Deep Talk With Mr. Deep

Crawling, Psychotherapy and all that Jazz

A reputable yoga instructor screams at her close friend for disrupting her Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation time). Another girl wakes at 6 am to attend Osho active meditation only to return home and blast her boyfriend for not washing a mug. To be a yoga instructor or Osho meditator most certainly doesn’t require one to be perfect. In fact, in my last article I tried to make clear that as one deepens in their meditation, one may act in ways that may not always fit in to social norms. That said, I still made the point that as you align yourself with the way (tao), the fruits of the spirit such as kindness and love will flow through you, not as any sort of goal but as an overflow of what is naturally within.

We live in a world now where many in the west are flocking to eastern ideas. There are a myriad of yoga and meditation schools opening everywhere. The question must be asked, Can these techniques bring about the change that people really need in their life? I opened this article with a couple of examples to illustrate the reality of committed spiritual seekers who seem on some level, unable to bring their spiritual experiences to certain aspects of every day life. I know of people very close to me, who also meditate but are still terribly unhappy in their lives. I have often wondered where the role of psychotherapy role lies in respect to religion and philosophy.

I believe that, for some of us at least, working through our own psychological demons is necessary before the door to deeper spiritual pursuits can truly be opened.

Author Ken Wilber talks about different therapies and techniques for different levels of consciousness. His book ‘No Boundary’ documents an elaborate system of spiritual and emotional development and is worth the read.

Perhaps the greatest confusion is in distinguishing between emotional and spiritual aspects of consciousness. Essentially we are living in a world of unintentional spiritual cheating. A world where people are trying to walk before they can crawl. People are flocking to all kinds of self help books, gurus, retreats and so forth. Yet many, unknowingly, carry all sorts of emotional baggage with them. To make matters worse, rather than transcending their issues, they end up suppressing them. Such sublimation appears sooner or later as emotional dysfunction which may not be plain for them to see but is often obvious to others. What increases such suppression is the unconscious reality that another effort to save oneself has failed. This all may seem very judgmental so I shall turn to myself to help illustrate my point.

I was a Church Minister some years ago and quite successful, too. My duties included preaching, teaching, baptising, evangelising, counselling, training other leaders and everything else that comes with the job. Essentially, through my new confidence in the Bible, I lived to save others without realising the magnitude of my own lostness (Never underestimate one’s ability to deceive oneself, I say). It was psychotherapy that enabled a genuine rebirth rather than the metaphorical one I had through adult baptism. In all the years of church, it was on the therapist’s couch that I really faced my demons.

But it did not end there. As I became aware of the my own psychological issues, psychotherapy had done its work. Though still working through my problems, I was so much more ready for a more genuine spiritual path. There was an agility and freshness that allowed me to pursue spiritual matters with more vigour and better understanding.

Certain religious ideas were no longer triggers and disguises for my emotional issues but carried with them much deeper meanings for me. I will always remember Ken WIlber’s point when he confidently states that all religious texts carry with them exoteric and esoteric meaning. That is, a superficial meaning that appeals to the masses and a hidden meaning that is seen by a few. I hold psychotherapy responsible for deepening my spiritual journey and in some ways starting it, while making me appear to some religious folk as a blasphemer.

I would like to conclude with modern zen meditation master and psychotherapist Barry Magid’s honest admission that even some of his students get stuck on the path requiring special emotional attention through therapy.

Let’s meditate!

Johnny Deep is a well-known DJ in India.