Showing posts with label Psychological. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psychological. Show all posts

Integrating Spiritual and Psychological Dimensions

Here, we aim to have methods for overcoming the obstacles that hinder us from realizing our wise inner selves. We mix philosophical wisdom—particularly the Buddhist practice of mindfulness—with Western psychology's pragmatic wisdom. This mix makes full sense when you know that Buddhism is at its core a method of wise, ancient psychology and a preparation for awakening. But we also need the psychology of the present day, which is tailored to our moment, location, and way of life. Spirituality must engage with the peculiar challenges of our day in order to be valuable in our culture. It has to do with issues like rush hour traffic and complicated marriages, as well as mortgages and phone bills. As Zen instructor Charlotte Joko Beck so aptly put it, "chop wood, bear water" must be replaced with "making love, drive freeway." Mindfulness is the force that enables one to do so while still having an excellent point of touch for psychology. 

Spirituality and psychology also provide unique and useful ideas and methods of transformation that can assist us in our journey. Despite this, these two areas have remained largely unacquainted, if not hostile, with one another. Remember Gail, who was sad, to see why. She felt shocked to be in a psychologist's office as a Protestant minister. Despite the fact that she directed members of her church to counselling, she didn't believe she should be there herself. She was, after all, a spiritual leader. Her faith was supposed to provide everything she wanted, and she was supposed to be powerful. She felt like a failure as a Christian when she realized she needed support from a counsellor. However, she had been unable to work for much too many days recently. Finally, she had to confess to herself that she needed the human assistance that counselling could provide. As a result, she ended up in my office with a lot of ambivalence. 

Many religious and spiritually inclined people share Gail's thoughts, which may also take the form of skepticism and hostility toward psychology. They believe that they should not have to look into the divine for what they need, as if their religion is flawed if it could be aided in some manner by psychology or other human means. Gail, like many religious people, felt that these ideas hinder her progress. She couldn't become the caring person she desired until she could be more accepting of her own feelings of being less than loving at times. These emotions clashed with her responsibilities as a spiritual leader. She required the assistance of another person in order to learn to recognize and be present with these emotions. But once she did, once she could learn to accept the emotions she had previously denied, she was closer to being the person she desired. Religious and spiritual people aren't the only ones who are suspicious of other models. Psychologists and psychologists educated in the scientific psychology paradigm often believe that their method of learning about the world is the only one that is true, and that it should suffice on its own. Any behavioral psychologists have a tough-guy, "show-me" mentality. 

Any of these practitioners choose their occupation in part as a response to religion or a religious upbringing. Psychology and faith both have a tendency to be closed. Both may be suspicious of other forms of information. Both, though, have a lot to come. Spiritual individuals are vulnerable to "spiritual bypassing," as psychologist John Welwood describes it. This is an excuse to use your faith to escape the realities of life and postpone dealing with your struggles and concerns. It's an excuse to get a free pass in order to prevent problems. In the other hand, one of psychology's benefits is that it will assist us in confronting these issues. It will make us see that our motives aren't really as pure as we'd like to believe, and then help us become more whole and act more successfully from there. 

Religious and spiritual people may lose touch with their faith in everyday life, confining spiritual activity to special days and ceremonies, to the prayer cushion, scripture reading, or worship service. They may want to develop their life on a strong spiritual basis, but doing so may necessitate acknowledging and healing emotional and psychological wounds. Before attempting to better your neighbor, Christ taught that you should examine yourself. Before performing surgery on your neighbor's speck, you can clear the log from your own cheek. If people take this teaching seriously, the planet will be a much happier place. So how does one go about doing this? How do we see ourselves without distorting our actions and intentions to make us seem better than we are? How do we escape the fate of religious people like those we've just seen, who seem to be more difficult to be with now that they've been "spiritual" than they were before? Psychology is well equipped to assist with these issues, allowing us to have a greater understanding of ourselves through self-acceptance, allowing us to see the log with our own eyes. Psychology has since developed useful techniques for how to live and interact with others more effectively. 

The Buddha will praise psychology's verbal capabilities as a great way to put what he learned about skillful speaking into practice. Although psychology will provide us with resources and ideas, it cannot tell us what to do with them. To answer the "what for" question, one must go beyond empiricism and into the world of spirit. The best tools are useless if we don't know what we're building in the first place, just like our cars and planes will drive us faster and faster but provide no path or meaning. We take it for granted that we are divine creatures. It is who we are. There's more of us than meets the eye. The scientific point of view is useful and significant, but it can quickly flatten out on its own. Science truncates and limits us, making us two-dimensional in a multi-dimensional universe. We are so many more. We are not limited by the distance between our ears and to the years between our birth and death. And, since we are spiritual beings, there are limitations on what psychology can teach us, no matter how useful it is. There are encouraging signs that the line between science and faith is becoming less static. 

Theoretical physicists can sound like Buddhists at times. Extreme behaviorism, which many people think of as a type of ultimate logical, theoretical approach to behavior psychology, ends up sounding oddly Buddhist. Many psychologists, therapists, and other counsellors nowadays respect both the metaphysical and empirical aspects of their work, and they no longer see the need to distinguish the two or justify one over the other. Many religious people, on the other hand, have come to respect psychiatry and counselling. For more than three decades, clergy have received basic counselling instruction. While religious people can always be wary of psychiatry, and clinicians may not often understand how to deal with people's faith, there is a trend toward greater acceptance. Scientists, including Edward O. Wilson in his fascinating book Consilience, may believe that all domains of experience are fundamentally reducible to science, while spiritual people would argue that the opposite is true. 

Although, in the end, we will realize that all of the various ways of knowing are one, and they are all facets of something greater than what we usually deem science or metaphysical. Both means of understanding are concerned with the same truth, and the distinction between theology and science is as arbitrary as the distinction between poetry and prose or the sea and the bay. We think it is important to be accessible to both the metaphysical side of life—all that the great spiritual teachings of the world can offer us—and psychology, which can help us confront ourselves and our lives with greater honesty and give us tools in which to create a well-grounded, decently human life—until we can come to see things in a more unified way.

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation and Healing here.