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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
summer 2 0 1 7 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 65 What Meditation Can’t Cure M any Westerners, when they come to dharma practice, come looking for psychological healing—but this is not what meditation was designed to do. As meditation has become mainstream, it has been marketed as a way to address physical and emotional ailments as well as a way to improve performance at work, reduce stress, and rewire the brain. I’ve been a psychotherapist for nearly twenty-five years, working with meditators and non-meditators alike; I have also taught meditation in the Theravada tradition to stu- dents who could clearly benefit from therapy. I’ve seen firsthand the benefit of combining the two. I’ve also seen the pitfalls of thinking that meditation can resolve early psychological wounds—as powerful as meditation is, that kind of healing is not its purview. For that, we have psychotherapy. And when psychotherapy is undertaken in tandem with a meditation practice, it can be a powerful mix. In a 1989 article titled “Even the Best Meditators Have Old Wounds to Heal,” Jack Kornfield wrote, “For most people, meditation practice doesn’t ‘do it all.’ At best, it’s one important piece of a complex path of Meditation wasn’t designed to heal early psychological wounds, explains debra Flics. She cautions us not to look to it as a replacement for psychotherapy.