But once again I must call upon the Power Of The Internet.
Maybe a month ago or so somebody posted something either in the comments section here or on Facebook with a link to an article about some issues that folks who do Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are facing. From what I recall of the article, the basic problem was that MBSR is being marketed to psychologists as an easy to master technique for helping their clients learn to manage stress. The difficulty is that some of those clients are finding they’re getting more stressed after doing the practice or that other psychological stuff is coming up for them. And the psychologists who are using the technique most often don’t know what to do about it when this happens. They don’t expect it.
The root problem is that while stress relief is one of the very common side-effects of meditation practice it is emphatically not what meditation practice is about. Meditation is not for relieving stress. People who have trained for long enough in the standard forms of meditation such as Zen or Vipassana and so forth know this. They’ve been through what the Christian mystics (who also meditate) call the “dark night of the soul” and have emerged from the other side. This is the point at which, in most traditions, one is allowed to start teaching others. It would be unheard of in the Zen tradition for someone who hasn’t experienced this dark side of the practice to be given permission to teach.
By calling this the “dark side” I do not mean to imply that meditation has long-term adverse or damaging effects. But in the short term it often allows a person to come into clearer contact with their own stress or their own less attractive aspects/desires/etc. and can thus be a bit (or a lot) disturbing. This will pass if it’s handled correctly by a good teacher or spiritual friend. But it happens to pretty much everyone who follows any meditative practice seriously. In fact I would say it is a necessary part of the process.
Anyway, I can’t find that article anymore and I really want to! I’ve tried every Google search I can think of and come up with nothing. And I’m certain I didn’t just dream I read this! At least I hope I didn’t…
If anyone knows what the article I’m referring to is, please email me at email@example.com. Thanks!
We have a winner! Jessie Bandur found the article. It’s at http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/the-refugees-of-mindfulness-rethinking-psychologys-experiment-with-meditation/
Thank you Jessie!
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If you’re in or near Ojai, California this coming Friday, December 6th, go see the documentary about me. You have to get your tickets in advance though! Here’s the link where you can buy them.
Dec. 12 we’ll show the documentary about me in Seattle, Washington. You gotta get your tickets in advance, though. Here’s the link!
Dec. 13 we’ll show the documentary about me in Portland, Oregon. Again, you gotta get your tickets in advance. Here’s the link!
I will be at all three screenings to do a Q&A afterwards and sign books and generally hang out with people.
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As usual, this blog and my being able to go to these film screenings are supported by your donations! Thank you!