The main purpose of this group is to help you become more present and more fully inhabit yourself, your body, your feelings and emotions, and your life. It will also help you develop spiritual focus and vision, and a larger sense of who you essentially are, so that you become more grounded in your deeper nature and live with greater awareness, authenticity, compassion, and flow.
The core idea behind this work is that all psychological problems are ultimately spiritual issues— symptoms of disconnection from our deeper nature. Conventional psychotherapy rarely addresses this disconnect from our being that is at the root of all emotional distress. Spiritual practices, on the other hand, often bypass, and thus fail to transform, the conditioned patterns and unconscious identities that arise from our personal histories.
Yet when we bring psychological and spiritual work together, then each approach can complement and enhance the other, creating a new synergy that increases the growth potentials in each. We then find that every emotional issue or difficulty provides its own kind of spiritual opportunity. It shows us where we are disconnected from ourselves, and thus becomes an entry-point for developing and embodying new resources that have been previously hidden. This is what I call psychological work in a spiritual context.
This group draws on four modes of learning that work together in a powerful way:
1) focused talks, which provide a framework for understanding the core issues, challenges, and methods of psychological and spiritual development;
2) psychospriritual work, drawing on individual reflection, work in pairs, or group practice to work on your personal, psychological issues in a larger spiritual context;
3) meditation practice, which helps free you from the compulsions and distortions of the conceptual mind and develop greater awareness; and
4) embodiment work, exploring the lived body as a gateway to presence.
This kind of teaching situation is particularly meaningful to me because I enjoy going into depth and seeing people grow and change over time— which always happens for those who stay with it. I also use this as an opportunity to present and work with material that is currently fresh and alive for me.
Particular areas of focus include:
• expanding your capacity for unconditional presence— meeting your experience fully and holding it in compassionate awareness, without judgment or reactivity;
• learning to track and work with your bodily-felt experience, and to distinguish your felt experiencing from stories, concepts, and judgments that alienate you from it;
• recognizing and loosening old identities and self-concepts from the past, which drive habitual compulsions and fears;
• relating to your fears, emotional difficulties, and projections as opportunities for self-inquiry and greater awakening;
• opening to your larger being, that greater presence and intelligence that lies beyond all concept and definition;
• bringing this larger being and awareness to bear on your wounds and habitual patterns;
• developing greater attunement to the subtle body as a doorway to presence;
• connecting and working with the energies and intelligence of the heart and belly;
• exploring the central role of love in personal and spiritual development;
• developing loving-kindness toward yourself and others;
• inhabiting the body and speaking from presence;
• bringing together major insights of Buddhist and Western psychology in a broad framework of psychospiritual development.
Some of the areas we have focused on in this group include: saying yes to what is; working with the fundamental no of avoidance and denial; realizing one's basic goodness and unconditional value; exploring the relationship between the personal and the suprapersonal; distinguishing mind and awareness; absolute and relative love; self-love; freeing onself from old identities and grievances; developing the capacity to receive; not losing oneself in relationship; being grounded in the body; and deepening one's experience of oneself.