Reply To: Psychotherapy with LH patients

  • Don Salmon

    June 19, 2023 at 11:29 am

    Thanks Mike,

    Now, how do we transition back to therapy?

    I’ve spent most of my life (since the mid 70s, at least) looking at the connection between what Sri Aurobindo envisioned and how it relates to psychology in general, and therapy in particular.

    So a radical difference between anything I’ve found in Buddhism or in any aspect of the traditional Indian OR Western (or indigenous) spirituality, is the dynamic evolutionary view. (wait, this will get back to therapy, I promise:>))

    There is, as far as I’ve been able to see over the decades, something everyone I’ve ever met and asked – without exception – knows and feels. St. Paul expressed it in the words, “All of creation is yearning for the return of the Christ.”

    The ancient Vedas (Lucy, you may be familiar with this term) spoke of the Agni – the fire – in our hearts. Ayurveda also speaks of Agni in the belly as crucial for digestion, but in a symbolic way, you could say the entire modern era has lost touch with this Divine Fire, the fire which Darwin vaguely (as “through a glass darkly”) glimpsed, but only understood it in terms of scientific materialism.

    Sri Aurobindo saw the present era as a “cauldron of Medea,” in which all the ideas and possibilities and challenges of the past several thousand years are being thrown together, creating more and more conflict and challenges. You can bring this right up to the crisis of depression and anxiety in teens, the increasing sense of drivenness and tension throughout the world, as time itself speeds up.

    All of this is calling us to through our desires and fears into that Fire deep within our Hearts (beyond both hemispheres) and to give ourselves to that evolutionary impulse (I don’t use these words when I’ve invited patients to look within and find what their deepest yearning is).

    Spirituality itself appears to be taking a new turn, away from several thousand years of renunciation of the world (Zen and Sufism and some Tantric schools being somewhat of an exception, though liberation, rather than transformation and Divinization, still being the ultimate aim). In the integral vision, the earth as a whole, the entire human population, is being called on to find that which is beyond our ordinary selves and to open to this Divine evolutionary impulse and allow it to transform us all.

    if it sounds Utopian, it’s actually quite the opposite. Without a sense of profound equanimity, infinite contentment, stillness, peace, vast Silence and spaciousness, we can’t truly let go. So even Eckhart Tolle’s simple practice of Presence (the “now” which is not the present moment – a Left Hemisphere take on things – but the Eternal Now) is a powerful assist to this evolutionary dynamic.

    Sorry, I was hoping to put it even in simpler language. I will often ask patients if they can think of times in their lives of utter contentment – playing sports or dancing or walking in nature or talking with a dear friend. I’ve never found one who didn’t know what this was. And most “get it” when invited to bring their attention to that sense of contentment “right now.”

    AND, even further, without any intellectual discussion, somewhat less often but still quite a few (the less intellectual the better:>)) can feel “something” of some kind of dynamic energy, a subtle, bubbling happiness that impels them more toward acts of kindness and care and love.

    This seems to be the most powerful foundation for radical psychological transformation. When we can open our hearts, drop our mental stories, and feel that Fire in the belly, so to speak, and allow it to express itself through us in kind words, wise actions, caring, empathic, loving connections, it opens up a possibility for radical transformation without the need to define it too carefully.