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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
32 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 FORUM JOHN WELWOOD • GRACE SCHIRESON • ANDREW HOLECEK I ’ve had my share of trouble in this life—abandonment, abuse, and trauma. Just three days old, I was separated from my birth mother and placed in a home where both of my adoptive parents died—my mother of cancer and my father of a heart attack. This left me homeless by ten and kicked me into survival overdrive. The main manifestation was anxiety-driven busyness. As I emerged from this childhood, I directed all of my energy into creating what I considered a “normal” life. I put my past in the past, as if it would stay, and tried to live like everyone else. I got an education, took up a career, married once, divorced, and then tried marriage again. Eventually I had a son and daughter. Though the details of my experience might seem unusual, most of us have our hearts broken by the time we are in our teens or twenties, if not sooner. And many of us are convinced, at some level, that if we just keep going on with our lives, we will outdistance our conditioning. At least that’s what I thought. While I tried a bit of therapy, I was quick to dismiss it as being too slow, too tedious, and too expensive. I turned to writing instead and over ten years wrote several memoirs about my struggles. This enabled me to reach some self- understanding, yet I did my writing alone, so there was no “other” to help me process the deepest patterns I could not see on my own. After my second marriage ended, I discovered meditation and Buddhism. As a practitioner with a teacher who lived in Tibet, it became easy to nurture my pattern of isolation and insulation and call it spiritual practice. In fact, one might say it was even encouraged. There were so many mantras to accumulate, so many practices to study, and so much time to spend alone. The more time alone, the better the student, right? Look at the greatest masters. Didn’t they spend years, even lifetimes, isolated in caves, forests, and alcoves? Eight years of practice later, I came to realize I hadn’t been practicing at all. I had been sitting, that was true, and sitting was a good start. At least I had formed a habit. But sitting in isolation wasn’t what I needed. Real practice, for me, began this year. A nearly fatal car accident forced me into several different forms of therapy: physical therapy, trauma therapy, and even energetic therapy (acupuncture). For the first time in my life, I was forced to exorcise traumas that lived in my tendons, muscles, and organs. More therapy—around loss, grief, and the nature of trauma—gave needed insight as well. With these new experiences, my meditation practice feels as if it is growing deeper and more sustainable roots. Buddhism is no longer a way to leave the world, and therapy—in its myriad forms—is not something to discount or separate from the process of awakening. Western psychology, energy healing, and Buddhism are gears that work together in synchronistic harmony—if I just relax, pay attention, and let it happen. INTRODUCTION BY JENNIFER LAUCK JENNIFER LAUCK practices Tibetan Buddhism in the Nyingma tradition and is the author of four memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Blackbird. Her most recent memoir, Found, was published by Seal Press in 2011. Heal the Self, Free the Self Bringing together Western psychology and Buddhism WWW.FLESHANDSTONE.COM