This week on the Be Here Now Network’s Guest Podcast Mark Epstein, M.D. examines the overlap between psychotherapy and meditation, looking at how we can use the Buddha’s own inner struggle as a model for our own.
Walking with Bare Attention (Opening) – Mark introduces his work which looks at how traditional Buddhist teachings and Western psychotherapy can complement and parallel each other. He discusses the aspect of mindfulness known as bare attention, the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception, and examines the way it transforms the way we relate to our experiences.
“One of the defining characteristics of mindfulness is that you learn to separate out the reverberations, or we might say the reactions, from the core sensory event. It is not that you stop all the reactions, but you know the reactions as reactions rather than being driven unconsciously by the reactions. So that if you find yourself acting in a state of agitation, for instance, you are able to hang back a little bit and see the impulses that are arising and treat them as just another object of meditation.”
The Healing Power of Attention (09:50) – We look at the role of that our quality of attention plays in our mental and physical health. Mark leads us in a unique meditation practice which aims to train our attention to be with internal and external stimulus as they come – without being swept away by them.
Embracing the Whole Experience (23:00) – Mark talks about our tendency to suppress our emotional experience. He looks at the ways meditation practice allows us to open more fully to all life has to offer.
The Trauma of Everyday Life (34:30) – Whether we realize it or not, most of us are carrying around some trauma with us. Mark looks at how these traumas work themselves into our consciousness. He shares the first chapter of his book The Trauma of Everyday Life which looks at the Buddha’s inner struggles and how we can use the stories of his life to model our own liberation.
“Most of us are carrying some kind of traumatic feeling, even if we don’t know where it comes from, but might have shame about it or pretend to ignore it. The Buddhist way is to acknowledge it and make use of the feelings in order to bring us to where that place of enlightenment is.”