why You Need a Psychotherapist

The other day I was doing laundry and I overheard this conversation between a very perky person and a politely suffering person.

Perky: "Other than being sick, how are you?"
Suffering: "Ok I guess" 
Perky: "How's the puppy?"
Suffering: "The puppy died; we had to put him down."
Perky: "oh well, now you don't have to worry anymore."
Suffering: "still, it was sad."
Perky: "it's a tough decision but it was the right thing; how is your husband taking it?"
Suffering: "he was crying for days"
Perky: "how is he now, ok? are you getting a new one?"
Suffering: "I don't think so, no."

I suppose it continued in the same vein but fortunately, because I was finished loading the dryer, I escaped before tearing a giant hole in the social fabric of this public perky space.

Life is suffering, the Buddhists say, which is rough on perk, which nevertheless remains popular and pushy, like a big bully. If the bright side doesn’t close the exchange, the participants seem to feel that they’ll be stuck with the big bag of gloom. We want so much to cling to the idea that everything is fine, or everything is going to be fine.

This week my good friend died of brain cancer. Fortunately no one delivered the bright side, because the cycle of life and death is as bright as it needs to be. Grief is part of that because we are connected to each other. Grief is fine with me.

On the other hand, when Trump claims to be exonerated and accuses the FBI of treason, I really really want someone to give me the bright side. Things do not seem fine at all in the US of A, and I feel morose, and then everything I encounter is wrapped in sticky strands of morosity.

We need to share things with each other, and yet our responses to each other and to events are limited by our ability to tolerate complex emotion. Mr. Trump, for example, can only swing between "very very bad" and "tremendous." Perky person above is jammed on cheerful, and morose is jammed on morose, and humans are designed to mirror each other except when they are mad or morose themselves or fear being morose or when they are your mother or your husband or otherwise have their own interests to protect.

So, yeah, it really does help to have someone who has enough theory to keep them occupied so that they neither follow you into gloom nor invalidate your misery through excessive cheer. Maybe along the way you can so-called change your ways but I've come to feel that is not the most important thing. You might be ok just as you are, and we'll get through it together. 

 

Monday
Sep042017

Zen Practices that Help with Stuff

Coming home from the zen retreat, having realized the importance of non-conversational camaraderie, I was excited to try a new schedule that included working at a café. On the first day of this exciting new plan I worked efficiently in the morning, knowing my time was limited, then headed down to meditate at the Village Zendo, and then, then, my reward! I went to my favorite café, found an excellent spot, planted myself and my laptop, opened it with a deep sigh of anticipatory pleasure.  

Can you guess?  It was dead. I had no charger with me.  

Waves of disappointment and rage.  At what? At whom?  No target. I could either abandon my plan or park my stuff and walk 12 minutes back and forth to get the charger. So I walked, furious, thinking about how much time I had wasted. People and traffic lights were obstacles as I imagined how fast I could grab the charger and run back to where I should have been already.  

Fortunately the absurdity of all that alighted in my consciousness. Then I entered the fury, and the fury changed. I continued to feel anxious, and then I entered the anxiety, and the anxiety changed. Eventually, I made my way back to the café, and when I discovered that the outlet near my perfect table was dead, I just moved. No perfection, only movement and adaptation.  

These are some big things I've learned through my Zen studies.  

  • Enter here. Include emotion and everything else, without exception.
  • Let go of This so you can welcome This. Die with every breath.
  • Do it for the doing, not the goal, but don't forget the goal.

But there are also little things like: 

  • Settle in completely, even if you are only there for three minutes.
  • Clean up completely, even if you will get back to it soon.
  • Just enough is more satisfying than a bit too much.
  • Leave space between things, just enough to be able to roll a little paradox around on your tongue before you swallow.  

Now I'm having fun.  

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct022014

Demons and Death.  @clown

It's not all fun and games.  That ridiculous clown up there making us laugh has an inner life too, and sometimes it hurts.  In a profound and quite enjoyable workshop with master clown René Bazinet, the topic of demons popped up.  Rewarded for their failures, applauded for their most embarrassing moments, clowns are reinforced for roughly the opposite of what is normal behavior. For those who lap up attention and approval (are there really performers who don't?), such conditions can produce some mighty twisted stuff.  Amy G, photo by Ian DarsonSo in performances that invite intimacy and truth, we are sure to see clown innards

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Thursday
Jun282012

Life is Fantabulous

A montage to honor the courage it took to face death for a year.  The workshop "A Year to Live," based on Stephen Levine's book, was held at the NYC Village Zendo, guided by Roshi Enkyo O'Hara and Robert Chodo Campbell. 
 

Sunday
Jun032012

Baby Crone

Sure I thought the release was happening as I turned 40.  I don't care what people think, said I, boldly striding into the decade.  So I unleashed my creativity upon the world.  And then, after making the autobiographical Martyred Moms, I proceeded to suck up praise and criticism like a baby starving for milk.   Don't care? my ass!   Narcissism roared its head and I, helplessly it seemed, inflated and deflated according to the circumstances.  It wore me out.  Like a stone on a beach being polished by smashing up against the rocks.   Smash!  ahhh…  Smash!  ahhh…  see?

50 is Smash.  40 was playing around.  At 50, my life shows on my face.  At the movies, they ask me:  Senior or regular?   I can laugh but I  tell you it feels like a punch.  I'm in another category. 

Not that I was ever beautiful, but I certainly knew how to be eye-catching. Now They don't look at me that way.   If They look at me or talk to me at all, it's often because They need something from Mother--or even Granny. geez!  

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Tuesday
May082012

Bridges

Updated on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 10:16AM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

Let go…..Cleopatra.. said my dance teacher in response to my failure to connect a phrase.   Say what?!  said I, stalling for time. It's a Donkey Bridge, he clarified, let go of the arms, then Cleopatra to make a shape.   A memory device, a connector, so called because donkeys are supposedly too stupid to make it across the river any other way.   In Zen it is said: Every Ass can Pass.   Every one of us can get to the other side but we need the right bridge.  

Words can be a bridge to dance.  Dance can be a bridge to freedom.   Yoga to meditation or meditation to yoga.   The specter of death is a nifty bridge to a satisfying life.  

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Monday
May072012

Your Working Zone

I'm calling It the Working Zone, because of the clarity of its counterpoint--not working.  As in: this is not working!   Because you know when it's not  working, don't you?  You're burned out, or enraged, or stuck, or depressed, or freaking out with anxiety.  In that condition, nothing is more important than finding a way to lower the decibel level of the stress until we can work with it.  Go ahead and sweep that problem under the rug for now.   

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