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Psychotherapeutic factors of naturally occurring long-term meditation Lawrance, Scott 1992

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PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC FACTORS OF NATURALLY OCCURRING LONG-TERM MEDITATION by W. SCOTT LAWRANCE M.A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1986 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Counselling Psychology We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 1992 © William Scott Lawrance, 1992 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives, it is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Counselling Psychology The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date Oct. 2. 1992 DE-6 (2/88) Abstract Various forms of meditation are being used by an increasing number of people i n North America. Practiced both within the context of an overarching s p i r i t u a l path and as a s e l f -regulation strategy, meditation i s sometimes a supplement to t r a d i t i o n a l forms of psychotherapy. At other times, meditation, as part of a s p i r i t u a l p r a c t i c e , i s used as an alte r n a t i v e approach to mental health and well-being. A multiple case study research format i s used to understand the pattern of experience involved i n long-term meditation from the perspective of the meditators. Five meditators were interviewed for t h e i r accounts of t h e i r experience with meditation over a minimum of ten years. The interviews were organized into f i v e narrative accounts and summarized as a general account which i n turn revealed twelve common themes. The s t o r i e s take the form of a movement from a l i e n a t i o n and estrangement, through struggle and problem solving, toward an eventual consolidation of meaning and engagement with the world. This movement i s accomplished through the resolution of three major tasks: the c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the r e l a t i o n s h i p with the teacher; mastery of the techniques involved; and a cognitive r e s t r u c t u r i n g based upon the optimal re s o l u t i o n of the f i r s t two tasks. Theoretical implications of the study, such as various r e l a t i o n s h i p s between meditation and psychotherapy, are presented. F i n a l l y , the p r a c t i c a l implications of the study for general counselling, counselling with meditators, and counsellor growth are discussed. TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Acknowledgements v i i CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION General Topic 1 Rationale 7 Previous Investigations 14 Approach 18 Summary 21 CHAPTER II - LITERATURE REVIEW 22 Temporality and the Significance of Duration 25 Motivations, Expectations and Goals 28 Behavioural Approaches 30 Psychodynamic Theory 32 Humanist-existential Approaches 33 Transpersonal Psychology 35 Variables Involved i n Successful Outcome 49 Mechanisms Involved 51 Meditation and Life-Path Development 57 Summary 61 CHAPTER III - PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE 63 CHAPTER IV - METHODOLOGY 82 Research Question 82 Design 83 Research Steps 86 The r o l e of the Literature Review 87 The r o l e of Personal Perspective 89 Co-Researchers 89 Co-Researcher Descriptions 91 Interview Procedures 94 Construction of Accounts 98 Construction of A Common Account 101 Vali d a t i o n of Accounts 103 CHAPTER V - RESULTS 106 Dylan's Story 109 Augusta's Story 129 Hamish's Story 150 Jane's Story 167 Sid's Story 183 General Story 209 Questioning 209 Dislocat i o n and loss 210 Searching 212 Meeting with the teacher 215 Acceptance by the teacher 217 Struggle with the teachings 219 Experiences of success 221 Integration into meaningfulness of pra c t i c e 223 Confirmation 225 Connection with s e l f and others 227 Problem solving 229 Re-engagement with the world 235 Commentary 239 CHAPTER VI - DISCUSSION 249 Summary of Findings 249 Limitations of Study 253 Theoretical Implications 255 Temporality 256 Motivation and r e s u l t s of meditation 257 Teacher-student r e l a t i o n s h i p 260 Technical mastery 268 Cognitive restructuring 278 Life-path research 284 P r a c t i c a l Implications 286 1. As an adjunct to therapy 286 2. With p r a c t i t i o n e r s 290 3. Counsellor growth 292 Further Research 294 BIBLIOGRAPHY 297 APPENDIX ONE : Demographic Form 307 APPENDIX TWO : Interview Concerns 308 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There are many who deserve my gratitude and appreciation f o r t h e i r r o l e i n the completion of t h i s work. F i r s t and foremost, gratitude to Kalu Rinpoche, who opened the gate for me to the Buddha dharma, and to whom the entire work i s dedicated. Secondly, i t could not have reached completion without my wife, Dianne, who has been a source of unending support and wisdom, my children, Aaron, Suzanne, Kai, and Alwyn who have shown tremendous patience during these past years. Thank you to my parents. Barb and B i l l , who provided me with my foundations and who continue to believe i n me, despite the l a t e blooming (or perhaps because of i t . ) Thanks to my committee members. Dr. Marv Westwood, fr i e n d and mentor. Dr. Larry Cochran, "semantic warrior", and Dr. Michael Brownstein, who encouraged and nursed me through the process; to my Doctoral cohort of Henry, Pam, Derek, Louise, and Diane; to Dr. Doug Flemons, who f i r s t gave me courage to pursue t h i s topic; to Drs. John A l l a n , B i l l Borgen, and Ishu Ishiyama f o r t h e i r friendship and encouragement over the years; to my colleagues at Windermere Secondary, p a r t i c u l a r l y Marion, Donna, and Leo; to Chagdud Rinpoche and to Ken McLeod for t h e i r support and i n s i g h t f u l comments; and to a l l my Dharma brothers and s i s t e r s , e s p e c i a l l y my co-researchers (and t h e i r families) who gave so unstintingly of t h e i r time, honesty, and energy. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION General topic What i s the role of intensive and long-term meditation i n the mental health f i e l d ? Do people begin meditating to gain r e l i e f from p a r t i c u l a r types of personal problems just as others turn to mental health pr a c t i t i o n e r s ? What are the benefits, i f any, to one's c l i e n t s of such a practice? At the most elementary l e v e l , mental health may be r e a d i l y equated with pure and simple happiness. That a l l beings seek happiness and avoid s u f f e r i n g seems almost too obvious a fact to warrant st a t i n g . Nevertheless, the quest f o r happiness continues to motivate us even while i t s attainment seems to elude us. As aids on thi s quest, meditation and psychotherapy have been developed as just two of the many vehicles within the many d i f f e r e n t c u l t u r a l contexts that humans have created. Meditation, i n various forms, has been touted as everything from a great panacea for psychological d i s t r e s s and a path to Maslow's "peak experiences" and optimal well-being on one hand, to a recipe for "neurotic regressions to union with the breast" or intrauterine states, n a r c i s s i s t i c neurosis, or a r t i f i c i a l catatonia. An increasing number of individuals i s turning to some form of meditation, either as an adjunct to other forms of personal change or as a substitute f o r them. Katz and Rolde (19 81) suggest that despite apparent t h e o r e t i c a l contradictions among these systems, consumers are putting together t h e i r own "treatment packages" to s a t i s f y more of t h e i r f e l t needs. "In creating such a package t h e o r e t i c a l c o n f l i c t s are ignored, de-emphasized or reshaped into a more complementary pattern" (Katz and Rolde, 1981, p. 374) . Given t h i s s i t u a t i o n , counsellors and other mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s need a map to be able to understand not only the benefits and drawbacks of a long term regimen of meditation but also some t y p i c a l patterns of such long term pr a c t i c e . The aim of t h i s study i s to understand the pattern of experience involved i n meditation p r a c t i c e from the perspective of long term meditators. Before proceeding, i t may be useful at t h i s point to c l a r i f y a few terms. The word meditation has come to have a v a r i e t y of connotations. The meaning of the word varies according to the p a r t i c u l a r s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n involved, the context i n which i t i s applied, and the t r a n s l a t i o n system used, which i t s e l f involves a l l the complexities of cross-cultural understanding. In t h i s study, I w i l l be following Walsh's (1982) generic d e f i n i t i o n of meditation as "the conscious t r a i n i n g of attention aimed at modifying mental processes so as to e l i c i t enhanced states of consciousness and well-being" (p.77). Since the study w i l l be focused upon meditators who have been p r a c t i c i n g within a Buddhist t r a d i t i o n s (due to both researcher f a m i l i a r i t y with t h i s t r a d i t i o n and i n an e f f o r t to delimit c l e a r l y the degree of external v a l i d i t y of the study), some words on the nature of t h i s t r a d i t i o n may be i n order here. A l l schools of Buddhist meditation recognize the complementary processes of calming the mind (shamatha), on one hand, and developing insight into the nature of phenomena (vipassana), on the other. Calming the mind requires overcoming the contradictory tendencies of mental a g i t a t i o n and dullness. Insight i s developed through invest i g a t i o n of both s e l f (subject) and other (object) and r e l i e s upon both rat i o n a l / c o g n i t i v e and i n t u i t i v e / e x p e r i e n t i a l approaches. The goal of Buddhist practice i s to overcome s u f f e r i n g i n a l l i t s forms through the balanced development of wisdom and compassion. Of wisdom, the Dalai Lama (1984) states, "there are i n general many types of wisdom; the three main ones are conventional wisdom r e a l i z i n g the f i v e f i e l d s of knowledge, ultimate wisdom r e a l i z i n g the mode of subsistence of phenomena, and wisdom knowing how to help sentient beings. The main one ... i s the second, the wisdom r e a l i z i n g selflessness."(40) Of compassion, he affirms that "the main theme of Buddhism i s altruism based on compassion and love" (p. 32). In the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n , wisdom and compassion are p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y and e x p e r i e n t i a l l y complementary, interdependent and ultimately inseparable. The psychotherapeutic approach to personal change i s s i m i l a r l y rooted i n a philosophical and assumptive system, though i t s values may sometimes be i m p l i c i t rather than a r t i c u l a t e d . For example, some theory within the mental health f i e l d s t i l l seems to rest upon the Freudian bedrock assumption that humans inev i t a b l y s u f f e r from c o n f l i c t s inherent i n the human condition. (This recognition of the primacy of s u f f e r i n g i s shared with the Buddhist view but i s less o p t i m i s t i c as regards the ultimate outcome.) For example, i n the introduction to a recent report of the current theory and practice of psychotherapy, Bruno Bettelheim (1990) a r t i c u l a t e d the primary goal of therapy as being, "...to free the patient from having to s u f f e r from the unnecessary hardships of l i f e , so that he w i l l have the strength to cope successfully with the unavoidable hardships of l i f e . " Generally speaking, f o r the purposes of t h i s research, the d e f i n i t i o n of health w i l l follow that of the World Health Organization as adopted by Mental Health for Canadians ; S t r i k i n g A Balance (Turanski, 1988): "Health i s state of complete physical, mental and s o c i a l well-being and not merely the absence of disease...the a b i l i t y to l i v e harmoniously i n a changing t o t a l environment i s e s s e n t i a l . " (Turanski, 199 0, p.5). Counsellors and other mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s are involved i n community health care i n each of i t s three l e v e l s of app l i c a t i o n : prevention, treatment, and r e h a b i l i t a t i o n (Turanski, 1990) of mental health problems. While many psychotherapeutic paths have been developed which are purported to lead to these goals, the s t a r t i n g point of human su f f e r i n g and dis-ease and the goal of optimal well-being a l i k e are remarkably s i m i l a r to those posited by such s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n s as C h r i s t i a n i t y and Buddhism. The Dalai Lama (1984), from the perspective of Buddhism, uses a t r a d i t i o n a l medical analogy to describe the quest f o r well-being: "suffering i s l i k e an i l l n e s s ; the external and intern a l conditions that bring about the i l l n e s s are the sources of s u f f e r i n g . The state of cure from the i l l n e s s i s the cessation of s u f f e r i n g and of i t s causes. The medicine that cures the disease i s true paths." (22) Through in-depth exploration of the long-term meditation experience of Westerners, t h i s study w i l l contribute to the e f f o r t to understand the relevance that meditation practice may have f o r mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s and t h e i r c l i e n t s i n the quest f o r c o l l e c t i v e mental health and well-being. (The author assumes that the meaning and course of meditation practice within the Western s o c i o c u l t u r a l context may well be d i f f e r e n t from those which i t possesses i n the s o c i e t i e s i n which the practices originated.) The importance of the c u l t u r a l setting of t h i s study can be highlighted through reference to a recent a r t i c l e by Eugene Gendlin (1987). In "A Philosophical C r i t i q u e of Narcissism", he i s responding to a wide-spread disparagement of the so-called "Awareness Movement" (see, e.g., Lasch, 1979 ; Foucault, 1984) which includes the practice of meditation as well as psychotherapy, and views a l l such practices as forms of "narcissism". Gendlin suggests that such a sweeping generalization derives from an overvaluation of the ego as "the extant s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l order, imposed upon a purely i n d i v i d u a l chaotic body consisting of mere a u t i s t i c 'desires'." His c r i t i q u e leads through an argument i n favour of the enhancement of "experiential i n t r i c a c y " , the order of which emerges through a process of steps and i s not an already formed order that i s merely "discovered". Given that proponents of meditation as a mental health practice s t i l l struggle with arguments that i t i s e s s e n t i a l l y n a r c i s s i s t i c , the a r t i c l e i s suggestive of the ways i n which psychotherapy and meditation may f i n d a common ground and support each other as l i b e r a t o r y processes. Against the alienation, fragmentation and n i h i l i s m (Levin, 1987) of our time, these practices may well prove complementary, sharing "the process of growing beyond l i m i t e d views of s e l f towards a greater v i s i o n and r e a l i z a t i o n of what i t i s to be human." (Welwood, 1984, 63.) This exploratory study, i t i s hoped, w i l l be suggestive of such a complementarity. In the next section, the writer w i l l present reasons for considering meditation as a v i a b l e adjunct or al t e r n a t i v e therapeutic prac t i c e . Rationale for investigating the "psycho-therapeutic" e f f e c t s of a " s p i r i t u a l " practice More and more individuals i n Western society, eschewing t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r e l i g i o u s and mental health practices, are experimenting with a l t e r n a t i v e approaches to psychological well-being. Egan (1990, 1986, 1982) and others suggest that problem resolution and f u l f i l l m e n t of unused p o t e n t i a l are the s t a r t i n g point of the helping process. Over the past several decades, there has been a p r o l i f e r a t i o n of approaches such as twelve step groups and s p i r i t u a l approaches based on various meditations a l l purporting to o f f e r solutions to problems as well as enhancement of l i v i n g . Catalogues of in d i v i d u a l s and organizations o f f e r i n g to resolve and s a t i s f y these needs are available today i n most North American c i t i e s . A perusal of Vancouver's "Common Ground" provides an example of the f u l l panoply of psychotherapists, body therapists, channelers, s p i r i t u a l healers, psychics, and holy men who are competing on the mental health market. William Butler Yeats may well have presaged t h i s current s i t u a t i o n i n his poem of 1921, "The Second Coming": 'Things f a l l apart; the center cannot hold'. In t h i s age of paradigm clash, i n t e n s i f i e d c r o s s - c u l t u r a l in t e r a c t i o n , and widespread disillusionment with t r a d i t i o n a l s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l and economic forms, i t comes as l i t t l e surprise that the t r a d i t i o n a l reliance upon the s o c i a l l y sanctioned mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s (psychiatrists, psychologists) may be weakening. (Some research suggests that as many as 3 0% of a l l c l i e n t s do not return to a second v i s i t with counsellors and psychologists (Sue and Sue, 1990).) Katz and Rolde (1981) noted a trend among mental health consumers to prescribe t h e i r own customized combinations of therapy. They examined how t r a d i t i o n a l psychodynamic approaches to mental health could be combined with various a l t e r n a t i v e approaches. They argue that consumers of the various approaches make pragmatic decisions and combine e s s e n t i a l l y t h e o r e t i c a l l y incompatible systems i n an e f f o r t to evolve meaningful personal programs of change. They c a l l for research to determine the effectiveness of various "treatment packages" based on such variables as high and low involvement, sequence of involvement, and time scale of the approach. In l a t e r work, drawing on F i j i a n and IKung cultures, Katz (1982, 1986) develops a concept of healing as "a process of t r a n s i t i o n i n g toward meaning, balance, connectedness and wholeness". From the !Kung and F i j i a n data are extrapolated "models of psychological development education, and community, at whose crux are transformational experiences." What have been described elsewhere by Frank (19 74), Torrey (19 86) and others as al t e r n a t i v e mental health paradigms, (shamanism, etc) are here presented i n terms of a "t r a n s c u l t u r a l " model of community mental health. From t h i s perspective "health" i s informed and maintained v i a access to a transpersonal realm which i s then developed as a model of psychological development, guided by a transformational education and r e s u l t i n g i n a transformational, or "synergistic" community. (The work of Stanislav Grof (19 87, 1989) and his associates i n the area of " s p i r i t u a l emergency" - the reframing of psychopathology as a c r i s i s of personal or s p i r i t u a l transformation - i s p a r t i c u l a r l y relevant to t h i s s h i f t i n understanding.) Katz (19 82) suggests several general p r i n c i p l e s found i n the !Kung approach to transformation which he feels may be relevant to our own approaches to mental health and i l l n e s s which may be relevant for our question. 1) "Becoming a healer depends on an i n i t i a l transformation of consciousness, a new experience of r e a l i t y i n which the boundaries of s e l f become more permeable to an i n t e n s i f i e d contact with a transpersonal or s p i r i t u a l realm" (p. 301). 2) The experience of transfomnation does not remove the healers from t h e i r community. 3) This power i s developed as a service to the community. 4) The transformation sets i n process an inner development which does not change external status. 5) It i s q u a l i t i e s of heart, such as courage, which motivate the healers. 6) The s p e c i f i c r e s u l t s of a healing r i t u a l are secondary to i t s r o l e i n re-affirming the community's s e l f - h e a l i n g capacity. Torrey (1986) developed another t r a n s c u l t u r a l approach to mental health which may a i d i n understanding the path of meditation. He suggests that psychotherapy and such indigenous healing systems as shamanism share four common structures: a worldview shared by consumer and provider; personal q u a l i t i e s of the therapist; expectations of client/consumer; and emerging sense of mastery i n the c l i e n t . In his attempt to describe features common to a l l forms of psychotherapy and mental health practice, Frank (1974) also described four central elements: a p a r t i c u l a r type of rel a t i o n s h i p between patient and help-giver, including factors of confidence, social-sanction, caring and empathy; settings designated as places of healing which arouse the patient's expectations f o r help; an explanatory rationale or myth guiding assumptions about i l l n e s s , health, deviancy and normality, a l l of which permit the patient to make sense of his or her symptoms; and f i n a l l y , a set of procedures or tasks to be undertaken by the patient and care-giver. The c r o s s - c u l t u r a l studies which helped Frank i d e n t i f y these factors also led him to postulate commonalties underlying the potency of mental health practices. The four i d e n t i f i e d elements influence the patient i n f i v e i n t e r r e l a t e d ways: they provide new opportunities for both cognitive and expe r i e n t i a l learning; they enhance hope of r e l i e f ; they provide success experiences; they help overcome a l i e n a t i o n from others; and they arouse the patient emotionally. Katz, Torrey and Frank have thus attempted to systematize the consistent and relevant tr a n s c u l t u r a l factors i n mental health p r a c t i c e . In t h i s quest, they have been responding to a v a r i e t y of h i s t o r i c a l imperatives. It i s a quest which we s h a l l take up i n t h i s study. Given the large number of North Americans and Europeans now p r a c t i c i n g some form or another of meditation, we s t i l l lack any r e a l understanding of i t s place i n mental health p r a c t i c e . While the intere s t i n alte r n a t i v e approaches to mental health and well-being has been growing, mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s s t i l l lack a cohesive approach to working with the c l i e n t e l e who are either p r a c t i c i n g these a l t e r n a t i v e s or are interested i n t h e i r a p p l i c a b i l i t y to t h e i r own s i t u a t i o n . Despite the many studies exploring various aspects of the psycho-physiological processes involved i n meditation, there have been few focusing upon the meditator's experience of the process over time. As a re s u l t , p r a c t i t i o n e r s have been working primarily with a combination of t r a d i t i o n a l interpretations of the Eastern t r a d i t i o n s , anecdotal accounts, and speculation. There continues to be a need to c l a r i f y the experience of long-term meditators to f i n d out how and whether meditation might become a useful adjunct to, or substitute for, t r a d i t i o n a l counselling and psychotherapy. Before proceeding further, i t may be useful to consider previous approaches to meditation research. Previous investigations and research focus The most common topics i n academic meditation research have been i n the f i e l d of psychophysiological responses. Murphy and Donovan (1988), i n an excellent bibliography of s c i e n t i f i c studies of meditation, l i s t over 1000 entries, the vast majority concerned with such topics as respiration, oxygen consumption, heartbeat, blood pressure, and brain wave a c t i v i t y . Accordingly, much of previous research has been framed within the context of behavioural management, altered states and stress reduction (Shapiro, 1980; Shapiro and Walsh, 1984). From these perspectives, meditation has become a technique c l o s e l y a l l i e d with other " s e l f - r e g u l a t i o n " methods of the cognitive behaviourists. While the majority of studies taking t h i s approach support the benefits of meditation, the various practices have thus become la r g e l y decontextualized from both the s p i r i t u a l systems i n which they have been imbedded and communicated and also from the l i f e - w o r l d of the meditators themselves. Engler (1986) highlights t h i s problem s u c c i n c t l y : . . . i n being transplanted to the West, meditation has been l i f t e d out of i t s larger context of a culture permeated by Buddhist perspectives and values where i t i s also part of a t o t a l system of tr a i n i n g (bhavana) and a way of l i f e . When t h i s therapeutic context i s eliminated, meditation i s practiced as an i s o l a t e d technique, with disregard fo r many other important behavioural, motivational, intrapsychic and interpersonal factors such as rig h t l i v e l i h o o d , right action, right understanding and right intention. (29) While the i n s t i t u t i o n s and c u l t u r a l structures which support th i s h o l i s t i c approach are l a r g e l y absent i n the West, meditation as practiced nevertheless remains embedded i n complex contexts of meaning and s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n . These la r g e l y neglected factors deserve attention i f we are to f u l l y understand how long-term meditation can a c t u a l l y be of benefit. The tendency within both research and pra c t i c e to ignore these s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l contexts i s highlighted by the work of Bergin and Jensen (1990). They suggest that while the value system of mental health practioners minimizes the importance of c l i e n t s p i r i t u a l i t y , for up to two thirds of the population secular approaches to psychotherapy may represent an a l i e n values framework. "A majority of the population probably prefer an orient a t i o n to counseling and psychotherapy that i s sympathetic, or at least sensitive, to a s p i r i t u a l perspective...Thus, while professional opposition to a s p i r i t u a l framework i s s t i l l evident, i t i s hard to j u s t i f y . " (6) There has been l i m i t e d research on the mental health implications of naturally-occuring ( i . e . , non-experimental), value-oriented long-term practice of meditation i n the West. This study addresses the general question: "What role does long-term meditation play i n the psychological l i f e of the meditator?" To answer t h i s overarching question, i t w i l l be necessary to discover a means by which the experience of long-term, intensive meditation practice can be described and understood. Related questions a r i s e concerning the appropriateness of meditation as a substitute or adjunct for other techniques and methodologies f o r the maintenance or enhancement of mental health and well-being. While meditation has received increasing support as a technique of self-management for relaxation and stress-reduction, there has been a tendency to ignore the implications of the broader relationships between meditation, the p r a c t i t i o n e r ' s l i f e w o r l d , and the socio-c u l t u r a l environment as background. As Engler (19 86) and others have suggested, there may well be both negative and po s i t i v e r e s u l t s of ongoing practice. Largely because most studies have r e l i e d on short-term and experimental designs. current research has thus f a r been unable to understand and explain these disparate r e s u l t s . There i s therefore a need to extend the research i n new d i r e c t i o n s . Approach To gain a thorough des c r i p t i o n and understanding of the experience of long-term meditation practice, a combination of phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches w i l l be u t i l i z e d . Multiple case-studies w i l l be conducted to elucidate the experiences of a number of long-term meditators. The meaning of these case studies w i l l then be interpreted through the construction of a generalized story. The case study method i s distinguished from other research methodologies (Yin,1989) i n studying a contemporary phenomena within i t s r e a l - l i f e context, while remaining open to a wide range of variables, and permitting the in c l u s i o n of a broad range of data or evidence. This approach, i n contrast to an experimental design, enables a greater congruence with and f i d e l i t y to the phenomena. Each case becomes a lens permitting a range of views which i n turn can coalesce into a gest a l t or hologram of the phenomena. By s h i f t i n g the focus away from an is o l a t e d technique of meditation (of whatever variety) to the unfolding of a meditative way of l i f e over a number of years, i t becomes possible to understand more f u l l y and more rigorously the role that meditation might play i n the mental health f i e l d . The case h i s t o r y i t s e l f , as are other non-experimental designs (e.g., phenomenological, heirmeneutic) i s developed through a meditative or p r i m a r i l y r e f l e c t i v e stance. Data c o l l e c t i o n proceeds with questioning and l i s t e n i n g i n an e f f o r t to understand the experience or l i f e - w o r l d of the informant i n a l l i t s richness. The s i f t i n g through and analyzing of t h i s data i s s i m i l a r l y undertaken i n a s p i r i t of meditatively l i v i n g with i t . A r e f l e c t i v e questioning thus l i e s at the beginning of the case h i s t o r y and forms the connective web on which the f i n a l f a b r i c i s l a i d . This questioning d i f f e r s from the " c a l c u l a t i v e " approach (Heidegger, 1966) of positivism. If meditation i s merely, or primarily, a technique, which can be applied by anyone and which therefore leads to c e r t a i n pre-ordained r e s u l t s , then an experimental approach may be i n order. I f , however, meditation i s seen more as a creative attitude, "a growing awareness of what our existence i s a saying to and asking of us" (Batchelor, 1990), then our approach should perhaps mirror t h i s a t t i t u d e with as much f i d e l i t y as we can permit. If i t i s true, as Batchelor suggests, that "insight, wisdom, compassion and love a l l come from a source other than that of technical mastery", to r e l y on a methodology dependent upon manipulation of independent variables seems inappropriate. A d i f f e r e n t type or l e v e l of control i s c a l l e d for. "The core of a meditative attitude i s questioning i t s e l f . . . Meditative questioning enquires into no i n d i v i d u a l l y d i s c e r n i b l e d e t a i l of l i f e , but into the whole". (Batchelor, 1990, p.43) Interestingly, one of the world's great meditative t r a d i t i o n s , that of Rinzai Zen, r e l i e s upon use of a case hi s t o r y approach. "The Chinese, with t h e i r combination of devotion to anti q u i t y and a scrupulous regard for recording history, compiled many c o l l e c t i o n s of anecdotes, sayings, and instructions that i l l u s t r a t e moments of sudden awakening. These episodes are referred to as 'public cases,' which i s the l i t e r a l meaning of the sometimes misunderstood term kung an, or i n Japanese pronunciation, 'koan'" (Batchelor, 1990, 43). Summary The approach i n t h i s study should provide a much needed exploration of the experience of naturally-occurring long term meditation. The recognition of the value-laden nature of such practice w i l l a s s i s t counsellors to remedy the " r e l i g i o s i t y gap" noted by Bergin (1988, 1990). "The pote n t i a l f o r a change i n the d i r e c t i o n of greater empathy for the r e l i g i o u s c l i e n t i s underscored by the s u r p r i s i n g l y s i g n i f i c a n t l e v e l s of unexpressed r e l i g i o s i t y that exists among mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s . . . Perhaps t h i s " s p i r i t u a l humanism" would add a valuable dimension to the therapeutic repetoire i f i t were more c l e a r l y expressed and overtly translated into p r a c t i c e " (p.7) (and perhaps into research, as well.) More generally, the author hopes to contribute to the theory, practice and research directions seminally suggested by Frank (1977). He recognized the p a r a l l e l s between the s c i e n t i f i c and the religio-magical approaches to psycho-therapy, which he referred to the "two faces of psycho-therapy", and suggested that "the ide a l psychotherapist of the future should be able to use methods of ei t h e r or both when appropriate, thereby enhancing his psychotherapeutic effectiveness." (1977, 6) CHAPTER TWO; LITERATURE REVIEW Chapter Two w i l l provide the reader with a framework for understanding the approach taken to understand the question raised i n the preceding chapter, namely "what i s the pattern of experience involved with long-term meditation?" Due to the great v a r i e t y of types of meditation, t h e i r associated purposes, goals and meanings, th i s framework covers much ground. An attempt w i l l be made to provide an extensive overview of the concerns which have so f a r been of most interes t to researchers studying the psychotherapeutic factors of meditation. These concerns and perspectives vary widely, depending upon one's therapeutic theory, one's view of human nature, one's understanding of s p i r i t u a l i t y , one's c u l t u r a l i d e n t i t y and one's own psychological awareness and development. The chapter w i l l review the main th e o r e t i c a l and research approaches to the phenomenon of meditation, with s p e c i a l attention paid to both the related issues of expectation and outcome and to the factors which make meditation e f f e c t i v e . To date, there have been well over a thousand a r t i c l e s and numerous books written on various aspects of the meditation from the perspective of Western psychological science. Many of these a r t i c l e s are framed by an assumption of paradigm clash. Walsh, et a l (1980) s i m i l a r l y suggest that "many tra d i t i o n s view consciousness as t h e i r central concern and make several claims that run counter to Western assumptions. These include statements that (1) our usual state of consciousness i s severely suboptimal, (2) that multiple states including the "higher" states e x i s t , (3) that these states are attainable through t r a i n i n g but, (4) that verbal communication about them i s necessarily l i m i t e d . " (p.37.) Meditation, generally, i s perceived and presented as representative of an Eastern, religio-magical, i n t u i t i v e and t r a d i t i o n a l world view. Conversely, psychology i s portrayed as a practice of the West, and as such as s c i e n t i f i c , r a t i o n a l and objective, transcending subjective and parochial values with universal truth. Some (e.g., Walsh, 1982) suggest that since phenomenological changes are the very raison d'etre of meditation, that the inherent positivism of the " s c i e n t i f i c method" i s i n i t s e l f an inadequate approach to the subject. Fortunately, the v a l i d i t y of "phenomenological" approaches i s being increasingly recognized within the research community (e.g., Polkinghorne, 1988) This issue w i l l be discussed further i n the chapter on methodology. In the opening chapter, we saw b r i e f l y how these contrasting paradigms have been framed and syntheses suggested by Torrey, Frank, Katz and others. As well, there have been many writers within the Western s c i e n t i f i c t r a d i t i o n who have been influenced by the insights a r i s i n g from within the "perennial philosophy" or wisdom t r a d i t i o n s of both the pr i m i t i v e and c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n s of the world. The most obvious representatives of these are Carl Jung and Roberto Assagolio within the depth psychological t r a d i t i o n but psychologists working within the cognitive and behavioural schools as well have been inspired by the systems proposed by the "consciousness d i s c i p l i n e s " . As noted i n Chapter One, meditation w i l l be defined as "the conscious t r a i n i n g of attention aimed at modifying mental processes so as to e l i c i t enhanced states of consciousness and well-being" (Walsh, 1982, 77) . Iii the following review, while the v a r i e t i e s of meditation under discussion w i l l be noted, l i t t l e attention w i l l be devoted to the r e l a t i o n s h i p between meditation type and outcome. To do so, while of great inte r e s t , would be of l i t t l e value i n what i s b a s i c a l l y exploratory research. Instead, i t i s more important at t h i s point to summarize the e x i s t i n g research to throw l i g h t upon the question of the patterns of experience of long-term meditation. Temporality and the si g n i f i c a n c e of duration As suggested i n Chapter One, there has been an emphasis upon short-term and experimental approaches to the study of meditation. While t h i s approach has enabled researchers to examine c e r t a i n aspects of the phenomenon with precision, i t also has ce r t a i n l i m i t a t i o n s . As mentioned previously, i t decontextualizes meditation from the l i f e context of the p r a c t i t i o n e r and i t has also l i m i t e d the time frame i n which meditation can be studied. The general importance of time i n personality change and development i s su c c i n c t l y described by Horowitz (19 86): Schemata are inner working models that contain information abstracted out of and generalized from e a r l i e r experiences. Mental development means elaborating e x i s t i n g schemata into new forms as well as nesting schemata into useful hierarchies. Memories are reworked i n the process, and d i f f e r e n t plans f o r self-expression and g r a t i f i c a t i o n or avoidance of threat, are formed. Time, whether i n psychotherapy or meditation, i s required f o r such personal reformulations. (p. v i i i . ) A major l i m i t a t i o n of the vast majority of meditation research i n the empirical t r a d i t i o n has been the time scale of the studies. Most experimental subjects have practiced amounts of meditation that would be considered miniscule by most meditative d i s c i p l i n e s . Studies can be found using durations as short as two weeks, during which time subjects may be meditating only half an hour a day or l e s s . The majority of studies seem to run f o r three to s i x months and i t i s rare to f i n d studies that extend for longer than two years. In contrast, i n the s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n s from which these meditatitive practices come, many years (or even lifetimes) of intensive practice are indicated f o r the attainment of optimal r e s u l t s . T r a d i t i o n a l l y , p r actice tends to be undertaken not f o r short term, self-regulatory, symptom r e l i e f goals, but rather with a motivation of transformation, growth or development. Meditation undertaken f o r growth and s e l f - transformation i s a long term a f f a i r . Thus, for long-term p r a c t i t i o n e r s there have often been l i f e - s t y l e changes (behavioural/ethical) concomitant with meditation which act as both support and r e s u l t of one's pr a c t i c e . For example, i n the Indian Buddhist t r a d i t i o n , a norm of twelve years of intensive practice was set by the enlightenment s t o r i e s of the 84 Mahasiddhas of the medieval period. This twelve year period subsequently became a model within the Vajrayana t r a d i t i o n which thereby d i f f e r e n t i a t e d i t s e l f from the Mahayana t r a d i t i o n which held that enlightenment could be gained only through practice over incal c u l a b l e lengths of time. The three-year t r a i n i n g retreats i n the Tibetan Buddhist t r a d i t i o n r e f l e c t a d i v i s i o n of t h i s o r i g i n a l twelve year period into a more managable set of four. This with the t r a d i t i o n a l view i s r e f l e c t e d i n the Dalai Lama's (1984) statement that, "differences are not seen at once, but over time. If we c u l t i v a t e the a l t r u i s t i c i ntention to become enlightened slowly and s t e a d i l y and, after five or ten years (emphasis author's) have passed, consider the changes that have occurred i n our way of thinking and actions, the results of our e f f o r t s -the improvement- w i l l be c l e a r l y d i s c e r n i b l e (143)". This approach to time may well r e f l e c t a profound c u l t u r a l difference. Not only i s there a very clear quantitative difference i n the time and energy committed to meditation, there i s some research that indicates that both culture and gender have an impact on time factors. Walsh (1981) and Engler (1983, 19 84) using Rorschach tests as a post test measure both suggest that Westerners are slower i n achieving meditative concentration (so c a l l e d "access states") than Asian p r a c t i t i o n e r s . Some of the Rorschach studies (Brown & Engler, 1986) suggest that rapid progress with meditation on the dimensions of personality growth and change ( t r a i t f actor change), and concomitant a l l e v i a t i o n of suffering, i s l i k e l y quite rare, i f i t i s even possible. "After three months of continuous intensive d a i l y practice, about half the Ss showed very l i t t l e change, at lea s t as defined i n terms of formal meditation. The other half achieved some prof i c i e n c y i n concentration. Only three perfected access concentration and began to have insights s i m i l a r to those described i n the c l a s s i c a l accounts of the insight series of meditations" (p. 216) . The time factor alone and the subsequent l i m i t a t i o n s posed by the experimental approach suggest the value of retrospective investigations despite t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s . Although confounded by problems of memory, history, demand ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s , etc., such approaches permit a more thorough exploration of the phenomenon. Motivations. extJectations and goals Individuals begin meditation for a v a r i e t y of reasons and with a range of expectations. Some begin for health reasons, to control uncomfortable l e v e l s of stress and anxiety, or to manage pain (Kabat-Zin, 1990). Even within the Asian t r a d i t i o n s , various motivations and goals were posited. For example, Kapleau (19 65) pointed out that there were f i v e d i f f e r e n t goals (and hence, types of practitioner) within the Zen t r a d i t i o n alone: improvement of physical or mental health; development of supernormal powers; i n d i v i d u a l l i b e r a t i o n ; l i b e r a t i o n of others; and coalescence of goal and path. The Japanese p s y c h i a t r i s t Kan'ichi Kishimoto (1985) suggested that therapy f o r neurosis must encompass each of f i v e dimensions of being human; four dimensions -physical, psychological, natural and s o c i a l - as objective, and s p i r i t u a l , as a subjective dimension. Wilber (19 77), one of the leading theor i s t s of the Transpersonal Psychology movement suggests that the goals of both meditation and psychotherapeutic practice can be categorized into three types: therapeutic, dealing with the healing of that which i s wounded; e x i s t e n t i a l , coming to terms with core and unavoidable facts of Being and Non-being, such as freedom and death; and s o t e r i o l o g i c a l , r e l a t i n g to salvation or l i b e r a t i o n from the su f f e r i n g and terrors of the reference points of the two preceding types. Not s u r p r i s i n g l y then, there have been.vastly d i f f e r i n g approaches to the understanding and a p p l i c a t i o n of meditation, any or a l l of which may have relevance to the experience of long-term meditation p r a c t i c e . From the viewpoint of some sectors of psychology, most notably the behavioural, the emphasis has been on the a l l e v i a t i o n of symptom and behavioural self-management. From others, such as humanistic and transpersonal psychology, there has been a greater emphasis on what Wilber has c a l l e d the e x i s t e n t i a l and s o t e r i o l o g i c a l goals. As well, the concepts and language of depth psychology, including psycho-analysis and object r e l a t i o n s , have been used by a number of researchers to understand the process and r e s u l t s of meditation. Behavioural approaches This i s possibly the area with which readers w i l l be most f a m i l i a r since i t represents some of both the e a r l i e s t and the most widely reported research. Researchers and therapists with a behavioural perspective have generally conceived of meditation as a " s e l f - r e g u l a t i o n strategy", related or analogous to such techniques as self-hypnosis, progressive relaxation and t h e i r applications to cognitive and behavioural change. From t h i s point of view, the goal i s to modify maladaptive behaviours and/or inculcate and enhance more adaptive ones. Research i n t h i s category f a l l s into areas which tend t r a d i t i o n a l l y to be treated with behavioural approaches: c l i n i c a l , health- and s t r e s s - r e l a t e d concerns, such as anxiety reduction (Delmonte, M.M., 1985; Girodo, 1974; Shapiro, 1976) and hypertension (Stone and De Leo, 1976); phobias (Boudreau, 1972; French and Tupin, 1974); drug and alcohol abuse (S h a f i i , Lavel, & Jaffe, 1975; Benson, 1969; Benson and Wallace, 19 72; Marlatt, et a l , 19 84; Shapiro & Z i f f e r b l a t t , 1976); and psychosomatic disorders (e.g., Woolfolk, 1975). Meditation i s deemed successful i f i t aids i n reducing the target behaviours. The evidence for success i n these areas varies i n v a l i d i t y . Shapiro (19 77) reviewed the research to date and found disparate r e s u l t s . The use of meditation f o r the treatment of hypertension seemed quite unequivocal, consistently i n d i c a t i n g "a reduction i n blood pressure i n the treatment group, a reduction i n the use of hypertensive medication, and a reduction i n the reports of somatic symptoms" (p. 63). P a r t l y as a res u l t of the s i m p l i c i t y of the dependent measure (blood pressure), the findings concerning treatment e f f e c t were r e l a t i v e l y c l e a r when compared with some of the research on substance abuse which r e l i e d p r i m a r i l y upon retrospective accounts and longitudinal designs. S i m i l a r l y unequivocal were the thirteen studies on fears, phobias, stress and tension management reviewed by Shapiro (19 77) as a l l the studies reported successful outcomes on the dependent variables used. This success i s generally at t r i b u t e d to the relaxation response as indicated by a v a r i e t y of physiological changes during meditation. Goleman (1971) suggested that a related but alternate mechanism was a form of global desensitization: that negative imagery and cognition surface during a state of relaxation, permitting both desentization to and reappraisal of the stimulus. Psychodynamic theory Psychoanalytically oriented therapy i n i t s various forms ( c l a s s i c a l Freudian, Jungian, object relations) i s organized i n large part around the concept of the unconscious. From thi s perspective, psychotherapy consists of uncovering repressed material and making i t accessible to consciousness i n order to strengthen the ego and enable i t to successfully mediate with r e a l i t y . Psychoanalytic approaches to meditation, when they have acknowledged any v a l i d i t y to meditation at a l l , have tended to regard i t i n terms of regressing and lowering defense mechanisms (Boals, 1978; Maupin, 1972; S h a f i i , 1973; Fromm, 1977), opening primary process thinking (Davidson, 1977; Fromm, 1981), and generally making unconscious material, including repressed memories, more accessible. As a r e s u l t , some researchers suggest that meditation i s contraindicated f o r some people. For example, Amodeo (1982) discusses the case of a woman who experienced d i s s o c i a t i o n and fear during vipassana meditation. To account f o r these symptoms, he suggests that "an excessive de-repression seemed to occur which accounts for the fear of being overwhelmed." (p. 149.) On the whole, t r a d i t i o n a l psycho-an a l y t i c l i t e r a t u r e c a r r i e s a negative bias towards meditation. However, object relations theory has been f r u i t f u l l y applied to transpersonal psychology which w i l l considered below. Humanist-existential approaches Within the wisdom t r a d i t i o n s that give r i s e to contemplation and meditative practice, there i s a general and over-arching concern with meaning and value. These concerns are shared with the schools of e x i s t e n t i a l and humanist psychology. Therapists and researchers following the humanist t r a d i t i o n emphasize the " s e l f - a c t u a l i z i n g " tendency of organisms and generally view meditation as a means to tap into t h i s tendency ( S a l l i s , 1982). The e x i s t e n t i a l goals include contact with "inner" sources of meaning, s e l f -r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and s e l f - r e l i a n c e . Interestingly, a number of i n f l u e n t i a l Buddhist writers including Herbert Guenther (e.g., 1984) and Stephen Batchelor (1983, 1990) have used e x i s t e n t i a l i s t concepts to translate Buddhist p r i n c i p l e s into contemporary thought. The core conditions of therapy - empathy, p o s i t i v e regard, genuineness - as i d e n t i f i e d by Rogers and a r i s i n g from e x i s t e n t i a l thought can be seen as both aspects of technique and as therapeutic goals i n themselves. Humanistically oriented researchers have studied the development of empathy (Lesh, 1970; Leung, 1973; Sweet and Johnson, 1990), p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the context of counsellor t r a i n i n g . Lesh's (1970) study suggested that empathie a b i l i t y and degree of s e l f a c t u a l i z a t i o n both developed s i g n i f i c a n t l y over a r e l a t i v e l y short period of four weeks of zen meditation. Leung's (1973) res u l t s suggest that zen meditation heightens empathy by increasing awareness of verbal and non-verbal cues and increasing the a b i l i t y to concentrate on s p e c i f i e d material. Compton and Becker (1983), using the POI, also explored the re l a t i o n s h i p between zen meditation and s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n . They were interested i n the amount of time required to develop competency i n practice and suggested that a learning period was necessary before the expected re s u l t s could manifest. The re s u l t s therefore also suggest that meditation/self-actualizing studies not using trained meditators must be questioned. The impact of meditation on the related concept of s e l f -esteem has also been explored. Seeman, Nidich, and Banta (1972) used the POI to measure the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of s e l f -a c t u a l i z a t i o n among meditators using TM. They found enhanced inner-directedness, spontaneity, self-regard, acceptance of aggression, and capacity f o r intimate contact. These results were r e p l i c a t e d i n a follow-up study by Nidich, Seeman, & Dreshin (1973). S i m i l a r l y , H j e l l e (1974), i n a comparison of experienced and prospective meditators found that the meditators were s i g n i f i c a n t l y less anxious, more i n t e r n a l l y controlled, with greater spontaneity, s e l f -regard and capacity f o r intimate contact. Gergen (1983) i n a comparison of Zen and psychological science suggested that some of the main benefits of meditation may l i e i n the development of new approaches to understanding the world. Zen meditation i s seen as a promising way to explore the states and benefits of non-conceptual or i n t u i t i v e thinking and the a p p l i c a t i o n of d i r e c t , experiential understanding to cognitive patterns and c u l t u r a l l y shared understandings. Transpersonal psychology Transpersonal psychology i s that offshoot of humanistic psychology which attempts to integrate the t h e o r e t i c a l and knowledge base of any or a l l "three forces" (psychodynamic, behavioural, and humanistic) of Western psychology with the theories, insights and practices deriving from a l t e r e d States research and the various wisdom (or s p i r i t u a l ) t r a d i t i o n s of the world. As well, transpersonal psychology attempts to integrate the three disparate concerns of healing psychological woundedness, discerning meaning and value, and s p i r i t u a l l i b e r a t i o n through the agency of the transpersonal. There are two p r i n c i p l e formulations of the relationship between mind and s p i r i t within the transpersonal approach: the developmental approach of Ken Wilber (1980) and the d i a l e c t i c a l approach of Michael Washburn (1988, 1990). Wilber suggests that humans develop from infancy through a sequence of l e v e l s marked by greater and greater integration and complexity. We develop from an i n i t i a l state of uroboric fusion with the mother, or primary narcissism, through the "egoic" l e v e l of "nonnal" adulthood through to the higher states described by the world's wisdom t r a d i t i o n s . In t h i s model, psychotherapy i s appropriate to individuals who are "stuck" i n a lower l e v e l of s t r u c t u r a l development, while meditation i s the vehicle of choice for those who have reached ego integration and wish to progress further, i n the d i r e c t i o n of Maslow's " s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n " , Jung's "individuation", or Buddha's "enlightenment". This "ladder-to-oneness" developmental approach has been contested by Washburn (1990) who has proposed a " s p i r a l - t o -integration" d i a l e c t i c a l model. The following table i l l u s t r a t e s these differences i n perspective. Two Contrasting Views Within Transpersonal Psychology DEVELOPMENTAL (Wilber) DIALECTICAL (Washburn) Transcendence of ego i s a straight forward ascending movement. Transcendence involves a reversal and return to origi n s before ascending Development proceeds d i r e c t l y from l e v e l to l e v e l , i n a purely progressive fashion. A regression to e a r l i e r l e v e l s i s necessary for movement to higher, or transegoic, l e v e l s . Transcendence i s awakening to higher, immanent, po t e n t i a l s . Transcendence i s a return to psychic and s p i r i t u a l p otentials which previously active, but now suppressed. Transcendence of ego leads to Transcendence leads to expansion of the s e l f . transformation of the s e l f . S e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n implies trans- S e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n i s an i n -cendence of s e l f , or "no-self", tegrated d u a l i t y of a a state of undivided oneness. transpersonal Self (God) and a psychological subject (ego). These two contending positions represent the current views within the f i e l d of "Transpersonal Psychology" which attempt to integrate the otherwise disparate f i e l d s of psyche and S p i r i t . A t h i r d and related approach, while not as f u l l y developed, i s presented by Russell (19 86). Russell c i t e s a range of sources, both Eastern and Western, psychologists and meditators, to suggest that therapy and meditation perhaps need not and should not be integrated i n the rigourous way attempted by Wilber and Washburn. He argues that meditation should not be regarded as psychotherapy, at least i n the sense of a l l e v i a t i n g p a r t i c u l a r psychopathologies. He contends that the Eastern t r a d i t i o n s (of both Hinduism and Buddhism) have no knowledge of "the unconscious" and no practice for uncovering and resolving c o n f l i c t u a l material. Nevertheless, he acknowledges the power of the Eastern systems to provide access to "higher" states of consciousness culminating i n the experience of "enlighten-ment" as variously described by these systems. Psychotherapy and meditation have d i f f e r e n t uses and address two separate and d i s t i n c t aspects of the human psyche. He portrays t h i s difference graphically as follows: PROPOSED TYPOLOGY OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF CONSCIOUS STATES TO THE UNCONSCIOUS CONTENT AS RELATED TO PSYCHOLOGICAL GROWTH ORDINARY CONSCIOUSNESS DEVELOPED CONSCIOUSNESS Higher states not avai l a b l e Highér'''states'''''^ ^^^^^^^ ^ attained States of consciousness Time Preconscious Content Unconscious Content " Increased ^"•"'"----^^^econscious Content (Russell, 1986, p. 67) "In t h i s topology, i t i s conceived that personal development may occur eit h e r through bringing more unconscious material into consciousness to reside i n the preconscious or i n experiencing increasingly higher states of consciousness (1986, p.68)." In suggesting that the higher states and the unconscious may be l a r g e l y unrelated, but that they may act s y n e r g i s t i c a l l y to promote growth, Russell d i f f e r s from both Wilber (1980) and Washburn (1988, 1990). Intriguing t h e o r e t i c a l discussions concerning the therapeutic e f f e c t s of meditation r e s u l t when meditation i s viewed through the t h e o r e t i c a l lens of object relations theory (Engler, 1983, 1984; Epstein and L i e f f , 1981; Epstein, 1986.) Following object r e l a t i o n s theorists (Kohut, 1971, 1977; Kernberg, 1975, 1976), Engler (1984) d i f f e r e n t i a t e s between the severe c l i n i c a l syndromes (e.g., autism, psychosis, borderline states) and less severe (psychoneurotic), depending on the developmental genesis of those states. He ponders the relevance of Buddhist meditation (the goal of which i s r e a l i z a t i o n of non-existence of s e l f ) i n r e l a t i o n to the basic goal of therapy i n the severe disorders, namely, the integration of a stable and enduring s e l f -representation. Epstein (1986, 1990) takes issue with the widespread notion (e.g., Engler, 1984, 1986) that meditation can be thera-peutic only with those individuals who already have a well developed ego structure. He suggests that meditation may have a role i n transforming n a r c i s s i s t i c character structures. Using the object r e l a t i o n s concepts of ego Ideal and ideal ego (Hanly, 19 84) he argues that both t r a d i t i o n a l l y oriented a n a l y t i c psychologists and transpersonal psychologists may be s i m p l i f y i n g the s i t u a t i o n , with the analysts seeing meditation as only g r a t i f y i n g the ego i d e a l and the transpersonalists neglecting the fact of n a r c i s s i s t i c character structures i n meditators. He contends that while concentrative types of meditation (with concomitant feelings of b l i s s , harmony and tr a n q u i l i t y ) may indeed a c t u a l l y reinforce the ego i d e a l , that insight meditation (focusing upon impermanence and ins u b s t a n t i a l i t y ) may undermine the ide a l ego. "Thus, the id e a l i z e d image that the ego has in e v i t a b l y held of i t s e l f since i t s i n f a n t i l e origins must now be extinguished, an event that i s without p a r a l l e l i n Western dynamic theory" (153). Buddhist meditation i s thus presented, i n theory, as a therapeutic methodology which can balance the "experiences of the ego ide a l with those that confront the ideal ego. It i s only when t h i s balance i s achieved that both may be abandoned and narcissism, i t s e l f , be overcome" (156). This i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the Buddhist path i s supported by Fontana (1987) who offers a conceptualization of a movement i n i t i a t e d by meditation, from s e l f - a s s e r t i o n , through s e l f -negation, to s e l f - a f f i r m a t i o n ; by Wilber (1980) with his developmental schema; and by Washburn's (1988) " d i a l e c t i c a l " approach. Brown & Engler (19 80) suggest that Westerners tend to become fixated at a "psychodynamic" l e v e l of experience, one that i s dominated by primary process thinking and such " u n r e a l i s t i c experience as fantasy, daydreaming, revery, spontaneous r e c a l l of past memories, and derepression of c o n f l i c t u a l material, incessant thinking and emotional l a b i l i t y , including dramatic swings i n mood (M. Sayadaw, 1973; Walsh, 1977, 1978; Kornfield, 1979.) Epstein (1990), while not viewing t h i s as a generic problem f o r Westerners, notes that an obstacle i n the early stages of practice i s a refusal to progress on the path of concentration but rather getting caught up i n f a s c i n a t i o n with psychological material but with no r e s o l u t i o n of psychological c o n f l i c t . As well, Engler (19 84) notes the arousal of strong transferences to teachers and relates these to Kohut's i d e a l i z i n g or mirroring types. "In the f i r s t , a need for a source of accepting and confirming "mirroring" i s revived i n the context of the teacher-student r e l a t i o n s h i p ; i n the second, a need fo r a merger with a source of "idealized" strength and calmness emerges (Kohut and Wolf, 1978)." The transpersonal approaches to meditation are most e x p l i c i t l y concerned with what Wilber c a l l s the s o t e r i o l o g i c a l . Soteriology refers to the art and science of salv a t i o n from the vagaries of conditioned existence as they have been t r a d i t i o n a l l y defined i n the world's wisdom t r a d i t i o n s . The t r a d i t i o n a l province of meditation i s not therapy but l i b e r a t i o n , not the personal but the transpersonal. The re l a t i o n s h i p between these two praxes i s problematic and indeed, i s the underlying concern of t h i s project. Some writers have attempted to c l e a r l y d i f f e r e n t i a t e the two and emphasize the importance of maintaining a d i s t i n c t separation (Welwood, 19 83) while others see them as more complementary (Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Miyuki, 1983). Whatever the approach, i t i s important to bear i n mind that meditation i t s e l f i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y regarded not i n terms of "psychological adjustment", but i n terms of l i b e r a t i o n . Brown and Engler (1982) on the basis of extensive research involving both s e l f - r e p o r t s and Rorschach studies with both South Asian and American meditators, suggest that "meditation i s something very much more than stress reduction or psychotherapy...not exactly a form of therapy but a soteriology, i . e . , a means of l i b e r a t i o n . I t i s said to be an extensive path of development that leads to a p a r t i c u l a r end: t o t a l l i b e r a t i o n from the experience of ordinary human suff e r i n g and attainment of the genuine wisdom that comes from the true perception of the nature of mind and i t s construction of reality."(216) Kishimoto's (1985) therapy of neurosis, while addressing the objective dimensions mentioned above, culminates i n s p i r i t u a l , or "self-awakening" psychotherapy. He provides several case studies exemplifying t h i s approach which u t i l i z e s a combination of readings of and r e f l e c t i o n on a p a r t i c u l a r sutra (or c l a s s i c Buddhist text); the repeated c a l l i g r a p h i c writing of personally s i g n i f i c a n t portions of the text; depending on the sectarian background of the patient the use of eith e r zen or nembutsu meditation. Through t h i s self-awakening therapy "one who establishes one's s u b j e c t i v i t y by one's r e l i g i o n can n a t u r a l l y recover from physical and mental diseases...(and) suddenly or gradually a t t a i n self-awakening and r e a l i z e subjective freedom, resolution, independence, o r i g i n a l i t y , i n d i v i d u a l i t y , d i g n i t y and c r e a t i v i t y of s p i r i t . " (94) The closest that Western psychology has come to a s o t e r i o l o g i c a l conception of therapy seems to be Maslow, with the theory and practice of " s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n " . Various writers (e.g., S a l l i s , 1982) have used t h i s conception to translate the aim and goal of meditation. From t h i s perspective, psychological adjustment i s c l e a r l y secondary to the transcendent function of l i b e r a t i o n or freedom from the sufferings contingent upon conditioned existence. Epstein (1990) warns against a tendency of using meditation as a psychological defense, and argues that " i t i s pr e c i s e l y those areas that appear therapeutic that are...potential obstacles to s p i r i t u a l development f o r those of us who seek and set up a psychotherapeutic model fo r what i s being sought." What Epstein seeks, through recourse to object r e l a t i o n s theory (as mentioned above), i s to a r t i c u l a t e meditation as a path/process that i s neither therapeutic nor non-therapeutic. Using the c o n f l i c t s of narcissism (Mahler, 1972; Guntrip, 1971) as a compelling paradigm f o r the human struggle between i s o l a t i o n and fusion, between meaningless and inherent perfection, Epstein (1990) sketches an approach to meditation which embodies the Buddhist i d e a l of the Middle Way between the extremes of n i h i l i s m and eternalism: The meditative path, through i t s experiences of ter r o r and delight, of confrontation and b l i s s , of concentration, mindfulness and insight, seizes these psychic predispositions, engages them, and gradually works a piece of understanding that obviates both extremes. Culminating i n the appreciation of emptiness (sunyata) and egoless-ness (annatta), the meditative path i s not without obstacles, generated i n the most part by these two r e l a t i v e l y intransigent notions of a l l or nothing, (p. 20) Thus, Epstein (1990) presents a c l e a r picture of the development of meditation from the early stages of concentration meditation i n which psychological material comes forth, to the b l i s s f u l , highly focused and seductive l a t e r stages of concentration, through to the paths of mindfulness and insight i n which the ego or s e l f i s illuminated as i t r e a l l y i s - empty of inherent existence. This r e a l i z a t i o n i s the culmination of the Buddhist path and i s accomplished through the successful navigation of a long series of psychological traps, "the psychological tendencies of meditators at every stage of development to err on e i t h e r side of absolutism or n i h i l i s m " (p. 17). Various writers (e.g., Shapiro, 1980; Walsh, 1983; Tart, 1990) have described t h e i r personal experiences with meditative practices from the perspective of l i b e r a t i o n or opening to an expended sense of Being. Walsh (19 83) reports an i n i t i a l l y increased awareness of the structure of d a i l y thought and fantasy as well as a pattern of underlying fears, along with increased a f f e c t i v e l a b i l i t y , eventuating i n sensations of peace and quiet, enhanced perceptual s e n s i t i v i t y , and increasing degrees of trust and openness. Shapiro (19 80) noted that meditation provided him with a "vehicle by which (I) could learn to accept what I could not control", a p o s i t i v e factor from both a psychological and s p i r i t u a l perspective. Levin (1988) recorded his experience with a p a r t i c u l a r meditation p r a c t i c e from the Nyingma t r a d i t i o n of Tibet, the so-called Dark Retreat. He describes the retreat as "a r i c h and deeply therapeutic experience...I emerged from the archetypal womb of darkness f e e l i n g nourished i n s p i r i t and more deeply integrated, more whole and complete than when I entered i t . . . I have reason to believe that the benefits I have noted are r e a l and that t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r my l i f e - and i n p a r t i c u l a r , for my visionary propensities and habits - w i l l be enduring" (484). The l i t e r a t u r e reviewed has been suggestive of a range of outcomes. The therapeutic, e x i s t e n t i a l and s o t e r i o l o g i c a l approaches to meditation overlap. What are the factors involved i n the various types of meditation which make i t such a powerful and all-encompassing method of change? The following section presents some of the findings relevant to t h i s question. Variables involved i n successful outcome of meditation One of the d i f f i c u l t i e s i n meditation research i s determining exactly what i t i s that i s being studied. Nominally, the researcher i s studying the e f f e c t s of meditation. However, there are several d i f f e r e n t types of meditation and each one consists of a v a r i e t y of f a c t o r s . Which one i s being used? What i s the qu a l i t y of app l i c a t i o n (e.g., how much time i n an actual meditation session i s spent meditating? and conversely, i s there time outside of formal practice that can and should be considered meditation)? T r a d i t i o n a l sources suggest that there are three categories of meditation: concentrative, receptive (or awareness) and combined (Goleman, 1977; Walsh, 1982). Each of these types can be further subdivided. For example, while concentrative practices focus upon one p a r t i c u l a r object of attention at a time, that object could be physical, sound or mantra, v i s u a l i z a t i o n , a concept (e.g., emptiness of s e l f ) , a feeling-toned mental state (e.g., love and compassion), or breath. Receptive meditations, while leaving the "mind" open and attentive to any and a l l s t i m u l i , s i m i l a r l y have d i f f e r e n t f o c i . For example, vipassana meditation as taught i n the South-east Asian t r a d i t i o n s i n i t i a l l y maintains t h i s openness regarding body awareness, while the Mahamudra and Maha-Ati t r a d i t i o n s of Tibet, culminate i n an openness to Being i t s e l f . These l a t t e r t r a d i t i o n s could also be more accurately regarded as combined, since any attentional focus (concentrative) i s held to be simultaneously open or empty of self-nature (receptive). Epstein (1990) makes the point that varying stages of meditation require varying tasks, "the primary task of the preliminary practices (being that) of adaptation to the flow of inner experience...allowing a kind of inner space to be created...a " t r a n s i t i o n a l space" that "contains" a l l of the products of the psyche that are revealed through meditation. Mechanisms involved i n the production of observed findings Any phenomenon can be described from a v a r i e t y of perspectives and i s conditioned by a v a r i e t y of causes. For example, human behaviours may involve psychological, phy s i o l o g i c a l , and chemical mechanisms. The l i n e a r model of cause (and hence mediating mechanism) and e f f e c t has been thrown into question as the single epistemological process by quantum physics and systems theories. It has become increasingly c l e a r that the search for a single determinative factor underlying any physical or psychological phenomena i s l i m i t i n g at best, and more often w i l l be both f r u i t l e s s and meaningless. The problems of searching for mechanisms i s summed up by Walsh (1983): " i t i s not c l e a r how appropriate i t i s to think i n terms of c e r t a i n mechanisms as mediating the production of meditation e f f e c t s , since i n a complex interdependent system, the very concept of mechanisms may be suspect, and there i s always the considerable danger of reductionism" (26). Numerous mechanisms have been posited, each with varying degrees of v a l i d i t y , none of which s i n g l y seeming to account for the range of responses. Among the factors suggested are the process of progressive heightening of awareness of, and subsequent d i s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n (Walsh, 1977, 1978) from, mental content (cf. i n heightened form, abreaction, catharsis (Maupin, 1962; Carrington and Ephron, 1975)); psychological and physical relaxation (Benson, 1975); global desensitization (Goleman, 1971); counterconditioning and a var i e t y of other cognitive mediating factors (e.g., "loosening", i n construct theory terms, (Kelly, 1955), information processing (Brown, 1977), s e l f - i n s t r u c t i o n (Shapiro & Z i f f e r b l a t t , 1976) ; reduced metabolism and arousal (Delmonte, 1979, 1985); adaptive regression; hemispheric l a t e r a l i z a t i o n (Pagano & Frumkin, 1977; Bennett & Trinder, 1977) ; brain wave resonance and coherence (Haymes, 1977); deautomatization and bimodal consciousness (Deikman, 1966, 1971); and a s h i f t i n the a c t i v a t i n g and quieting components of the autonomic nervous system (e.g., Goleman & Schwartz, 1976), among others. An example of the desensitizing e f f e c t s of meditation i s given by Wortz (1982) i n a discussion of his therapeutic practice which includes a case study. He i n s t r u c t s his C l i e n t s to p r a c t i c e meditation as an adjunct to gestalt and behavioural approaches as a way to "reduce l a b e l i n g and thereby achieve some detachment from words and phrases...(and) to change the d i r e c t i o n of attention and in t e r e s t toward the discomfort rather than avoiding i t . " From the t h e o r e t i c a l perspective of Ken Wilber (1980), meditation can be viewed as a developmental catalyst, a s s i s t i n g the i n d i v i d u a l to complete e a r l i e r unresolved tasks and to move to higher, more i n c l u s i v e , states of integration. Tart (19 75) suggests that d i f f e r e n t types of meditation can a s s i s t i n the development of various components of consciousness, such as attention, emotion, or i d e n t i t y . Developments i n research methodology, both quantitative and q u a l i t a t i v e , permit the examination of multiple mediating mechanisms. For example, Osis, et a l (1973) used factor analysis to more c l e a r l y define the major dimensions of the meditative experience. Four experiments were conducted and s i g n i f i c a n t common factors of the experience were determined through factor analysis of questionnaires. These factors included Self-transcendence and Openness, Mood Brought to Session, I n t e n s i f i c a t i o n and Change of Consciousness, Meaning, Forceful Exclusion of Images, and General Success of Meditation. Delmonte and Kenny (19 85) suggest a developmental model combining behavioural and psychodynamic concepts. They argue that there i s i n i t i a l l y a relaxation response, which i s subsequently conditioned to a stimulus (mantra, breath). This permits derepression of both memories and short term concerns which are i d e a l l y desensitized "via a process of covert r e a l i t y t e s t i n g " leading to lessened anxiety, better sleep, and a maintenance of a p o s i t i v e feedback cycle. They hypothesize as well that meditation practice "may be associated with formation of more adaptive constructs (Kelly, 1955) i n terms of external r e a l i t y . " Shapiro (1980) agrees that a reliance on a single mechanism i s unsatisfactory. Arguing for greater precision, he suggests that "what seems necessary i s to work toward developing a hierarchic, m u l t i - l e v e l , interdependent biopsychological model for mediating mechanisms... (that) would need to be applied to each meditation technique separately, depending both on the e f f e c t s being measured, as well as the d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s within the technique being experienced." (249) He suggests that both antecedents of meditation as well as the actual behaviours within meditation need to be a r t i c u l a t e d and examined, both s i n g l y and i n r e l a t i o n to each other. Among the l a t t e r , he suggests that the role of physical posture, attentional focus, and regulation of breathing be examined. In comparison to the mechanisms suggested above, those l i s t e d by Shapiro (19 80) remain much closer to the mediating elements recognized within the meditative t r a d i t i o n s themselves. In the writings of both Jack Kornfield (19 89, and Goldstein & Kornfield, 1987), a c l i n i c a l psychologist and meditator, and those of Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa (1976), we f i n d an attempt at f i d e l i t y to the concepts and language of the o r i g i n a l transmissions. S i m i l a r l y Goleman's (1971, 1972) approach to the l i t e r a t u r e of Buddhist meditation remains f a i t h f u l to the t r a d i t i o n a l concepts. This variance i n approach on any of these dimensions i s problematic. In examining either the goals of meditation, i t s context or i t s practice, there i s a distance between the understanding of t r a d i t i o n a l - s p i r i t u a l and contemporary-psychological approaches. In comparing them, we enter the domain of c r o s s - c u l t u r a l studies. The two approaches represent v a s t l y d i f f e r e n t cultures with d i f f e r i n g languages, world-views, values, orientations to time, space and meaning. Walsh (1982) suggests that research of stimulus dimensions of meditation are i n t h e i r infancy and suggests a need to move from "a uni-dimensional to an increasingly multi-dimensional conceptualization, towards increasing s p e c i f i c i t y of description of component s t i m u l i , and to more precise control such that experimental and control subjects d i f f e r on fewer stimulus dimensions" (78). He hopes that research w i l l be able to i d e n t i f y "those subjects who w i l l respond optimally, those at r i s k for negative e f f e c t s , and possible means of enhancing favourable responses" (80). What are the relevant variables which a f f e c t the range of responses found i n amongst meditators. There are two classes of independent varia b l e s : those associated with the subjects, such as age, gender, i n t e l l i g e n c e , and personality factors; and those not so associated, such as demand ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s , experimenter expectancy, etc. Experiments designed to control for these factors would t h e o r e t i c a l l y a s s i s t i n determining which individuals would most benefit from meditation. It i s l i k e l y that there are a number of mediating mechanisms at play i n any given type of meditation and with any p a r t i c u l a r meditator. Numerous other variables cloud the issue: age, duration of practice, frequency of practice, s k i l l i n prac t i c e . Some studies that have examined these variables include those by Smith (1978) using factor analysis which indicated that the a b i l i t y to p e r s i s t i n meditation was related to the degree of psychological s t a b i l i t y and honesty. We have seen above (Amodeo, 1982; Engler, 1983, 1984; Epstein, 1986, 1990) some other accounts of personality factors that bear on the meditative process, including the borderline and n a r c i s s i s t i c conditions. Osis et a l (1973) attempted to minimize experimenter e f f e c t by i n v i t i n g p a r t i c i p a n t s to a s s i s t i n the item construction of t h e i r questionnaire. This e f f o r t to i s o l a t e a range of "variables" t y p i f i e s the approach to meditation as a " s c i e n t i f i c " enterprise. In some sense, i t seems a curiously redundant enterprise and at the very least, raises again the issue of paradigm clash. T r a d i t i o n a l l y , f o r example, the motivation and cognitive context for p r a c t i c e has been very rigourously defined. The c e n t r a l i t y of altruism as a motivational force i n Mahayana Buddhist meditation cannot be ignored. It i s c i t e d as the e s s e n t i a l condition for successful prac t i c e . If t h i s condition i s not present as context, we w i l l have departed from meditation as i t was understood and practiced and we would be working not with meditation as t r a d i t i o n a l l y understood, but with something d i f f e r e n t . Meditation and Life-path development In addition to the research which has focused on meditation per se, there i s a growing body of relevant research which has been stimulated by narrative approaches to psychology, a reconceptualization of career, and a refinement of developmental theories. This body of l i t e r a t u r e uses a r e l a t i v e l y long-term time frame and i s concerned with meaning, goals, and i d e n t i t y and the symbolic structures that shape these into coherent structures. Metzner (1986) presented a summary of metaphors, symbols and analogies that have been used both h i s t o r i c a l l y and currently to provide coherent structures to contain and embody the transformations of s e l f through the course of l i f e . Nino uses Augustine's narrative to develop a paradigm f o r the movement from fragmentation to s e l f - r e s t o r a t i o n . He applies Kohut's (1977) theory of self-psychology as an int e r p r e t i v e system to the Confessions and argues f o r an extension of the theory that includes a transcendent function. "The narrative of Confessions indicates that the experience of empathy, i n the many forms i t can take outside of the c l i n i c a l s i t u a t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y through a genuine experience of the transcendent, i s c r u c i a l to the psychological and s p i r i t u a l restoration of the s e l f " (17). Nino tracks Augustine's restorative process through f i v e key themes: the experience of fragmentation; a r e a l i s t i c appraisal of l i f e through scrutiny of memories and acknowledgement of g u i l t s and f a i l i n g s ; the construction of a narrative which exposes the s e l f i n an act of f a i t h , c l a r i f i e s confusion, and structures past, present and future into a meaningful whole; a reordering of the meaning and structure of relationships; and, "a creative response i n continuity". This l a s t factor i s further divided into four elements: "a c r i t i c a l change i n the inner world of the in d i v i d u a l , e f f e c t i v e l y sustained through time"; an involvement with l i f e u t i l i z i n g the resources of a transformed s e l f " ; "an e f f o r t to a t t a i n a congruent image of the s e l f i n the minds of others"; and "a new sense of time, implied i n the compelling metaphor of l i f e as a pilgrimage." (16) Nino suggests that the narrative may a s s i s t c l i n i c i a n s who are working with c l i e n t s when questions of ultimacy are foremost and that the approach may a s s i s t others i n understanding "the psychological and transcendental dimensions of the s e l f " . Using the metaphor of journey, Shapiro (1989) presents his own understanding and practice of Judaism as a veh i c l e for psychological and s p i r i t u a l transformation. His goals are threefold: to present a revisioning of the Judaic t r a d i t i o n ; to present a symbolic system of "common dimensions" whereby various s p i r i t u a l and psychological t r a d i t i o n s can be more c l e a r l y compared and understood; and, to explore "the interface between psychology as a human science, and r e l i g i o n " i n order to expand the former's understanding of optimum health and well-being. The common dimensions suggested include a s t a r t i n g point of theory ("beginning the journey"), a cle a r goal ("where are we going?"), the obstacles on the journey ("what stops us from reaching the Promised Land, stages i n the journey through the Wilderness), assessing progress ("where are we?"), and techniques ("means f o r reaching the Promised Land"). With very d i f f e r e n t focus, Shapiro and Nino both work with an i n t e r p r e t i v e narrative to c l a r i f y commonalities of the r e l i g i o u s and psychological approaches to well-being. The use of narrative as a research t o o l w i l l be further explored i n Chapter Three. Summary This review has covered a representative sampling of some of the more compelling studies of the past twenty years. It has generally not included t r a d i t i o n a l approaches to meditation from within the various Buddhist lineages such as the Visuddhimagga (the "Path to P u r i f i c a t i o n " ) (Goleman, 1972a, 1972b) or Mahamudra (the "Great Seal") (Dorje, 1981; Rangdrol, 1989), the t r a d i t i o n with which pa r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study are primarily involved. There are a number of themes and approaches which stand out through the course of t h i s review. One element which runs as an underground current through a l l i s the clash between two paradigms or world-views, the t r a d i t i o n a l and the "modern". As one seasoned meditator, who i s also a psychologist (Welwood, 1983) writes, "I used to speculate that psychotherapy could be a Western equivalent of meditation and other Eastern paths of l i b e r a t i o n . But a f t e r p r a c t i c i n g meditation for many years, t h e i r s i m i l a r i t i e s do not seem as great to me as the following major differences between the orientation of therapy and meditation" (p. 46): expanding i d e n t i t y vs. l e t t i n g go of i d e n t i t y ; b u i l d i n g meaning structures vs. d i s s o l v i n g meaning structures; and goal orientation vs. l e t t i n g go. In t h i s chapter we have seen a l i t t l e of the complexity of the issues facing us i n examining the r e l a t i o n s h i p between psychotherapy and meditation as they r e l a t e to the development and maintenance of mental health. The outcomes of meditation vary depending on both the goal involved and the d e f i n i t i o n s used by the p a r t i c u l a r d i s c i p l i n e or t r a d i t i o n involved. Temporal factors (duration and intensity) have s i g n i f i c a n t e f f e c t on the outcome. The actual mechanisms involved also vary widely even within a single meditative approach. They range from expectations and other psychological factors to the p h y s i o l o g i c a l and chemical factors r e s u l t i n g from stimulus reduction and relaxation. Independent variables, such as subjects age, gender and psychological factors a l l play a s i g n i f i c a n t role i n outcome. I hope to b u i l d upon the foundation of research that has been conducted so far, but also to return to basics: the l i v e d experience of meditation which embodies the vast range of data and speculation outlined above. By working with a small number of deeply committed meditators, I hope to look with fresh eyes upon the r e l a t i o n s h i p between meditation and mental health. And hopefully, t h i s research w i l l contribute to c l a r i f y i n g the relationships between the two practices of meditation and psychotherapy, both of which seek i n t h e i r own ways to lead to greater degrees of mental health, well-being and happiness. CHAPTER THREE: PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE Chapter Three i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y reserved f o r the e x p l i c a t i o n of the research methodology to be used i n the study. However, the l o g i c of the methodology being presently employed i s perhaps better served by usurping t h i s l o c a t i o n for the bracketing of the personal perspective of the author. The reasons for t h i s w i l l become apparent i n the f o l l l o w i n g chapter i n which the research design w i l l be presented. S u f f i c e i t to say that the e x p l i c a t i o n of the author's personal perspective i s c r i t i c a l to both the c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the questions to be asked and to the approach used. I request the indulgence of the reader f o r t h i s departure from the regular form. My hi s t o r y with meditation begins over twenty f i v e years ago. As a teen-ager, I f e l t generally alienated from others. I had a small c i r c l e of male friends and one or two best friends, but with these friends as with others, I often f e l t as i f I was on the outside looking i n . I had a close female f r i e n d with whom I could have intimate conversations, but she was romantically uninterested i n me and had a boyfriend i n his 2 0s. I was i n an "accelerated c l a s s " i n secondary school, which placed me, along with my class-mates, at odds with and further alienated me from my age mates. I had long been conditioned to a l i f e of aesthetics and i n t e l l e c t with concomitant expectations of u n i v e r s i t y . But t h i s preparation seemed to place me at odds with my peers, the more popular of whom were a c t i v e l y involved i n sports, p a r t i c u l a r l y those team sports which as a r e s u l t of my r e l a t i v e l y small stature were inaccessible to me. It i s against t h i s background that my i n t e r e s t i n meditation f i r s t developed. I was already defining myself as d i f f e r e n t , as an outsider, so I r e a d i l y gravitated to the s o c i a l currents which reinforced me i n that p o s i t i o n and put me increasingly at odds with the values of the majority of my friends and family. At core, I was deeply unhappy, though I believe that I was denying that to myself at the time, and developed a very c r i t i c a l stance toward the i n f e r i o r values that I saw around me. Several sets of questions continued to churn f o r me. I was preoccupied with questions and confusion regarding my own uniqueness. These erupted i n such concerns as "are my physical perceptions of the world the same as the next person?"; " i s the pain that one person f e e l s greater or d i f f e r e n t from that another person f e e l s ? " And i n my i s o l a t i o n , I also questioned the makeup of my world: "was there somewhere someone who would love me and f u l f i l l me?"; "how can I change the world into a place where I/we can get the love/attention/wholeness that we seek?" As we moved into the 60s, others seemed to be sharing these concerns. At l e a s t , I seemed to f i n d my concerns r e f l e c t e d and validated by what I was seeing on t e l e v i s i o n , i n the movies, i n music: a restlessness and d i s a t i s f a c t i o n that was soon to become known as the Youth Culture. The world as i t was currently constituted was profoundly wrong and there had to be some way to set i t r i g h t . Adolescence c r y s t a l l i z e d f o r me struggles that about belonging, love and meaning that had l i k e l y been brewing since infancy. On the one hand, I was confused about my own s u b j e c t i v i t y , what was t h i s mind that experienced the world as something over and against, or outside of i t s e l f . Who was I? And on the other hand, how could I step back and p u l l away from a system, an entire culture, that seemed not only incapable of providing any answers, but seemed to be for c i n g me into a posture of c o n s t r i c t i o n . Certainly, my reading of the Romantics during high school reinforced some of these postures. Books had always been my friends. I had started reading early and r e l i e d more r e a d i l y upon books than upon my family and friends to help me make sense of the world. Some would say that I was su b s t i t u t i n g an ideal world f o r the r e a l one and indeed, one of the "charges" commonly directed at me was that I was an " i d e a l i s t " . At any rate, several of my high school teachers directed me towards l i t e r a t u r e and other writings that r e f l e c t e d my d i s a f f e c t i o n from the dominant culture and i t s mores. My f i r s t contact with the concept of meditation came through my reading of Alan Watts. I had been l e d to Watts through an early contact with the Beat writers suggested by my teachers who also introduced to me the i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a d i t i o n of not only the Beats but also the e x i s t e n t i a l i s t writers, p r i m a r i l y French. My friends and I manifested a strange e c l e c t i c i s m : Dada and Surrealism, French New Wave, Sartre, Camus, and the Beats, p a r t i c u l a r l y Ginsberg and Kerouac. Due to my involvment with the accelerated program i n high school, I began University at seventeen and immediately began associating with others who delighted i n marginality, "the a r t s y - f a r t s y " bunch who were "into" c i v i l r i g h t s , a n t i -nuclear a c t i v i t y , and experimentation with various approaches to consciousness a l t e r a t i o n , including at that point, marijuana. Meditation, as i t appeared i n the writings of Watts and others at that time, seemed to o f f e r something mysterious, out of the ordinary. It seemed to promise a confirmation of my superior understanding of what l i f e was about. Since the answer wasn't here, i n 1960s North America, perhaps i t lay i n the t r a d i t i o n s of the East which, i n the imagery of s e l f - immolating monks i n Vietnam was powerfully i n j e c t i n g i t s e l f into our awareness. The f i r s t experience with "meditation" that I can r e c a l l was staring at an empty green wine bot t l e i n my room i n the Peace House at 3148 Point Grey Road. I'd been reading Watts and D.T. Suzuki and was t r y i n g to figure out what th i s "emptiness" was that they kept r e f e r r i n g to. I think now that what I succeeded to do i n that room was to s t r i p away the name "bottle" from the object, and perhaps, f o r a moment, recover or uncover a perception of "bottleness" perhaps the way a preverbal c h i l d would view i t . I was decorating my room with copies of Sung p r i n t s , using old r i c e crates f o r furniture, and burning cheap sandalwood incense, a l l from Chinatown. I had a sense that there was something to t h i s "meditation", that i t would help sort out both of my sets of problems - what i s t h i s s e l f , t h i s mind, a l l about?; and, as I read about the "bodhisattva" vow which talked about compassionate work for others, how could we make t h i s world a better place? - but I r e a l l y didn't know what I was doing, I hoped that somehow I would be able to meet someone to teach me, someone with whom I could develop a personal connection, someone who would be able to enlighten me and hence ease my sense of being a stranger i n the world. At t h i s same time, I began to explore the world of the counterculture, including i t s various sacraments. Experiences with LSD, peyote and mescaline i n p a r t i c u l a r opened up perceptual r e a l i t i e s that I had never before imagined. Again, the works of Watts and of Alpert, Metzner and Leary, provided me with guidance. I became intrigued by t h i s world, i n which the d i s t i n c t i o n s of inner and outer seemed to collapse. The 60s phrase "we are a l l one" at some l e v e l was quite c l e a r l y true, and yet my own personal s u f f e r i n g and the su f f e r i n g of my friends was equally true. It was a time of intense confusion. I sensed that drug use, while providing glimpses into a world that glowed with energy and a sense of higher truth, was a dead end. I longed for a "natural" way to "get high" and took to heart Watt's comment on psychedelics, "when you get the message, you hang up the phone." Thus, psychedelics furthered my desire to f i n d a teacher of meditation. As well, certain v i s i o n s which I had i n al t e r e d states which suggested that Eastern, s p e c i f i c a l l y Tibetan Buddhist forms, might provide me with the vehicle that I was seeking. My i n i t i a l motivation then, was a longing for in t e n s i t y , for the f e e l i n g of being intensely a l i v e , something that could break through t h i s ongoing sense of being outside, fragmented, i n turmoil. And I wanted to f e e l a l i v e without the luminosity of LSD and other psychedelics s h i f t i n g to experiences of mind-numbing terror, which had happened on occasion. I f i r s t t r i e d Transcendental Meditation because i t was availa b l e and worked fo r some time with the mantra given me by a middle-aged chain-smoking North American woman. At least, I was assured, there was a d i r e c t transmission from the master, Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, with whom the Beatles were also connected. F i n a l l y , i n 1972, I took refuge, the formal induction into the Buddhist f a i t h , with a Tibetan lama, Kalu Rinpoche. I had wanted a teacher, someone on whom I could r e l y to provide me with a genuine path, a path which would eventuate i n a l i f e f i l l e d with meaning and purpose, and b a s i c a l l y , I suppose, with v i t a l i t y , contact. I f e l t that with t h i s t r a d i t i o n a l Tibetan teacher that I had f i n a l l y connected with an authentic lineage. I began e n t h u s i a t i c a l l y , taken up with the exotic q u a l i t i e s of Tibetan Buddhism, enthralled with the sound of the language, the richness of the r i t u a l s which were accompanied with the strange sounds of Tibetan music and chanting. I learned prayers and chants i n Tibetan and i n p a r t i c u l a r began the meditation practice associated with Chenrezig, or Avalokitesvara, the most popular "deity" of Tibet, who i s held to be incarnated as the Dalai Lama. As well, I threw myself ( l i t e r a l l y ) into the foundational practices, or Ngun-dro, consisting of a hundred thousand r e p i t i t i o n s • o f prostrations, various mantras and prayers. I f e l t that by following these practices I would experience states of mind that would be ill u m i n a t i n g and make me into a wise and compassionate person. As well, I f e l t that I was gaining access to p r i v i l i g e d information, secret and sacred p r a c t i c e s . And although I wasn't consciously setting out to do t h i s , what better way to mark my uniqueness. In 1974, a f t e r two years of p r a c t i c i n g d i l i g e n t l y , I journeyed to India and Nepal, hoping that I could recieve even better teachings, have more personal contact with my teacher(s), and I t o l d myself, see how re a l Buddhists (Tibetans, i n t h i s case) a c t u a l l y practiced t h i s r e l i g i o n which I had embraced. I was, i n retrospect, l i v i n g a t r u l y s p l i t existence. T r a v e l l i n g with me to India was my partner and her f i v e year old son. We had discovered that she was pregant p r i o r to our departure but decided to make the t r i p anyway. From the perspective of our relationship, the t r i p was disastrous. Our daughter was born i n Nepal and died there, at about two and a half months. Both of us were thrown into g r i e f but I held myself together to support her. I was f e e l i n g i n c r e d i b l e g u i l t . Soon a f t e r our return, she became pregant again. Within months, we separated. I continued to meditate and within the context of my meditation, two trends are apparent: meditation and the accompanying b e l i e f structure became a means of avoidance. I was supported i n my own sense of s p i r i t u a l correctness, i n f l a t e d with a sense of my t r i p to India, a l b e i t with i t s t r a g i c consequences. That too, I could weave into my persona of s p i r i t u a l seeker. On the other hand, the practices of prostration (physically and psychologically p a i n f u l i n i t s invocation of devotion) and of Dorje-Sembha, which involved a sense of confession and of forgiveness, were both very sobering, at times surfacing both the g r i e f I f e l t about the death of our daughter and the g u i l t about our separation. During t h i s same time, I started a r e l a t i o n s h i p with another woman, my present wife, who i n short order became pregnant. While each continuing a practice of mediation, we began to do some therapy i n group contexts. Humanistically oriented, i t involved gestalt and other exper i e n t i a l approaches. I became aware of how much pain people carried, imbedded i n t h e i r bodies and psyches. I was t e r r i f i e d at the prospect of revealing myself to others, a f r a i d that they would see me as a fraud, or worse yet, a nobody. I watched from the s i d e l i n e s as others screamed out t h e i r rage or g r i e f and i f I d i d do any work, I f e l t i t was weak or f a l s e or inauthentic. I was s t i l l embedded i n a structure of g u i l t and s e l f - l o a t h i n g . I looked to my new partner to save me. She didn't. Instead, she l e f t me and went to Hawaii to give b i r t h to our son. I went to the i n t e r i o r to teach as a high school teacher. I continued to meditate but I also started to look at who I had become. My world had collapsed. Death had become r e a l . I was revealed as a phony, I was worthless. My sojourn i n M e r r i t t was a purgatory of self-examination. A few months a f t e r the b i r t h of my son, my wife returned to Canada and we began to reconstruct our r e l a t i o n s h i p . The f i f t e e n years of our marriage has been c r i t i c a l i n my growth and development. I have had to recognize and struggle with habits of withdrawal and distancing learned i n my nuclear family. I have unlearned some of the authoritarian and p e r f e c t i o n s i t i c patterns of c h i l d r a i s i n g which I had brought into my previous r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Through a l l these years, I have maintained my meditative practice, sometimes more and sometimes le s s intensively. My relationship to both my teacher and to the sangha or s p i r i t u a l community has also changed over the years. While I have been both the edi t o r of the community newsletter and president of a branch organization, I am currently rather peripheral to the organization, while many of my closest friends are p r a c t i c i n g Buddhists. Part of my distance from the organization resulted from my teacher's death on the one hand, and on the other, from a sense that his representative i n Vancouver was acting i n ways p r e j u d i c i a l to the essence of the teachings and t h e i r a v a i l a b i l i t y to the broader public community. These facts have given r i s e to feelings of loss, g r i e f and betrayal. There i s s t i l l , at t h i s time i n our community the need for much healing. Nevertheless, the practice of meditation, the ongoing contact with exemplary teachers, and the support of Buddhist friends who share my experiences and perspective have a l l contributed to my wish and a b i l i t y to continue on the path which I started twenty or more years ago. During these many years, while continuing to regard Kalu Rinpoche as my "root" teacher due to his kindness i n opening the door to the Buddhadharma (or Buddhist teachings), I have studied with numerous teachers, most of them Tibetan. The meditations include both shamatha, or concentrâtive, and vippasana, or insight practices. I have worked with a number of the so-called Foundational Practices of Tibetan Buddhism including the Guru Yoga of Padma Sambhava, as well as numerous deity practices and the practice of Pho'wa or preparation for ejection of consciousness at the moment of death. The preceding provides some sense of my background and the interweaving of my "personal history" with a s p i r i t u a l path. Throughout, meditation has been simultaneously a grounding, i n a physical and e x i s t e n t i a l sense, and also a way of securing myself psychologically, giving me a sense of i d e n t i t y . It i s impossible i n t h i s short space to do more than provide the f l i m s i e s t of outlines of the impact of meditation upon my l i f e . Nevertheless, I w i l l t r y to summarize the essentials here. My central motivation f o r undertaking t h i s research l i e s i n the fact that I have undergone profound changes i n the course of my prac t i c e . These changes have taken place slowly and seem to have accumulated over a long duration of sporadic, sometimes f r u s t r a t i n g , but ultimately persistent e f f o r t . With t h i s research, I wish to bring the strength and c l a r i t y of the human sciences to bear on my experience and those of the many serious meditators who practice i n t h i s rather discordant world-age. I have experienced the following through the course of my practice of meditation : (1) enabled me to focus my mind and allow i t to rest on an object with f a c i l i t y and c l a r i t y : t h i s experience arises not only within the context and confines of a meditation session but also i n post-meditation, d a i l y l i f e s i t u a t i o n s . (2) has provided me with an experi e n t i a l reference point for the development of patience i n d i f f i c u l t s i t u a t i o n s : through cognitive reframing of a s i t u a t i o n . This ranges from interpersonal s t r i f e i n the home and workplace through to anguish, rage and helplessness toward world events. (3) has provided me with the reference point of death and impermanence: s i m i l a r to Don Juan's (Castaneda, ) use of death as companion and teacher, the d i s c i p l i n e d contemplation of death and impermanence c l a r i f i e s the value and meaning of l i f e . Practices associated with these contemplations have been profound and cathartic bringing home to me the extent to which I love and value my family, friends and associates and thus reorganizing my p r i o r i t i e s i n r e l a t i o n s h i p to them. (4) humility: the practice of prostrations, i n p a r t i c u l a r , generate feelings of awe, reverence and devotion. My own sense of self-centredness (or egocentricity) collapses i n reference to the sources of refuge i n the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n . (5) structure of meaning and goal: meditation practice i s grounded i n a p a r t i c u l a r view. This t r a d i t i o n a l reference point of the potential of l i b e r a t i o n from s u f f e r i n g for s e l f and others provides a clear sense of d i r e c t i o n and meaning i n l i f e . S p e c i f i c practices designed to arouse compassion and loving-kindness f o r s e l f and others gives meaning to suf f e r i n g and pain. (6) p r a c t i c a l method of achieving and maintaining sense of peace, well-being and balance i n the form of regular practice; regular p r a c t i c e seems to cut through problematic situations v i a a combination of many of the mechanisms (processes) mentioned i n the l i t e r a t u r e review: including the relaxation response, disengagement from negative thoughts, and the reframing of experience into a meaningful structure. These various e f f e c t s are each related to p a r t i c u l a r meditation practices or combinations thereof. The Buddhist t r a d i t i o n of Tibet provides an extensive range of these practices which might be e f f i c a c i o u s i n a v a r i e t y of si t u a t i o n s . My experience with these practices, however s l i g h t , suggests that meditation, given proper context, can profoundly a s s i s t i n d i v i d u a l s i n overcoming s u f f e r i n g of various types and be of profound benefit to one's "mental health" broadly conceived. At the same time, I f e e l that i n my own progress i n meditation has been hampered by "psychological" factors. For example, i t has occurred to me that one of the factors i n my lack of d i s c i p l i n e and consistency i n practice i s related to psychodynamic factors, for example, by an underlying dynamic of shame. I experience t h i s as a subtle aggression against myself, a punitive voice (with or without words), as a w i l l turned i n , against "me", suggesting that whatever I do i s not good enough. This pattern becomes clear with c e r t a i n types of meditation. The progressive resolution of t h i s dynamic seems to res u l t i n the benefits l i s t e d above. Overall then, meditation seems to provide a space within which I can relax and observe t h i s pattern without reacting. The insights a r i s i n g from t h i s change can be c a r r i e d into "post-meditation" experience, also known as everyday l i f e , though there seem to be inveterate tendencies often working against or impeding t h i s transference. A p a r t i c u l a r instance may i l l u s t r a t e . During a meditation on compassion, i n which one i s instructed to imagine oneself as a young c h i l d and to generate feelings of love and compassion f o r t h i s c h i l d , I found myself obstructed by feelings of worthlessness: as the c h i l d , I didn't r e a l l y f e e l deserving of love, of warmth; there was something wrong with me; I was bad, w i l f u l , deserving of whatever pain and punishment I experienced. This block i n a flow of love, t h i s i n a b i l i t y to connect f e e l i n g f u l l y with tenderness toward the c h i l d that I was raised feelings of f r u s t r a t i o n , confusion, and ultimately, numbness. This instance highlights a central difference between psychotherapy (and i t s various t h e o r t i c a l constructs) and Buddhism, Our "Western" view would seek the source or cause, of t h i s blockage, t h i s shame, h i s t o r i c a l l y . We would l i k e l y ascribe i t s o r i g i n to our parents' c h i l d r a i s n i n g practices and may, i n the process set i n motion or reinforce patterns of blame and v i c t i m i z a t i o n . From the Buddhist perspective, such a problematic mental event would be noted (from a p o s i t i o n of psychophysiological calmness) and experienced i n i t s f u l l n e s s as e x i s t i n g i n the present. Following that, an appropriate antidote i n the form of a p a r t i c u l a r meditation would be applied. The antidote would focus s p e c i f i c a l l y and p r e c i s e l y on the q u a l i t y of the mental event as such and be oriented toward the resolution of the problematic thought/feeling i n the present and f o r the future. Thus, I continue to f i n d areas of contradiction, c o n f l i c t and confusion between my background and upbringing as a Westerner and my t r a i n i n g i n the Tibetan t r a d i t i o n . One of my teachers, Chagdud Tulku, Rinpoche, recently confirmed t h i s distance between psychological approaches to s u f f e r i n g and Buddhist are very great. Each perspective tends to r e i f y and reduces the other. Chagdud Rinpoche suggests that one of the greatest differences i s i n the two systems' understanding of cause, as suggested i n the example above. I f e e l l i k e I s u f f e r i n the gap between these extremes. Whereas psychology tends to locate the source of various types and degrees of su f f e r i n g i n experiences i n infancy and childhood. Buddhism holds that such experiences were themselves merely conditions or e f f e c t s of previous causes. Rather than attempt to unravel the source of su f f e r i n g i n past experiences then. Buddhism seeks to understand mind as i t i s presently structured and to apply appropriate antidotes to remedy the current (and future) causes of suf f e r i n g . Meditation, i n i t s various forms, i s such an antidote. I f e e l myself stretched between these views, swinging at times from one pole to the other. Presenting a biographical narrative of my l i f e , as above, creates a context and a r e a l i t y structure i n which a psychological approach makes sense. I can (imaginatively) percieve patterns of thought and behaviour i n my l i f e which seem to mirror "psycho-l o g i c a l " and interpersonally generated material from my infancy and childhood. At the same time, taking the Buddhist viewpoint and applying meditation as an antidote, such conceptualizations f a l l away and are replaced with an immediate sense of calm and c l a r i t y . It seems as though I am caught with a postmodernist dilemma of stance and p o s i t i o n akin to A r i s t o t l e ' s utterance, " i f I had but a place to stand, I could move the world". Indeed, i t i s not possible f o r me at t h i s time to neatly circumscribe a personal "story" with discrete beginning, middle and end. Each of these elements continues to s h i f t and take on new meanings, v a l i d a t i n g the relevance of the hermeneutic c i r c l e . The "end" i s located only i n the qu a l i t y of presence which I experience i n each succeeding moment. And within each of these h i s t o r i c a l moments, the meaning and very "location" of beginnings and intervening moments s h i f t s and changes. This very b r i e f summary of my hist o r y with meditation i s presented d i r e c t l y , naively. I have not attempted to understand my own experience f o r a psychodynamic or developmental point of view. The structure of the story seems to involve a development from confusion and lostness to meaning and coherence. It would be possible to extend and elaborate the story and to imbed i t within the larger l i f e h i s t o r y of my autobiography. With that perspective, an in t e r p r e t a t i o n of my experience with meditation would be re l a t e d to the h o l i s t i c movement of my l i f e i n i t s e n t i r e t y and hence may well reveal a d i f f e r e n t picture and a d i f f e r e n t structure of meanings. It w i l l be my task as t h i s research progresses to describe and interpret the long-term meditational path of others, not to "study" them as much as to learn from them and to better understand the role that meditation might play i n counselling p r a c t i c e . This b r i e f description of my own experience with meditation (and, by extension, a r e f l e x i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p with i t ) w i l l hopefully a s s i s t both myself and the reader to c l a r i f y my expectations and hence es t a b l i s h a greater degree of distance and o b j e c t i v i t y than would have been possible otherwise. CHAPTER FOUR: METHODOLOGY Having outlined the general area of int e r e s t i n the Chapter One, reviewed the relevant l i t e r a t u r e i n Chapter Two, and c l a r i f i e d my f a m i l i a r i t y with the phenomena, I w i l l now present the q u a l i t a t i v e methodology - multiple case study -that w i l l be u t i l i z e d f o r t h i s study. The question w i l l be restated. The design of the study, including sampling procedure, data c o l l e c t i o n , data analysis and results, w i l l then be presented. F i n a l l y , issues of the v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y of the study w i l l be addressed. Research question Having reviewed the relevant l i t e r a t u r e and explicated my assumptive world, the question which I wish to answer has been c l a r i f i e d : given the widespread use of meditation as an al t e r n a t i v e or adjunct to other views/methods of personal growth and change, I want to understand the pattern of experience involved i n the practice of meditation from the perspective of long-term meditators. A review of the l i t e r a t u r e to date has not provided t h i s . Once t h i s pattern or set of meanings by which the part i c i p a n t s understand t h e i r experience has been described, other questions concerning such subjects as motivation, therapeutic aspects and transpersonal aspects of meditation, may be illuminated. DESIGN The choice of research design i s dependent upon the question asked. Since the question posed here involves complex issues of meaning and purpose which possibly change through time, a methodology i s required which can provide a r i c h and detailed d e s c r i p t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l experience, coupled with an i n t e r p r e t i v e understanding of those descriptions. Given a concern with understanding the meaning that cer t a i n behaviours have fo r the indiv i d u a l s involved (Agar, 1986), the methodologies broadly described as ethnographic are most suitable. An ethnographic approach emphasizes an under-standing of cultures through a description of the ways that s p e c i f i c groups of people organize and/or create t h e i r " r e a l i t y " . The group with which we are presently interested i s that set of i n d i v i d u a l s who have grown up and been acculturated i n North America i n the l a t t e r h a l f of the Twentieth Century and who have long practised one of a number of forms of p s y c h o l o g i c a l / s p i r i t u a l t r a i n i n g transmitted from Asia and popularly known as "meditation". The assumption i m p l i c i t i n t h i s approach i s that a r i c h and accurate de s c r i p t i o n of the l i v e d experience of a small number of these people w i l l contribute to an understanding of the phenomena. In order to reach t h i s l e v e l of understanding, t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n w i l l u t i l i z e a v a r i e t y of f i e l d research known as the multiple case study. This approach u t i l i z e s in-depth interviews with knowledgeable infoirmants (and corroborative material when available) and the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of these retrospective accounts. The multiple case study has been chosen as the most appropriate design. Yin (19 89) suggests that the case study asks "how", "why" and "what", focuses on contemporary events, and does not require control over behavioural events. It i s h o l i s t i c , capable of presenting a phenomenon as a dynamic t o t a l i t y , or a sum of parts, rather than as i s o l a t e d fragments; i t presents a phenomena as i t i s experienced and l i v e d by the subject i n the world and attempts to grasp the meaning of experience for the indivi d u a l s involved; and thus, i t f a c i l i t a t e s a comprehensive understanding of the ess e n t i a l pattern of the experience under investigation. The multiple case study r e l i e s on a l o g i c of r e p l i c a t i o n , analogous to that used i n multiple experiments. Each case " i s considered akin to a single experiment, and the analysis must follow cross-experiment rather than within-experiment design and l o g i c " (Yin, 1989, p. 53). Each case i s selected f o r i t s a b i l i t y to confirm a p a r t i c u l a r theory or pattern by either revealing the same pattern - " l i t e r a l r e p l i c a t i o n " - or by contradicting i t i n a predictable or l o g i c a l way - "theoretical r e p l i c a t i o n " . This process of pattern-building or pattern-matching i s central to the analysis of the case studies. Each case study reveals p a r t i c u l a r patterns of the subject of intere s t which are then either confirmed or not i n subsequent cases. Patterns that are confirmed (as well as deviations from such patterns) among i n d i v i d u a l cases can be presented i n narrative format as a general account or story. When the patterns among the i n d i v i d u a l cases match, the i n t e r n a l v a l i d i t y of the study i s strengthened. The r e s u l t s of the multiple case study include a presentation of these patterns of both i n d i v i d u a l / p a r t i c u l a r and general experience of the phenomenon i n the context of the l i f e story. This w i l l permit an understanding of the phenomenon of long-term meditation i n the context of mental health and counselling. RESEARCH STEPS Having de t a i l e d the research questions and outlined the general approach to the problem, the research design w i l l be presented i n d e t a i l . The process begins with the review of the l i t e r a t u r e and ends with the presentation of the r e s u l t s to the research p a r t i c i p a n t s f o r corroboration and v a l i d a t i o n . The design includes the following steps: 1. L i t e r a t u r e review 2. C l a r i f i c a t i o n of the author's presuppositions 3. Development of interview issues 4. Interviews 5. Construction of co-researcher's s t o r i e s 6. V a l i d a t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s with co-researchers 7. Construction of the general story 8. V a l i d a t i o n of general story with co-researchers and independent experts. The role of the l i t e r a t u r e review Completion of the l i t e r a t u r e review marks the f i r s t step i n the research method. The l i t e r a t u r e review helps to define the problem, enables assessment of data, sharpens the capacity for surprise, creates distance, and provides a set of expectations the data can confirm or disconfirm (Mccracken, 1988). Secondly, the l i t e r a t u r e review begins to e s t a b l i s h the range of information being sought by the interviews, specifying categories and organizing c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s of data and relationships between them. In short, the l i t e r a t u r e review establishes both the framework for the interviews and the background against which they w i l l be examined and understood. The role of personal perspective i n the research program A unique q u a l i t y of ethnographic work i s r e f l e x i v i t y , the r e c i p r o c a l influences among the researcher and his or her "informants". R e f l e x i v i t y refers to the fact that one's own stance as expressed i n questions to the informants w i l l not only influence and shape t h e i r responses, but also that t h e i r responses w i l l influence one's own understanding and subsequent enquiries. Qualitative research therefore requires a c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the investigator's stance, which may i t s e l f undergo transformations as the research proceeds. McCracken (1988) refers to t h i s c l a r i f i c a t i o n as the "review of c u l t u r a l categories": The object of t h i s step i s to give the inves-t i g a t o r a more detailed or systematic appreciation of his or her personal experience with the topic of i n t e r e s t . It c a l l s f o r the minute examination of t h i s experience. The investigator must inventory and examine the associations, incidents, and assumptions that surround the topic i n his or her mind. (32) In phenomenological investigation, Husserl termed th i s c l a r i f i c a t i o n a "bracketing". It i s a common practice i n anthropological and s o c i o l o g i c a l f i e l d work and aids i n setti n g a context and i n providing both the general reader and the research community with an understanding of the "horizon of the l i f e - w o r l d " of the investigator. This e x p l i c a t i o n consists of a self-questioning which seeks to lay bare the fundamental assumptions that the investigator brings to the research, thus bringing to awareness hi s own presuppositions and biases. This self-questioning i s not f i n i s h e d once and for a l l . As the research proceeds through the phases of l i t e r a t u r e review, data c o l l e c t i o n and analysis, the i n i t i a l e x p l i c a t i o n of the researcher's assumptive world continues to s h i f t and change. It enters a dialogue, as i t were, with the varied voices of previous researchers and with those of the informants, and i s changed thereby. In the l a t t e r pages of the research document these changes can i n t h e i r own turn be explicated. As the author's history with meditation i s quite long and involved, i t requires considerable elaboration. For that reason, he has made the decision to include t h i s statement of personal perspective as the separate chapter preceding t h i s one. CO-RESEARCHERS The s e l e c t i o n of a sample i s a c r i t i c a l part of any s o c i a l science research. In research such as thi s which i s based on an ethnographic and q u a l i t a t i v e approach, the sample that i s selected i s not based p r i m a r i l y on i t s a b i l i t y to s t a t i s t i c a l l y represent a larger population. Indeed, the t r a d i t i o n a l language of "sampling", including the term "subject", may be inappropriate here. A d i s t i n c t i o n has been made between the respondent as a co-researcher as i n phenomenological research ( C o l a i z z i , 1978) and as a subject as i n t r a d i t i o n a l experiental research. The focus i n the former i s on mutual p a r t i c i p a t i o n and exploration of a common concern. Since the author regards t h i s study as such a project, the term co-researcher w i l l be used. Following the r e p l i c a t i o n l o g i c of the multiple case study, the author sought out ind i v i d u a l s who could provide exemplary accounts of the phenomena which could then be compared to reveal both common and contradictory patterns. The f i n a l accounts should be s i g n i f i c a n t , complete, clear, and engaging (Yin, 1989). The important factor i n the se l e c t i o n of the co-researchers i s the spec i a l knowledge which they have by v i r t u e of t h e i r unique experience of long-term meditation. There are many tr a d i t i o n s of meditation. The author assumes that each t r a d i t i o n may present d i f f e r e n t patterns of experience. In order to increase the l i k e l i h o o d that one p a r t i c u l a r pattern w i l l be revealed and because of his f a m i l i a r i t y with one of these t r a d i t i o n s i n p a r t i c u l a r , he has made the decision to l i m i t his co-researchers to p r a c t i t i o n e r s of one type of meditation, that of the Vajrayana Buddhist t r a d i t i o n of Tibet. By thus narrowing the focus, the author hopes to provide a s o l i d base against which other t r a d i t i o n s may be measured, compared and contrasted. Co-researchers were sought who have been engaged i n a practice of meditation f o r a minimum of ten years. Each of the CO-researchers i n t h i s study has been involved with one or more of several Tibetan Buddhist centres i n the Vancouver area and was chosen for his or her a b i l i t y to a r t i c u l a t e the experience. Four of the f i v e were personally known by the author p r i o r to the study and the f i f t h was introduced to him by one of these four. The f i v e co-researchers were chosen to include both men and women representing a range of socio-economic and educational backgrounds, as well as a v a r i e t y of ages (a range of thirteen years). This v a r i e t y was sought to provide as broad and as d e f i n i t i v e an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the phenomenon as possible. Theoret-i c a l l y , the number could have been increased i n d e f i n i t e l y increased i n d e f i n i t e l y but at a certain point no new and revelatory information would be forthcoming. Research approaches a saturation point at which themes of experience begin to repeat. Co-researcher descriptions Dylan i s f o r t y years old, born i n Winnipeg, Manitoba. He comes from a Jewish background and i s the oldest of two boys. He i s single, well-educated (with three degrees) and works as a Chiropractor. He has been meditating 13 years and at the time of his involvement with the research project was meditating approximately two hours per week. Since 1987, he had been involved i n psychotherapy which he described as "humanist transpersonal". Augusta, daughter of a Roman Catholic mother and Anglican-humanist father, was born i n LaFleche, Saskatchewan. An eldest daughter, she has two younger brothers. She i s married with one c h i l d , a daughter. She has a Bachelor of Education and i s a painter. She has been meditating since 1971, twenty years and currently meditates seven to ten hours a week. She has been intermitently involved i n a va r i e t y of therapies, including r e l a t i o n s h i p and personal counselling, over the past eight years. Hamish i s 45 years old and was born i n Toronto, Ontario to United Church and Anglican parents. He i s the older of two children, with a s i s t e r eight years younger than himself. He i s divorced and recently remarried and has two children and one st e p - c h i l d . He has a t o t a l of twenty-one years of education and works as a family therapist. He has been meditating f o r twenty-one years, since 1970, and currently meditates between f i v e and seven hours each week. He has been involved i n gestalt therapy in t e r m i t t e n t l y over the past four years. Sid i s 34 years old. He was born i n Sudbury, Ontario and i s the eldest of three brothers. He describes his parents as "sort of C h r i s t i a n " . He has a high school education. He currently works as a carpenter but i s about to continue his education at the post-secondary l e v e l i n the f i e l d of Child Care. He i s engaged to be married. He started meditating fourteen years ago and currently meditates seven hours a week. He has p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the t r a d i t i o n a l three year retreat of the Tibetan system of Buddhist t r a i n i n g . He has been involved i n counselling and dreambody work fo r the past one and a hal f years. Jane was born i n Charlotte, North Carolina, to Episcopalian parents, 47 years ago. She has one s i s t e r , ten years older than h e r s e l f . She divorced and remarried, and has one son. She has an M.A. i n Education and graduate t r a i n i n g i n Writing and L i t e r a t u r e . She works as a therapist and writer. She started meditating eighteen years ago, i n 1973. Currently, she averages 2 hours of meditation per week. She has been involved i n three discrete sets of counselling: two r e l a t i v e l y b r i e f sets of marriage counselling and a year and a h a l f process of recovery and co-dependency therapy. The p a r t i c i p a n t s as a group include three men and two women whose ages range from 34 to 47. Four out of f i v e are eldest children. Their meditation experience ranges from t h i r t e e n to twenty-one years, with a mean of approximately seventeen years. Each of them has been involved as a c l i e n t with counselling and/or psychotherapy and two have had experience as a counsellor or therapist. A l l have relocated from t h e i r place of b i r t h . This general and preliminary information i s presented to provide the reader with a context for the following section on the c o l l e c t i o n of data through intensive interviews. INTERVIEW PROCEDURES With the completion of the l i t e r a t u r e review and c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the author's own personal presuppositions and biases, the next step i n the research design i s the interview of the co-researchers. I t s purpose i s to reveal the experiences of the i n d i v i d u a l , over a long period of meditation. Each of the co-researchers was contacted by l e t t e r and then by phone and arrangements were made for an i n i t i a l meeting. The location of the meeting was determined by mutual consent. Generally, i t was i n the home of either the researcher or co-researcher, wherever the l a t t e r f e l t most comfortable. Following a review of the conditions of research, including c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , and signing the agreement to pa r t i c i p a t e , each co-researcher was given a set of biographical questions to provide baseline information about the co-researcher's l i f e These questions (see appendix) included the co-researcher's age, place of b i r t h , number and age of s i b l i n g s , marital status, r e l i g i o n of parents, years of schooling, length of involvement with meditation, i n t e n s i t y and current frequency of meditation practice, and involvement with counselling or psychotherapy (including type and duration). A f t e r the co-researcher had completed t h i s document, the author b r i e f l y explained h i s i n t e r e s t and motivations i n studying the subject. I attempted to e s t a b l i s h a climate of t r u s t and openness which would p e r s i s t throughout the interview. Since the aim of the interview i s to discover how the respondent sees the world, i t i s es s e n t i a l that the rel a t i o n s h i p provide a climate of trust and openness. Describing how the l i t e r a t u r e had thus f a r stressed short-term, experimental approaches to meditation, I explained that I was e n l i s t i n g the assistance of the co-researcher i n furthering an understanding of long-term meditation pr a c t i c e . I also t o l d the co-researchers that I hoped t h i s study would be of benefit to both meditators and to counsellors and therapists interested i n using meditation as an adjunct to t h e i r p r a c t i c e . The CO-researchers were t o l d that the interview had no set questions but would proceed rather as a focused conversation and that there were c e r t a i n areas of inter e s t , including motivation f o r practice, impact on relat i o n s h i p with others, the benefits experienced through meditation, the occurence and impact of any "transpersonal" experiences, and the role of therapy i n t h e i r l i v e s and i t s relationship to meditation. Only i f these areas had not previously been covered spontaneously would they be raised by the author i n the l a t t e r stages of the interview. However, i t was explained that the primary intent of the interview was to a s s i s t i n an understanding of the co-researcher's experience of meditation, beginning with h i s or her f i r s t contact with i t and continuing to the present. The interview generally began at that point with the question, "could you t e l l me how you f i r s t became involved with meditation?" This question usually brought f o r t h a long story, often beginning at a very early point i n the person's l i f e as they attempted to set a context for t h e i r involvement with meditation. I attempted to e l i c i t further information i n as unobtrusive, nondirective manner as possible (Brenner, 1985; McCracken, 1988). A t r u s t i n g and equal r e l a t i o n s h i p i s c r i t i c a l i n determining both the q u a l i t y and quantity of responses. Once the co-researcher had embarked upon the story, I encouraged the elaboration of the story, using a combination of active l i s t e n i n g , minimal prompts, questions of c l a r i f i c a t i o n and open-ended questions to enable the co-researcher to expand upon some topic they had raised. Leading questions were avoided i n an e f f o r t to minimize the interference of the author's own biases. The intent of these interactions was to permit the respondent to t e l l t h e i r story i n t h e i r own words, i n t h e i r own way, with minimum interference or d i r e c t i o n . Therefore the interviews were l a r g e l y unstructured, with questions asked to c l a r i f y of general themes or areas of i n t e r e s t . Generally, the co-researchers t o l d straight forward s t o r i e s of t h e i r experiences with meditation, followed by r e f l e c t i o n on some of the changes they had experienced i n t h e i r own l i v e s and the meaning that t h e i r practice of meditation currently holds f o r them. CONSTRUCTION OF ACCOUNTS "Story, not fact, defines human psychological l i f e , and i n t h i s sense psychological experience as story i s to be distinguished from a factual account of experience... a story i s pri m a r i l y a way of seeing, a guide, something which shows the way. It i s the manner, guise, or appearance of things, the way i n which things and human events appear. It i s the form and shape of things and human events, t h e i r eidos or what i s ess e n t i a l to them." - Romanyshyn, 1982, 86 Each interview was recorded on audiotape and then transcribed verbatim by the author using a dictaphone. This was done on a word processor, so that both a f i l e and hard copy were avail a b l e to work with. Once the t r a n s c r i p t i o n was complete the author constructed a narrative account of the coresearcher's story of h i s or her involvement with the long-term p r a c t i c e of meditation. The f i r s t step i n constructing a narrative account involved the development of a chronology. During the interview, co-researchers often described events out of sequence or switched back and forth between events to c l a r i f y s i g n i f i c a n c e . The task, then, i s to re-order the material of a t r a n s c r i p t into a time sequence. In t h i s task, events were r e l a t i v e l y easy to place i n a chronology. However, thematic meanings which pervaded an account were more d i f f i c u l t . Themes of meaning developed and i t was d i f f i c u l t to locate them as pre c i s e l y , i n part because l a t e r understandings might colour retrospective descriptions. Whether these themes of meaning are p r e c i s e l y accurate or not i n t h e i r place i n the chronology i s , i n one sense, secondary to t h e i r c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . How a person shapes an account reveals that person's orien t a t i o n to events (e.g., Kvale, 1987), how they are to be understood from that person's perspective. Once the tr a n s c r i p t material was ordered and dwelled on s u f f i c i e n t l y to have a d e t a i l e d grasp of the whole, the second step involved the actual writing of a narrative account. Since a major aim of straightening the tr a n s c r i p t story i s to maintain the perspective of the i n d i v i d u a l , to reveal his or her l i f e - w o r l d , a large part of the writing i s a r e l a t i v e l y straight-forward matter of using the person's own words. The co-researcher's descriptions were edited to eliminate redundancy, c l a r i f y meaning, and make e x p l i c i t connections that were i m p l i c i t l y taken for granted. During t h i s process, continued reference was made to the o r i g i n a l t r a n s c r i p t to avoid d i s t o r t i o n s and neglects. In working with a narrative, or s t o r i e d approach, we have two complementary purposes. One i s descriptive, accurately rendering the accounts already held by the informants to describe the narratives already held by individuals or groups. The second i s explanatory, explaining through narrative why something happened. Recounting the person's story leads to an expanded and deepened understanding of human experience i n the area i n question. This construction of each account "produces a document describing the narratives held i n or below awareness that make up the in t e r p r e t i v e schemes a people or community uses to e s t a b l i s h the si g n i f i c a n c e of past events and to anticipate the outcomes of possible future actions." (Polkinghorne, 19 88, 162) The key point of t h i s f o r research purposes i s that the story of the co-researcher i s revealing and comprehensive and i s presented with coherence and consistency. Once the sto r i e s have been developed, they are referred back to the partici p a n t s for v e r i f i c a t i o n . CONSTRUCTION OF A COMMON ACCOUNT In t h i s stage the i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s were examined and compared to each other to determine re l a t i o n s h i p s of s i m i l a r i t y and difference among the narratives. This stage involves the development of a general story from the p a r t i c u l a r s t o r i e s not only i n re l a t i o n s h i p to each other, but also i n re l a t i o n s h i p to the an a l y t i c and c u l t u r a l categories developed i n the l i t e r a t u r e review and s e l f -questioning. Thus, the strategy involves r e l y i n g on the "naive" descriptions of the pa r t i c i p a n t s and on the th e o r e t i c a l assumptions (Yin, 1989) that have been developed and explicated by the researcher. The author searches for common themes. As patterns and themes emerge from the in d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s , there i s an increasingly clear sense of the structures of the o v e r a l l pattern of the phenomenon. To accomplish t h i s , the s t o r i e s were read a number of times for a sense of the important elements. Then, the author returned to the verbatim t r a n s c r i p t s and using a word processor, recorded the key statements and phrases from each t r a n s c r i p t . These statements were coded by theme and co-researcher. When a l l the statements from each co-researcher was so recorded, they were then grouped according to theme. The clusters of themes became the organizing structure for the common account, which was constructed l i k e the ind i v i d u a l accounts as a narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end. Yin (19 89) refers to t h i s process as one of three dominant modes of analysis: pattern-matching. S p e c i f i c structures (e.g., common or s i m i l a r events, common or s i m i l a r meanings) among the i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s are presented as elements of cert a i n key themes or patterns. Again, the product of thi s stage i s a narrative i n which both common and id i o s y n c r a t i c elements of the various i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s are explicated. McCracken (1988), describes t h i s as: "A process of transformation (that) takes place i n which the c u l t u r a l categories that have been unearthed i n the interview become a n a l y t i c categories. By thi s time, one i s no longer ta l k i n g about the p a r t i c u l a r s of in d i v i d u a l l i v e s but about the general properties of thought and action within the community or group under study (46)". Having developed t h i s general story, the next stage i s again concerned with v e r i f i c a t i o n and v a l i d i t y . VALIDATION OF ACCOUNTS There were two steps to the v a l i d a t i o n process: one f o r the ind i v i d u a l s t o r i e s and one for the common account. As a f i n a l stage, the dra f t findings (in the form of both composite story and any other formal analysis) were reviewed by both research part i c i p a n t s and peers. Once the researcher f e l t that the story of each co-researcher accurately and exhaustively r e f l e c t e d his or her experience, i t was then presented to the co-researcher for v e r i f i c a t i o n , correction or c l a r i f i c a t i o n i n a subsequent interview. This interview was recorded i n turn and transcribed to provide the convenience and accuracy of a written record. Each CO-researcher was asked i f the story accurately r e f l e c t e d his or her experience and i f there were any additions, deletions or changes which they wished to make. As with the i n i t i a l interviews, these interactions took the form of an unstructured dialogue, l e d by the inte r e s t s and concerns of the co-researchers. Any changes were rewoven into the story, maintaining as precise a f i d e l i t y as possible to the richness of the co-researcher's experience and expression. The few corrections or c l a r i f i c a t i o n s made by the par t i c i p a n t s enhanced the accuracy of the study, increasing i t s construct v a l i d i t y . Agreement at t h i s stage concerning the accuracy and exhaustiveness of the s t o r i e s constituted the completion of t h i s aspect of the research. After each story had been validated as described, the general account was constructed and t h i s story was then read by each co-researcher as well as by an independent expert. Co-researchers were asked i f the general account s t i l l accurately r e f l e c t e d t h e i r experience. Any discrepancies or disagreements were noted. They were i n v i t e d to compare t h e i r responses to the general story with t h e i r reactions to t h e i r own i n d i v i d u a l story. F i n a l l y , the general story was presented to an independent and expert witness f o r his comments. The person involved i n t h i s capacity was Ken McLeod, a westerner who has himself been involved with the practice of Tibetan Buddhism fo r over twenty years, who underwent the t r a d i t i o n a l three year retreat twice, and who i s one of the few Westerners f u l l y authorized by the Tibetan masters to teach these t r a d i t i o n a l systems to others. Mr. McLeod i s currently the teacher i n residence at the Kagyu Centre i n Los Angeles and also works as a counsellor. In both roles, he i s concerned with the integration of the insights of Western psychology and psychotherapy and the Buddhist system of meditation. He has had a wealth of experience with numerous Western students. The author faxed Mr. McLeod a copy of the general account and had a series of conversations with him by phone. Mr. McLeod was asked to comment on whether the general account as presented was s i m i l a r or d i f f e r e n t to what he has seen i n other Western students of Buddhist meditation. As well, he was asked to comment upon the content of the general account i n r e l a t i o n to his understanding of the philosophical view and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism. CHAPTER FIVE RESULTS The findings of the research are displayed i n t h i s chapter. The narrative of each of the co-researchers i s presented, followed by the general story, a condensation of each of these s t o r i e s into one coherent account of the experience of long-time meditation. Prio r to t h i s presentation i s the v a l i d a t i o n of these accounts by the co-researchers themselves as well as that of the independent experts. Following the s t o r i e s i s an analysis of t h e i r common phases and a commentary on t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e . While the v a l i d a t i o n interviews resulted i n a number of small changes to the following s t o r i e s , each of the co-researchers confirmed the o v e r a l l v a l i d i t y of t h e i r respective accounts. Dylan likened the experience of reading his story to overhearing someone t a l k i n g about him i n a line-up outside a movie theatre. He could i d e n t i f y that he was the object of discussion but f e l t curiously estranged. In addition, he expressed surprise at how coherent a story had been developed from what he thought was a rather rambling account of his experience. He c l a r i f i e d his experience with Trogawa Rinpoche which i n i t s o r i g i n a l form had not s u f f i c i e n t l y stated the context of studying f o r his Board exams. Changes were made i n other accounts to correct factual errors, such as the number of brothers i n a family and the change of the lo c a t i o n of a s i g n i f i c a n t event. On occasion there were changes made i n emphasis as well. For example, i n the f i n a l account of Augusta's story, she emphasized that her grandmother had been an important model and source of support i n her early l i f e , while t h i s fact had been neglected i n the o r i g i n a l account. Another s i g n i f i c a n t adjustment i n her story concerned a sense of disappointment i n a teacher. In the v a l i d a t i o n interview she emphasized that she had never p a r t i c u l a r l y regarded t h i s man as a teacher and hence did not experience the disappointment o r i g i n a l l y depicted. The f i n a l version of each of these s t o r i e s was validated as written as accurately representing the experience of the co-researchers. Some of t h e i r confirmations were p a r t i c u l a r l y touching. Jane, f o r example, t o l d me that she wanted to send a copy of her story to her son, now attending college i n the Eastern U.S., so that he would understand more c l e a r l y her e a r l i e r experience and, i n consequence, his own. As well, she expressed p a r t i c u l a r pleasure i n the a b i l i t y of account to capture the rythmns and movement of her speech. Sid was s i m i l a r l y very pleased to see his story presented. He f e l t i t accurately portrayed his l i f e and commented upon the powerful impact i t had upon him to see i t o b j e c t i f i e d i n that way. A f t e r reading the general account he made the interesting comment that while his own story affirmed him for who he was, the general account was perhaps even more affirming because i t enabled him to see the commonalities he shared with the other co-researchers. This, he said, was the greatest v a l i d a t i o n and a source of r e a l empowerment. Reading the common account, he said, strengthened his desire to do more meditation. Hamish and Jane, along with the others, f e l t that the common account was an accurate expression of t h e i r experience and i n addition f e l t that i t would l i k e l y be h e l p f u l to both p r a c t i c i n g and p o t e n t i a l meditators. Following the v a l i d a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l and general accounts by the co-researchers, the general account was presented to the independent expert, Mr. Ken McLeod. His assessment was that the account was generally very f u l l and r i c h , and that i t was expressed c l e a r l y . He expressed a concern that the development of the stages through which a p r a c t i t i o n e r passed was not developed more e x p l i c i t l y i n the story. Subsequent to that comment, the headings of the various themes were included i n the text, which may have met t h i s concern to some extent. A f t e r expressing his agreement with the ov e r a l l thrust of the general account as well as several s p e c i f i c points which he suggested have been inadequately addressed i n the past (such as the c u l t u r a l l y oppositional nature of meditation and the ro l e of projection v i s a v i s the teacher), Mr. McLeod raised several s i g n i f i c a n t t h e o r e t i c a l points. Since the account as presented to him had previously been validated by the co-researchers as accurately r e f l e c t i n g t h e i r experience, i t would have been inappropriate to a l t e r the account to accomodate a d i f f e r e n t understanding. Consequently, the issues raised w i l l be addressed i n the concluding chapter. They deal p r i m a r i l y with the nature of the student-teacher re l a t i o n s h i p , the rel a t i o n s h i p bewteen meditation as such and s p i r i t u a l path, and the experience of "emptiness" or "groundlessness" as the f r u i t i o n of the path. Dylan's Story Dylan grew up i n Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he r e c a l l s the long and inclement weathers which he believes may have contributed to his personal s t y l e of being an "observer" through much of his l i f e . "I found myself being able to s i t at a window and look out at the world f o r the longest time, which f o r a c h i l d , some would c a l l i t daydreaming but i t was just t o t a l l y absorbed i n watching what was i n front of me without any sense of anything else I had to do." While sometimes experiencing t h i s sense of being a watcher i n negative terms, f e e l i n g l i k e a outsider, cut off from others, he also sees a p o s i t i v e side. Since childhood, he has had an a b i l i t y to experience "that state of r e s t f u l mind that a r i s e s from being i n that watchful state" a l l his l i f e and speculates that i t may have been inculcated through spending the f i r s t seven weeks of his l i f e i n an incubator. This natural stance of observer was instrumental to what he now fe e l s were glimpses of s p i r i t u a l i t y during his la t e adolescence and early twenties i n 1960s and 1970s, when he experimented with various psychedelic drugs, including marijuana, hashish, peyote and LSD. It seemed to him at that time that he had possessed more than the f i v e senses of the body, "that there was the p o s s i b i l i t y of the experience with other senses. And I could trust those other senses and even enter into that world, move through that other world that no one else seemed to be a part of, but that seemed as r i c h and as t a c t i l e to me as the common r e a l i t y that most of seemed to share." These experiences often took place i n natural settings with few other people around. During these times, Dylan worked with creative issues, seeking to enter into f u l l e r appreciation of what was happening around him. Because they had such "a mind-jolting and a l t e r i n g e f f e c t " , these experiences led him to some exploration of the ideas of meditation, r e l i g i o n and r e l i g i o u s absorptive states. For a while, i n an e f f o r t to extend the q u a l i t i e s of those experience and understand more f u l l y what they meant, he experimented with "ec s t a t i c schools of meditation, l i k e Jewish Hassidism, music oriented things and dance." They "seemed to draw out a part of me that I didn't understand but at least brought out a state of joy." However, i t was not u n t i l 1978, when Dylan was 27 and had just started his career i n natural healing, that he met someone who spoke to him about meditation as a contemplative s i t t i n g practice. As he says, Dylan wasn't drawn to meditation threw any p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t i n philosophy or t r a d i t i o n p a r t i c u l a r l y , but i t was t h i s meeting that got him interested. A f r i e n d i n v i t e d him to an i n i t i a t i o n on Compassion that was to be given by a Western teacher named Namgyal Rinpoche who was working i n the Vajrayana Buddhist t r a d i t i o n of Tibet. The idea of the i n i t i a t i o n intrigued him with i t s promise of the arcane and d i f f e r e n t and, more out of "dilettantishness than any deep desire (he) consciously f e l t " , Dylan attended the r i t u a l which was a c t u a l l y i n i n i t i a t i o n into the meditation of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Not only did he sort of " f a l l under the s p e l l of the ceremony" but he also found himself drawn to the teacher. "I was d e f i n i t e l y drawn into the magnetism of t h i s person. He had a sense of authority about him that was not heavy handed but which was c e r t a i n l y clear thinking. He had the impression of someone who you could admire or respect." Dylan at t h i s point had no idea of what Buddhism was about and none of the answers to his questions from other students r e a l l y "spoke" to him. So he started reading as much as he could, seeking out the few avai l a b l e books on Tibetan Buddhism i n p r i n t at that time, t r y i n g to reach some i n t e l l e c t u a l understanding of what he had experienced i n the ceremony. He began also to study with Namgyal Rinpoche and to s t a r t to meditating following his instructions on s i t t i n g meditation, watching the breath and doing vippasana. He notes that t h i s meditation had a calming e f f e c t on him but he didn't experience much of a difference i n his day to day l i f e . What was more noticeable was a s h i f t i n attention. The more time he spent studying with Namgyal Rinpoche, the more he began to develop an inte r e s t i n consciousness and as he did so, he became more and more curious about himself and his place i n the world. Thus, he developed an orientation to meditation which focused not so much on what happened when he was s i t t i n g , but more i n developing a s t y l e of d a i l y l i f e which made more sense to him. He noticed that he could bring a sense of meditation to both his work as a chiropractor and his avocation of writing poetry. Some time a f t e r meeting Namgyal Rinpoche, Dylan met another teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, t h i s time a " l i v i n g master" of the t r a d i t i o n named Kalu Rinpoche. Kalu Rinpoche was i n Canada to induct a number of Western students into a t r a d i t i o n a l three-year retreat and Dylan p a r t i c i p a t e d i n a six-week series of i n i t i a t i o n s and practices that the retreatants were to u t i l i z e over the retreat period. P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n these i n i t i a t i o n s was a profound experience. He sensed that the teacher was able to pass on his s p i r i t u a l knowledge and experience d i r e c t l y to himself and the other students. The i n i t i a t i o n s consisted of elaborate imaginai descriptions of numerous d e i t i e s , both peaceful and wrathful. Sometimes they would be i n front of you, or on your head, or within you. Sometimes you would imagine that you and the deity were one. The i n i t i a t i o n s would also include moments of powerful imageless awareness. It was as i f the d e i t i e s were "being given over by the teacher, as i f they take that image, put i t i n t h e i r hand and stamp i t on your forehead and a l l of a sudden, i t ' s there i n i t s f u l l glory within you and you can use that at any time," A r i s i n g from these i n i t i a t i o n s at t h i s time, and of c r i t i c a l importance to Dylan's further development was a deeper sense of what he has come to c a l l his " s p i r i t u a l body". He'd had glimpses of t h i s s p i r i t u a l body i n his e a r l i e r days with drugs and even e a r l i e r experiences of timelessness as a c h i l d , looking out the window i n Winnipeg. This was the f i r s t time he'd f e l t that i n terms of a meditative experience. It arose from his intensive p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the d a i l y cycles of i n i t i a t i o n with Kalu Rinpoche, of "everyday being involved i n the receiving of a s p i r i t u a l blueprint that you could take into your energetic memory and be able to then c a l l upon i t at any time because i t had been entered into your memory and a gate had been opened up and you had been given permission to walk into t h i s set of clothes and t r y these clothes on. You'd been introduced to i t and to have such a wide array of i n t e r n a l a l l i e s at one's disposal was quite empowering." Beginning from t h i s period, Dylan found that his perspective toward the world s h i f t e d . He describes t h i s as a discovery that "I probably had more patience for the world around me." During the retreat and for several months following, there was a sense of "blessing", experienced both psychologically and p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y . His body f e l t calmer and digestive t r a c t problems spontaneously cleared up. Relationships with other people seemed easier. His mind "wasn't as rampant i n i t s running around looking for things to involve i t s e l f with". Over the years, Dylan continued to meet and study with a v a r i e t y of teachers from the Tibetan t r a d i t i o n , learning and p r a c t i c i n g the various meditations which he learned from them. He has practiced vipassana, which he f i r s t learned from Namgyal, the contemplation of the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind, the four foundational practices, the Guru Yoga of Padmasambhava, and a v a r i e t y of deity yoga practices, including Vajrakilaya, Chenrezig, and Tara, among others. Each of these, i n t h e i r turn, has provided a focus of p r a c t i c e . While not always aware of any d i r e c t s p i r i t u a l impact, he trusts that t h e i r influence w i l l one day ripen. Meanwhile, he i s r e a d i l y aware of the power which they have to a f f e c t him p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y , relaxing him and slowing him down, permitting the mind rest more evenly on what he was doing. As important for him as the actual practices have been, Dylan refers often to the importance of his r e l a t i o n s h i p with the various teachers themselves. The sense of blessing that occurred following the i n i t i a t i o n retreat with Kalu Rinpoche was repeated following meetings with other teachers. This sense of well-being and c l a r i t y would remain with him f o r extended lengths of time, depending on various factors, including the q u a l i t i e s and the f e e l i n g of connection with the p a r t i c u l a r teacher and the length of the v i s i t . The connection with these teachers over the past f i f t e e n years has been l i k e a slingshot, "where they can take you upon t h e i r back; give you the experience and shoot you on to another dimension." Two years ago, i n 1989, while studying f o r his Naturopathic Board exams, Dylan had an powerful experience which i l l u s t r a t e s the impact of these relationships with his teachers. Having taken three weeks off work to prepare for the rigorous Board exams, he was immersed i n studies which were so intense that i t was l i k e a meditative concentration. In the midst of t h i s , he went to an i n i t i a t i o n into the Medicine Buddha being given by another Tibetan lama, Trogawa Rinpoche. "It wasn't just one unconscious part of me that was appreciating i t , but i t was f u l l conscious parts of me that were appreciating i t . I could f e e l that connection with Trogawa Rinpoche where i n fact he obviously noted i t too, because he stopped i n front of me and he would look at me i n a d i f f e r e n t way than he was looking before and make t h i s connection and at that point, I thought, 'yes, I can do t h i s . I can gain from t h i s experience and I do have the c a p a b i l i t y of doing i t ' . " His state of mind was perceived and acknowledged by the teacher. His confirmation and v a l i d a t i o n acted as an important marker of Dylan's development. At other times, i t would be a p a r t i c u l a r teaching that struck home, rather than the connection per se. For example, recently Chagdud Rinpoche le d him through a contemplation and meditation concerned with developing compassion f o r others: "seeing yourself as a source of pain for another person and to make the decision to remove yourself from that place so that you r e l i e v e the other person's pain was for me a profound way of seeing r e l a t i o n s h i p s . . . i t just resounded through my core. Now, i t ' s become part of my moral ethos and I have to examine that i n a l l s i t u a t i o n s that I'm i n . " Having established the connection with these various teachers and having practiced the meditation teachings and applied them to everyday l i f e , Dylan has also found a source of i n s p i r a t i o n i n the natural world. Among his most memorable meditation experiences, he r e c a l l s c e r t a i n v i v i d moments of vipassana meditation i n natural settings, "which l e t me experience the growth and regenerative nature of the planet i t s e l f and that's very nourishing: to a c t u a l l y experience temporal time as a rock experiences temporal time...to take on the q u a l i t i e s of a rock and be part of the world as a rock". He becomes aware of the f e e l i n g of the pulse of the earth i n his own body. This sense of f e e l i n g of connection with the earth has provided him with a moral context for understanding and responding to the global ecological c r i s i s . Over the l a s t f i f t e e n years, t r i p s to Greece, the Lake D i s t r i c t of England and, most recently Tibet, have impressed him with the sense of power places which have been able to enhance his p r a c t i c e and deepen his sense of s p i r i t u a l connection. In Tibet, he found that his connection with the s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n and teachers of that country contributed dramatically to his v i s i t . While he was there, his meditation practiced focused the on invocation of Guru Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, renowned fo r bringing Buddhism to that land. Everywhere one t r a v e l s , there are c u l t u r a l and geographical reminders of t h i s teacher's presence. Once again he had the f e e l i n g of p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the slingshot e f f e c t of the teacher and his t r a d i t i o n , of rapid s p i r i t u a l development due to the power of the teacher's p r a c t i c e . "In that landscape, whatever practice was being performed, you would have a more profound, deeper absorptive, more r e a d i l y e x p e r i e n t i a l " q u a l i t y to i t . "People I encountered, teachers, who I encountered, everything had a stronger impact and I learnt from each one of those things; I could f e e l the e f f e c t s reverberate through my core." While Dylan hopes that one day he may have the opportunity to do some intensive practice with p a r t i c u l a r meditation techniques, such as the Six Yogas of Naropa, on the whole, he finds what works best for him i s a potpourri of meditations that he has gathered over the years. These meditations on one hand c l a r i f y and support the cognitive teachings he has had from various teachers over the years, and from a d i f f e r e n t perspective, enable him to understand and orient himself to hi s ongoing flow of experience. As he r e f l e c t s on his development over the years, he notes a profound s h i f t i n relationships, c r e a t i v i t y and s p i r i t u a l awareness. Some of t h i s understanding has enhanced by his involvement i n psychotherapy. Noting that his experiences with psychotherapy over the past four years has been very complementary with his meditative practice, he has developed his own typology to make sense of his experiences. Essen t i a l to t h i s i s the sense that he has three bodies -physical, emotional and s p i r i t u a l . Each of these bodies has i t s own time scale: "my physical body has a certai n time, or temporal r e l a t i o n s h i p with the world, l i k e I could eat something and within twenty minutes, I might get a reaction to the food that i've eaten...then there's also an emotional s p a t i a l time, where I might be i n a s i t u a t i o n which might provoke a strong emotional reaction taking place, f o r instance anger, and I might not f e e l that anger f o r several hours later...but when something happens i n the s p i r i t u a l body, the change i s very profound. It's almost as i f there's a large piece of a gear i n a machine and i t f i n a l l y chunks into i t s place where i t has to f i t and i t ' s a resounding chunk that goes through every c e l l of my being and I can f e e l that something has happened and there's no way that i t ' s going to go back." Dylan f i r s t became aware of the s p i r i t u a l body during his experiments with psychedelic drugs but i n retrospect suspects seeing i t at play i n the contemplative c h i l d i n Winnipeg. Contact with Namgyal and Kalu Rinpoche refined his sense of i t . Changes on the s p i r i t u a l body occur perhaps over years and are i n i t i a t e d , catalyzed, and c r y s t a l l i z e d by a v a r i e t y of experiences. The t r i p to Tibet brought about such a s h i f t as do the meetings with teachers: "whenever I would a c t u a l l y encounter a teacher or someone who would a c t u a l l y embody those p r i n c i p l e s , that a l l of these things became marshalled or c r y s t a l l i z e d within me and diverted onto another l e v e l . " Other events corroborate and confirm h i s sense of s p i r i t u a l development: At an exhibit of Buddhist art i n London, he saw a granite statue of meditating monk. "It seemed to me i n looking at t h i s sculpture that a typhoon, a whirlwind, an earthquake, everything could be going around t h i s being who was meditating and nothing could change the way t h i s being was...those are sorts of things that seem to embellish one's s p i r i t u a l body and give one f a i t h to deal with one's emotional body." Meditation p r a c t i c e maintains a continuity f o r t h i s development and harmonizes the connection between the three bodies. Dylan's " s p i r i t u a l body" has remained a reference point f o r him through his years of pr a c t i c e . The health, growth and development of t h i s s p i r i t u a l body i n some sense i s the goal and aim of his meditation. It i s meditation i n i t s various forms, both formal and informal, that a s s i s t i n bringing Dylan back to the s p i r i t u a l body. At the same time, psychotherapy has been instrumental i n a c t i v a t i n g the "emotional body". The rel a t i o n s h i p between his physical, emotional, and s p i r i t u a l bodies i s central to his sense of both psychological and s p i r i t u a l development. Interestingly, while he maintains the importance of working with the emotional realm, i t was his s p i r i t u a l quest and his i n i t i a l connection which Namgyal Rinpoche which ale r t e d Dylan to the needs of his emotional body. When he was f i r s t spending time studying with Namgyal Rinpoche, he had an experience which moved him profoundly, r a i s i n g new questions about his motivation. Dylan, l a s t i n l i n e for an interview with the teacher, had been p a t i e n t l y waiting his turn. "He came out and said, 'right then, who's next?' 'Me, s i r ' . And he came and put his arm around me and led me into the room and as soon as he touched me i t was as i f I wanted to just f a l l i nto him, to be taken over by him, by the parent." He'd never experienced anything l i k e i t before and knew that he had to understand what t h i s overpowering f e e l i n g was about. Following t h i s , Dylan underwent a v a r i e t y of experiences with natural healing treatments and more recently, s t a r t i n g i n 1987, psychotherapy. The issue of "father" continued to surface. U n t i l the experience with Namgyal Rinpoche, his meditation teacher, spurred him on to learn about his father. U n t i l then, "through resistance or anger or whatever", he had avoided the whole area. Now, he began to see his father i n a new l i g h t , "with a whole l o t more compassion from the point of view of how he was acting out of only what he thought his role was, that of being a provider, but also his i n a b i l i t y to r e l a t e to his son as his father was probably unable to relate to him." In retrospect, i t began to become apparent that i n his i n i t i a l a t t r a c t i o n to Namgyal Rinpoche, Dylan had been seeking an absent father, "longing to be taught by a father". Thus Dylan worked with what he c a l l s the emotional body i n therapy, healing the pain that i s ca r r i e d there and coming to terms with e a r l i e r experiences with and f e e l i n g towards his father. But he notes that that work has had reverberations i n his s p i r i t u a l body as well. Now, he i s discovering that there i s a father element to his s p i r i t u a l body which i s connected to his a b i l i t y to learn from others and also to h i s desire, i n turn, to teach and nourish younger men as he gets older, to be i n turn a mentor. At t h i s point, finding that his active involvement with his healing vocation l i m i t s the time he has f o r formal meditation, he r e l i e s upon t h i s " s p i r i t u a l body" to guide him i n the course of d a i l y l i f e . He i s able to set aside only several hours several times a month to engage i n a formal meditative practice, at which times the meditation brings him back immediately to that s p i r i t u a l body: "It brings me back to opening my awareness of anything that could happen from i t . It's as i f I have a whole new sense of awareness... i n the kind of work I do , I f i n d that I work best when I l e t that s p i r i t u a l body become the vehicle for that exploration." When t h i s happens i t ' s as i f his sense of himself f a l l s away and he experiences himself, through an a l t e r a t i o n of focus, as "just the landscape that e x i s t s between us where someone i s , where I am, more of an energetic appreciation of the world between us rather than the physical body". Of course, he i s not always able to stay with that experience and sometimes his emotional body takes over and di r e c t s his i n t e r a c t i o n with others. Then, he has to make a conscious decision to d i f f e r e n t i a t e his own feelings, "to watch what i s a r i s i n g within and not project i t on the people I am working with, to keep them from being the recipient of my angst." His experience i n therapy has shown him the personal and h i s t o r i c a l sources of these patterns of his own pain and anguish. Re-experiencing the rages he was thrown i n as an infant by not getting what he wanted, has revealed to him how those early experiences have been stored i n his "body-memory, energetic-memory and neurological-memory". "Whenever anything happens throughout your l i f e , which seems to provoke any part of that , i t ' s l i k e the whole map coming out, time and again...the lineage of that emotion as i t echoes back through your l i f e t i m e . " R ecalling a recent instance of being thrown off balance, he describes being interrupted while working with a patient and reacting with intense anger, "both inappropriate and d i s r e s p e c t f u l " that was a l l h i s : " i t had nothing to do with anything else that was going on...I knew that daggers and swords had passed my l i p s and created irreparable damage and that the most immediate thing that I had to do on the planet was to resolve that issue and to restore that bridge." The tension between l i v i n g from the flow of the s p i r i t u a l body and the lineage of emotions within the emotional body. Dylan describes as " l i v i n g on the razor's edge." Meditation becomes a key to t h i s process. F i r s t l y , i t helps develop an awareness of the "lineage of emotional experience". In the example given above, while his outburst threw him off i n his interactions both with his immediate patient and f o r a greater part of the day, s t i l l Dylan c r e d i t s his experience with meditation with his a b i l i t y to notice, on the spot, the inappropriateness of h i s action. Even as he reacts from his "emotional body", he r e c o l l e c t s Chagdud Rinpoche's teachings on compassion. Over the years, he has noticed that he i s increasingly able to a c t u a l l y experience emotions on the spot and not be thrown off balance by them. Secondly, Dylan has worked with meditations s p e c i f i c to c e r t a i n emotional states, such as Vajrakilaya, a very f i e r c e , wrathful deity who embodies an enlightened transformation of anger. If unable to deal c r e a t i v e l y with anger on the spot, Dylan has found that he can take i t home, as i t were, to the meditation cushion, "and a c t u a l l y watch what i t does to me f i r s t , on the physical body, what i t gnarls up, where the armouring i s , and then to f e e l what i t does emotionally, and then to f e e l what i t does s p i r i t u a l l y . . . a n d the net e f f e c t seems to be a transforming of that anger into an understanding of that anger." In t h i s way, as well, meditation supports the therapeutic process as i t i s "very h e l p f u l for being able to develop an awareness of that lineage of emotional experience. In understanding (the echo e f f e c t of emotion), you r e a l i z e the steamroller e f f e c t , or the boulder r o l l i n g down a mountain that that emotion i s , and not that the emotion i s anything to be negated and cut o f f but i t ' s something that's a reminder of where you've been...so that you can deal with what's happening i n front of you now, as opposed to having a l l the excess baggage being thrown i n on top of i t . " The i n t e r a c t i o n of psychotherapy and meditation has been a potent source of growth f o r Dylan. Not only has the process uncovered his issues with his father and contributed to a major change i n t h e i r relationship, but t h e i r have been other benefits as well. "How I relate to people i n the world has altered...I f e e l I engage myself more with people than I d i d before. That watcher role that I talked about has been alt e r e d so that I can involve myself with other beings, as opposed to keeping myself separate." He i s much more comfortable with his father and interested i n "learning who he was from where he i s now," As such, he finds that he gets much more from the r e l a t i o n s h i p than he ever did as a c h i l d . To some extent, these changes can be understood i n terms of the development of compassion and morality previously expressed. In turn, these forces have been enhanced by the "courage to look into death" which i s such an i n t e g r a l part of Dylan's meditative t r a d i t i o n : "In the contemplations (on impermanence, death, and dying, I began to notice p a r t i c u l a r aspects of the whole process and then to be able to see that on a day-to-day basis, how we go through l i t t l e deaths and what that d i s s o l u t i o n involves... I've done my naturopathic/chiropractic work with that point of view always i n my mind." This awareness of death and impermanence becomes more and more stable as he practices: "I s t a r t seeing the world from that point of view as opposed to s l i p p i n g back to another aspect of i t . " His c r e a t i v i t y has also benefited from the practice of meditation, not only with his patients but also i n his writing and d a i l y l i f e : "I f e e l I'm much more of a creative person now than I was before I began t h i s process, because I can hear inner voices that need expressing now, whereas before I had no sense of those things and that has greatly enriched my l i f e . " Over the past f i f t e e n years, meditation has as s i s t e d Dylan on a path of ever increasing engagement with the world. The watcher has been transformed into a s p i r i t u a l body which provides room for a body of emotions. "Probably the biggest thing I have to learn, which again bounces back between psychotherapy and s p i r i t u a l practice, i s how do I reconcile what I, my ego needs, with what I s p i r i t u a l l y need and have a r e l a t i o n s h i p with somebody i n the process?...Where I am right now i s i n another cycle of dealing with issues that f i r s t come up perhaps i n therapy and then bounce back to my s p i r i t u a l practice as a context i n which to see i t and then back to therapy as a means of resolving i t as a t o o l . " For Dylan, meditation functions l i k e a tuning instrument, constantly bringing him back to his " s p i r i t u a l body". Acting from that base, he finds that his "perspective of the world has i r r e c o n c i l a b l y altered...when I a c t u a l l y think about how meditation has changed my l i f e , i t seems l i k e i n a l l aspects of i t . " Augusta's Story Augusta, eleven years old, i s s i t t i n g s i l e n t l y on a h i l l i n Saskatchewan with her fr i e n d . As she gazes up at the sky and the stars appearing i n the gathering darkness, she i s struck by the magic and the immensity of i t . Somehow, the teachings about the meaning of l i f e that surround her, even at t h i s age, do not seem to answer the questions that she i s beginning to pose. The mother's side of the family i s Catholic, her father's protestant and there i s f r i c t i o n between them. Augusta i s only eleven when her mother dies. Her maternal grandfather buries her i n the Catholic cemetery and has the father's name removed from the headstone. The Church and the influence of her maternal Grandmother had been strong. There was a sense of mystery i n the r i t u a l s of communion and the ideas of i n s u b s t a n t i a l i t y of the Body of Chr i s t . She was t o l d that l i f e was about being a good person, going to Church and being rewarded at death with Heaven. Following the death of her mother, and the family tensions which surrounded her then, Augusta's sense of the inadequacy of the Church and the hypocrisy of the p r i e s t and parishioners started to grow. Her father worked for the Local Improvement D i s t r i c t and as such was involved with the co-operative s p i r i t of the P r a i r i e s . Not only did he a s s i s t farmers with road b u i l d i n g and farm improvement, but Kathy remembers him befriending Native people when they were s t i l l excluded from restaurants and bars. With her father she discussed ethics, morality and disdain f o r hypocrisy. Materialism and the pursuit of wealth seem ignoble. There must be a greater purpose to l i f e . Through her early adolescence, she started to question the r o l e of the Church i n people's l i v e s , coming to view i t more and more as an instrument of s o c i a l control, part of the pursuit f o r power. Her disdain for exclusion and p r i v i l e g e developed through t h i s time and her break with the Church culminated when the p r i e s t refused to allow her younger brother to accompany the other a l t a r boys on a t r i p to Disneyland because he had made fun of the p r i e s t . The hypocrisy and small mindedness had become too much for her. It seemed there were few wise persons with whom to consult, to provide meaning and o r i e n t a t i o n i n l i f e . The one exception to t h i s was her paternal grandmother, "who acted as a touchstone f o r many people i n my world." Her grancîmother provided an important model of somehow who had consciously worked on r e f i n i n g her awareness and compassion and was thereby able to share a g i f t of wisdom. She went to u n i v e r s i t y at 17, i n the mid-sixties, where her e f f o r t to understand her experience brought her to philosophy and other humanities courses and ultimately to psychedelics. By the early seventies, she had moved to Vancouver where one day, her boyfriend noticed a poster announcing a t a l k with a Western meditation teacher at the new coffee house on 4th Avenue, the "Naam", This teacher suggested Augusta go and see Kalu Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, who was at that time about to v i s i t Vancouver on his f i r s t t r i p to the West. Augusta went to a t a l k with Kalu Rinpoche, knowing nothing about meditation and had "some kind of very supernormal experience" when she saw him: "the energy loosened up somehow...there was a sense of intense power ancd colour and richness." Feeling strong connections now, she continued to attend his t a l k s . When he l e f t she started studying at the Centre which he had begun near 14th and Heather, continuing to study with the Lama who had remained as a resident teacher. At l a s t , i t seemed l i k e there was someone, some group of people, who could respond to the questions which Augusta had been carrying with her for so long. Previously, no one had seemed to have any concern for understanding, and as she puts i t , "when I a c t u a l l y saw someone who talked about Mind, the nature of Mind, I f e l t l i k e I'd come home." It was " l i k e water to a parched person bred i n the desert of Western culture her whole l i f e time." Instead of being t o l d to be a good person so she could go to Heaven, f i n a l l y , someone could speak to her about her experience i n language that made sense. She had what she f e l t was a good heart, a sense of caring about people. She had been "staring into her own being f o r the meaning with psychedelics and sociology and psychology f o r some time, but nobody'd ever had so much wisdom, wisdom that was not just i n t e l l e c t u a l . " The teachings made sense to her i n a "real way". "When Kalu Rinpoche would speak about mind as empty, clear and unimpeded, i t seemed absolutely clear, that was the way i t i s . at least to me, that's how i t i s . " "Nobody else had ever been that gentle and that aware." It was his gentleness, she believes that made the connection. She f e l t that i n his presence always and heard i t also i n his concern f o r those who suffer, i n marked contrast to her e a r l i e r experience with the Saskatchewan Catholics whose attitude was, "too bad for them, but we'll f e e l r e a l good i n heaven." Kalu Rinpoche's gentleness was instrumental as well i n Augusta's f i r s t experiences with meditation. Kalu Rinpoche i n i t i a l l y taught Chenrezig, meditation on the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Attending group meditations with Kalu Rinpoche gave her her f i r s t glimpse into what has become, over the years, the essence of meditation: l e t t i n g the mind rest. Following Rinpoche's instructions, she found that she could r e a d i l y use the v i s u a l i z a t i o n as a "very be a u t i f u l support you could b u i l d up and rest with". Her favourite part of the meditation was l e t t i n g the mind rest following the d i s s o l u t i o n of that v i s u a l i z a t i o n . She threw herself into the meditation p r a c t i c e and soon was doing ngun-dro, or the Foundation Practices, as well as Chenrezig. Soon, she and her boyfriend took over the operation of the Centre from the western couple who had brought Kalu Rinpoche to Canada. They took care of the Lama, cooked, and orchestrated the schedule of the Centre. She d i d her 100,000 prostrations quickly, reveling i n the energy and c l a r i t y which they brought her. However, her joy at finding a source of meaning and the commitment to pursue i t had a shadow. She became a "Tibetophile". "I thought a l l Tibetans were l i k e angels, and the way to enlightenment was to become a Tibetan, to adopt that c u l t u r a l heritage." A f t e r the magical connection with Rinpoche, she had plunged into becoming a "good d i s c i p l e " , doing Tibetan meditations, wearing Tibetan clothes and learning the Tibetan language. During t h i s period, she f e l t l i k e she was engaged i n something very sp e c i a l and since she was sp e c i a l she had to be a very good student. In retrospect, i t now seems l i k e a "sort of abnegation of your personal worth and taking on t h i s whole mass or body of information as i f i t ' s going to save you from your ignorance". Slowly, the s i t u a t i o n became uncomfortable. It might have been i n part seeing t h e i r own behaviour mirrored by other Westerners who were also surrendering t h e i r own i d e n t i t y , but Augusta and her boyfriend found themselves t r y i n g to distance themselves from what increasingly appeared to be an unhealthy s i t u a t i o n . "We were just getting sick of the slavishness of the Westerners abnegating t h e i r personal worth and bowing down before the Tibetans." While attending a v i s i t i n g lama, they found themselves spiking t h e i r orange j u i c e with apricot brandy. They started to r e a l i z e they would have to leave. At about t h i s time, as well, Augusta had progressed to the next stage of Ngun-dro, Dorje-Sempa, a p u r i f i c a t i o n p r a c t i c e . While doing t h i s practice while she was i n retreat with another student up the coast, she had a very powerful experience which was to further distance herself from the Centre, She experienced a continuing waking fantasy of standing up, getting a knife from the kitchen and going to stab the other woman. Alarmed and bewildered by this thought, she determined that she would rather stab herself. Fearful that she might be overcome by these impulses, she returned to Vancouver f o r advice from the resident teacher, but a l l he could say was, "oh, very bad". This was her f i r s t major disappointment with someone from the Tibetan t r a d i t i o n , a missed opportunity to explore "something very potent that could have been very il l u m i n a t i n g , " The Lama f a i l e d to help her to understand her experience and her own mind at t h i s c r i t i c a l juncture. Nevertheless, she made a clea r separation between t h i s p a r t i c u l a r teacher and the body of teachings that was the Tibetan t r a d i t i o n , Augusta's development of a more c r i t i c a l a t t itude at t h i s point was catalyzed to some extent by her boyfriend, Oliver, His meditation p r a c t i c e had begun to diminish as the resu l t of powerful and sometimes overwhelming experiences, with which he too recieved minimal assistance. While Augusta continued to p e r s i s t with her meditation, both Chenrezig and Ngun-dro, she and Henry moved out of the Dharma Centre and separated. She moved i n with two other women students and began preparations to enter the t r a d i t i o n a l three year retreat, studying Tibetan and continuing the meditation practices of Ngun-dro, s p e c i f i c a l l y mandala practice. Her on-again o f f-again r e l a t i o n s h i p with O l i v e r was resolved when she became pregnant. Putting aside her desire to do the retreat, she continued with Guru Yoga practice throughout her pregnancy u n t i l the b i r t h of her daughter. "Everyone else went into retreat and that's when I had the big break with the Ngun-dro pr a c t i c e . " It was years before she completed the Guru Yoga p r a c t i c e . This was a confusing time f o r Augusta. She "wrestled" with her practice as doubt and f a i t h c o n f l i c t e d . She had moved again, into a house with two male friends who were involved i n the study of Sufism and were very c r i t i c a l of Buddhism. For a while, she stopped meditating altogether and ceased her involvement with Buddhism. Her re l a t i o n s h i p with O l i v e r was up and down. "It got r e a l l y strange and I remember I thought I was loosing my grip on r e a l i t y . . . I was f e e l i n g very confused and f e e l i n g very alienated." She reached out again to O l i v e r and when she started doing Chenrezig pr a c t i c e again, she started to calm down. In 1977, Augusta and Ol i v e r married and moved to Saltspring Island with t h e i r daughter Isadora. While she wanted to continue meditating and studing Buddhism, Augusta had undergone a fundamental change following her period of questioning. "After that, I was never interested i n the c u l t u r a l baggage of Buddhism. I only wanted to understand what was important and anything that would make me f e e l self-important was questionable." On Saltspring, Augusta and O l i v e r were i n an automobile accident. Isadora was thrown from the car and suffered severe head injury. In Augusta's desparation, she turned to her Chenrezig practice to p u l l her through, and contrary to what she understood i n t e l l e c t u a l l y about the practice, appealed to the deity almost as an external source of comfort, solace and assistance, " l i k e a l i f e r a f t " . This c r i s i s " r e a l l y reconnected" her to her meditation p r a c t i c e . The family returned to Vancouver and Augusta set up a shrine and started to develop a regular p r a c t i c e for the f i r s t time i n several years. She had her own room, where she drew, painted and meditated. At t h i s time, a l o t of her practice was "just l e t t i n g the mind rest. I was r e a l l y interested i n Mahamudra." After a while she also returned to the Guru Yoga practice which had been interrupted several years before, f i n i s h i n g t h i s just before Kalu Rinpoche returned on one of his l a s t v i s i t s to North America. At t h i s time, an interview with Kalu Rinpoche marked a s i g n i f i c a n t turning i n Augusta's development. She had found herself struggling to take care of her daughter who had become mildly handicapped as a r e s u l t of the accident, to work through a problematic rela t i o n s h i p , and try i n g to make sense of a powerful a t t r a c t i o n to another man. Being aware that Rinpoche, due to his advancing years, would not be accessible forever, Augusta determined to r e l a t e d i r e c t l y with him. "I didn't want to just ask him about Ngun-dro, or about yidam p r a c t i c e . I wanted to ask him about my personal experience, even i f i t was stupid. I didn't care. I just wanted to know. How to deal with i t . " Augusta refers to the content of that interview as being c r u c i a l to her development i n several ways. She becomes t e a r f u l as she r e f l e c t s on i t s impact, reminded again by the gentleness and c l a r i t y of the teacher, the sense of r e a l l y being l i s t e n e d to, and how his presence seemed to respond to a l l the a l i e n a t i o n and a r i d i t y of our own culture. In that interview, when Augusta talked about her a t t r a c t i o n to her fri e n d , Rinpoche advised her to look d i r e c t l y into the essence of the feelings as they arose. Working with t h i s , both on the spot and i n her meditation, she r e c a l l s that "I started to see the q u a l i t i e s that I was personally attracted to and so I could s t a r t to recognize humour, wit, warmth, b r i l l i a n c e of mind, and I started to r e a l i z e what i t was that I found so appealing and see them i n my own mind. So i t wasn't so important to go seeking them out i n someone else." As, well, the concept of emptiness was much more re a l f o r her. Instead of being something or someone s o l i d , i t was suddenly cl e a r that there was only a c o l l e c t i o n of q u a l i t i e s , and so her attachment "began to f a l l away". In Vancouver, while Isadora continued to recover, the long-standing l e g a l wrangling over the settlement was s t i l l being resolved. Augusta and O l i v e r found themselves stretched to the breaking point with the medical, educational and s o c i a l needs of Isadora. "Oliver would f r o t h at the mouth at the end. It was dreadful. L i f e was a mess." Augusta, i n p a r t i c u l a r , was f e e l i n g desperate. She had to get away from the hectic pace of the c i t y . The family decided to return to S altspring but f i r s t needed to convince the public trust that that was the best plan. In retrospect, i t seems l i k e the desire to return to Saltspring "had to do with resolving what had happened there." They were succesful i n t h e i r claim and they moved back to Saltspring i n 1985. Augusta began meditating regularly, four times a day. "I wanted i t to be l i k e I was brushing my teeth. No b i g deal. That's how I wanted meditation to be and so I did, that came about, that attitude where i t became reasonably relaxed. Instead of being something I had to do, yet another duty, yet another thing I had to do to be a good person, i t was an act of pleasure: to s i t on my cushion and take a l i t t l e break." The f i v e years on Saltspring, from 1985 to 1990 resulted i n a r e a l ripening of Augusta's pr a c t i c e . "The experience of meditating r e g u l a r l y gave me a r e a l spacious f e e l i n g i n my mind and I f e l t l e s s pushed and p u l l e d by events and a sense of c l a r i t y and I wasn't run out by my experience." At t h i s point, she continues to p r a c t i c e regularly, working with several d i f f e r e n t meditations, including Green Tara, prostrations, Mahamudra, Vajrakilaya, and confession. To each of them however, she brings attempts to bring the same view ("just whatever arises look at the essence") and the same attitude ("gentleness"). Her approach to meditation today, she says, i s much more "experimental" than when she began. At that point, she adhered rather e x c l u s i v e l y to the Chenrezig and Ngun-dro practices, performing them with di l i g e n c e . Now, "I'm not so attached to a form...my practice i s more rela t e d to whatever ar i s e s at the moment." As a r e s u l t , she finds her r e l a t i o n s h i p with others altered. The Buddhist concept of compassion has become integrated into her experience. She gives the example of waking up i n the morning to f i n d Oliver's d i r t y ashtrays and finds that she no longer gets so annoyed and involved i n a cycle of anger, incrimination and self-reference. "To me, compassion i s the a b i l i t y to r e l a t e to the s p e c i f i c moment, without wanting to screw him into the ground, because you have that open spacious q u a l i t y where you can do that." This i s i n marked contrast with how she remembers herself when she was young, a q u a l i t y she observed i n her father and a state to which she s t i l l occasionally returns and makes her f e e l miserable: "the f e e l i n g that something was always wrong. that i t was supposed to be a d i f f e r e n t way, that's the in s e c u r i t y of a fi x e d point of view." Over the years, Augusta's meditation has helped her develop and refine the sense of spaciousness that she f i r s t glimpsed back i n 19 72, doing group Chenrezig p r a c t i c e with Kalu Rinpche. Of meditation now, she reports, "I just have t h i s f e e l i n g of open spaciousness. I don't f e e l constricted . I'm s i t t i n g here and there's a l l t h i s open space around me and that to me i s very important." This spaciousness i s rel a t e d to l e t t i n g the mind rest n a t u r a l l y and the r e s u l t i n g experience of gentleness. As a r e s u l t of t h i s spaciousness and gentleness, she feels able to counteract the sense of self-importance that has been so i n i m i c a l to her since adolescence. Accordingly, i t enhances her openness to others. "If you approach your p r a c t i c e with an a t t i t u d e of gentleness with yourself, that seems to include to me that you're not doing anything s p e c i a l . That i t ' s no big d e a l . . . i f you can just relax and be gentle with yourself, then you're not going to want to go around being harsh on others because you're not being harsh on yourself." This element of attitude and motivation i s c r i t i c a l to Augusta's meditation. When Oliver has challenged her over the years with suggestions that she i s indeed either t r y i n g to secure herself or escape from pain, eit h e r her own or the world's, she has taken the challenges to heart. She has purposely stopped meditating on such occasions. As a r e s u l t of such experimentation, she has experienced a marked difference i n her f e e l i n g state and has become aware of how important meditation i s i n terms of emotional comfort: "I'd s t a r t f e e l i n g paranoid; I'd s t a r t to f e e l depressed; I'd s t a r t to f e e l that things weren't going r i g h t . . . a sense of danger... that your l i f e i s going nowhere and you're not r e a l l y able to benefit others because what are you doing with l i f e , not much." This experience i s i n marked contrast to the dominant tone upon resumption of p r a c t i c e : "whereas i f I meditated, whatever ar o s e . . . i f I was meditating reg u l a r l y I would just do them and i t would be f i n e " . "If O l i v e r and I were having a quarrel, i f a quarrel was developing I found that i f was meditating regularly, I wouldn't be so swept away by i t . I'd be able to discuss i t without becoming swept away by the anger. I could s t i l l f e e l the anger but I wouldn't become b i t t e r and r e s e n t f u l . There seemed to be a l i t t l e more room to r e l a t e to him without wanting him to be a certain way and be annoyed with him i f he wasn't. It was just more simple, I guess." Worried about using meditation as a crutch, she has discovered that while i t makes her l i f e workable, i t doesn't r e a l l y o b l i t e r a t e the pain. "It hasn't gone away. It doesn't go away. I f e e l i t . I t ' s not any less ; i t ' s just that I'm not unable to get out of bed i n the morning." Indeed, meditation i s what enables her to f u l f i l l her goal of being a help f u l person and the essence of that, she discovers i n communication. "I f i n d that when I meditate I am more able to r e l a t e to people: when I go to the store, I ta l k to the person...I r e a l l y connect with people...and to me to be able to connect with someone, r e a l l y and t r u l y with them and not be offended or a f r a i d and a l l the things that separate you, that make us f e e l we can't be there with that person, to me that's meaningful. People seem to respond, you know, when you respond with some kind of open honesty. There seems to be a r e a l rapport with the other person." Star t i n g with the s t r e s s f u l period i n Vancouver a f t e r Isadora's accident and over the years, as well as meditating, Augusta has had some psychotherapy. While valuing both processes, she makes clea r d i s t i n c t i o n s between the focus and value of each. "Both the practice of meditation and therapy enable you to become a more functional human being, so you can be more aware of what you're doing and to be more a l i v e . " For Augusta, they are complementary processes. When Rinpoche and other lamas were around, and meditation practice was going smoothly, l i f e would unfold without much problem. But at times, t h i s was not the case. Even though meditation was useful, she needed "something more personal...The teachers didn't r e a l l y understand the p a r t i c u l a r neuroses of the highly sophisticated Western mind." Western counsellors and therapists could u t i l i z e an understanding of the culture s p e c i f i c patterns involved i n a l c o h o l i c f a m i l i e s , f o r example. Therapy, for Augusta, released "a l o t of very powerful emotions and the meditative practice made me able to accomodate them i n the sense of having enough room to experience them." "Therapy helps me see the way I f e e l the way I do. I understand i t better. To me, what oppresses me i s when I'm confused and I don't understand why I'm responding or reacting i n a c e r t a i n way." While therapy then, provides both emotional release and insight into patterns, meditation "allows you to develop a cert a i n amount of spaciousness so that you can notice what you are doing." She refers again to the arousal of various degrees of fear, paranoia, and depression. A f t e r reaching a new understanding of these patterns i n therapy, she finds she can return to her meditation cushion and develop greater c l a r i t y there. As well, meditation gives r i s e to "a c e r t a i n amount of energy...when I meditate regularly, I have a l o t more energy. I sleep l e s s . " The processes of meditation and therapy seem to reinforce each other. While therapy provides insights that are very s p e c i f i c to the i n d i v i d u a l , the experiences of meditation reveal and support philosophical understandings which give meaning to l i f e . For example, Augusta's meditations have included contemplations on a set of perspectives on r e a l i t y that are central to Buddhism and are known variously as the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind (actually the i n i t i a l phase of the Ngun-dro practice) and the Four Noble Truths. " ' L i f e i s s u f f e r i n g ' . Nobody t o l d me that before I ran into a Buddhist. I thought you were supposed to be happy. I thought there was something wrong with you i f you f e l t s u f f e r i n g . " S i m i l a r l y , contemplations on interdependence, karma, impermanence which become exp e r i e n t i a l through meditation each "make the experience of l i f e more understandable". There has been something profoundly therapeutic i n Augusta's meditative involvement with these concepts. Of impermanence, she remarks, "I haven't noticed anything permanent. I love i t . I think that's why I s t a r t to cry and st u f f , because I looked and looked with such longing f o r so long for somebody who just spoke the truth, you know, just said look at our experience. This i s how i t i s . And here i t i s . I t ' s true and i t ' s such a r e l i e f , God, I mean, because there's so much conscious perpetration of ignorance i n the world, that to come across people that are a c t u a l l y engaged i n revealing the truth to me..." This broader perspective balances as well the way Augusta relates to her emotions. She r e c a l l e d that even as a c h i l d , she was aware of the power of emotions and the c l a r i t y and energy within anger. For a long time, she knew she needed to work with and to understand her emotions. She discovered that therapy released a l o t of emotions and comments on the overwhelming q u a l i t y of some of them. When Kalu Rinpoche gave her the i n s t r u c t i o n about looking into the essence of emotions, he had also t o l d her that the mind and emotions are l i k e waves and with the development of meditation, the more powerful the emotions, the less problem they w i l l present: "and as I practice more, I have more a b i l i t y to accomodate the emotions and experience them and learn from them rather than be swept away, not that I'm pushing them down or anything. I'm more able for them to a r i s e and be experienced." Through meditation, Augusta has become increasingly aware of the r e l a t i o n between her body and her f e e l i n g s . Now, when meditating on Green Tara, she may become aware of "a l i g h t coming through your body and I'm aware of structures i n the body. I notice that when the l i g h t comes through, I'm conscious of wanting i t to go a certa i n place and not be stuck... A l o t of emotions are stuck i n my throat. Like i n that prayer, the Mahamudra prayer, when you pray for deep sorrow. I already f e e l such deep sorrow." For a while now, she has returned to painting. She has been working with imagery of the body, p a r t i c u l a r l y of the heart, several images of which express wounding or binding. There i s a sense of coping on the one hand with the deep sorrow occassioned by l i f e ' s sufferings including both her own personal pain and the "deep wrong" of the imposition of "our petty minded materialism on the land and the (native) people here", and on the other hand of the tears of devotion which she f e e l s f o r Kalu Rinpoche and her other meditation teachers. As she ponders the impact that meditation has had on her l i f e over the years, along with the development of a more "active c r i t i c a l i n t e l l i g e n c e " , she notes also f e e l i n g much more "ease": "I f e e l more at ease, more often, with myself...before I used to be very, I used to r e a l l y check out and t r y to adapt to situations, t r y to do the thing that was acceptable within the l i m i t s of the s i t u a t i o n s . Now I'm more at ease with myself. That's a very b ig difference." She no longer r e l i e s on external v a l i d a t i o n , doesn't need recognition from others. As she meditates, Augusta no longer struggles with old feelings of i n f e r i o r i t y : "I remember when I was quite young, I used to have t h i s f e e l i n g that somebody else had i t figured out and I didn't and I was always eith e r walking a fence, not wanting to take sides and not knowing what to do or being on the wrong side and I don't have that anymore." The r e s u l t i n g sense of relaxation and freedom i s profound, freeing her to connect with the world, answering both her early quest f o r meaning and her desire f o r s o l i d a r i t y and i n c l u s i o n with others. Interestingly, the b l i s s which she once expected from meditation she now tends to f i n d with others i n the world, under, "extremely ordinary conditions, l i k e being with a p a r t i c u l a r person at the bookstore...and we'd be t a l k i n g and I'd just have t h i s intense f e e l i n g of b l i s s a l l through my whole body". Paradoxically, the questions stimulated by the awe and mystery gazing into the Saskatchewan sky i s now answered i n the mundane experience of t a l k i n g with a shop clerk i n a book store. The endless space beyond has opened into the space within the moment and the gentleness within that opening has melted the harshness of self-importance and exclusions of her youth. Meditation has a s s i s t e d i n t h i s revolution of view captured i n a quotation from the Mahamudra t r a d i t i o n to which Augusta frequently refers If you look for i t , you won't f i n d i t ; But i f you look not wandering, y o u ' l l see. If you hold i t , you won't hold i t . If you relax, i t stays. If you t r y to stop i t , you won't stop i t ; Whatever arises look at the essence. Remember, t h i s i s heart news. Remember i t and keep i t i n your mind. Hamish's Story In his childhood i n 1950s Southern Ontario, Hamish met some Buddhists from Thailand. He r e c a l l s being curious about them and t h i s thing c a l l e d "Buddhism". Aside from that event, he doesn't remember anything s p e c i f i c from his early years that would have i n c l i n e d him towards his involvement of meditation l a t e r on. However, i n h i s adolescence he began to be aware of shortcomings i n the Western s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n of C h r i s t i a n i t y and began reading about other kinds of s p i r i t u a l p r a c t i c e . Often, those writings, such those by A l l a n Watts, would mention meditation. However, i t wasn't u n t i l the early 1970s, as a graduate student at a u n i v e r s i t y i n Pittsburgh, that Hamish started looking again at the p o s s i b i l i t y of a personal relevance for meditation. He found himself caught up i n the great "explosion" of i n t e r e s t i n s p i r i t u a l i t y and a l t e r n a t i v e l i f e s t y l e s of the time. Interwoven with the current c u l t u r a l f a s c i n a t i o n with psychedelic drugs, meditation seemed to o f f e r an a l t e r n a t i v e to the otherwise l i m i t e d and l i m i t i n g s p i r i t u a l and s o c i a l options that Hamish saw about him. Experimentation with psychedelics led to some "powerful experiences... that suggested there was some other realm. that was r i c h e r and f u l l e r and more relaxed and open. It existed and i t would be a better way to l i v e . " In p a r t i c u l a r , Hamish had become p a i n f u l l y aware of his own self-consciousness, "of being uncertain about oneself, not f e e l i n g confident. Just a constant e f f o r t to present yourself i n a way that would f e e l good and also gain other people's approval." Providing a glimpse into "other realms and other spaces", the use of psychedelics provided a temporary r e l i e f from the constraints of such self-consciousness, while at the same time h i g h l i g h t i n g an i r r i t a t i o n with the c o n s t r i c t i o n , or narrower view of everyday l i f e and consciousness. He experienced t h i s abrasive q u a l i t y i n his experience as an i r r i t a t i o n that could be momentarily r e l i e v e d but not eliminated. As well, Hamish was s t i l l struggling with the question of what lay ahead, beyond hi s graduate degree i n Psychology. He knew he didn't want to follow the t r a d i t i o n a l way, but didn't see any workable options. Which way should he go? R e f l e c t i n g on t h i s time now, he f e e l s that to some extent, not knowing how to be an adult, he just didn't want to grow up. These were the heady days of music, of t r i p s both i n t e r n a l and external and l i f e could be r i c h , powerful and sweet. In the midst of t h i s c u l t u r a l ferment he chanced upon Ram Dass's Be Here Now. Suddenly, meditation had been presented as an adjunct to the appealing a l t e r n a t i v e l i f e s t y l e s . "One f r i e n d and I started some sort of meditation. It was rather undisciplined, using the mantra i n the book and infused with the w i l d l y enthusiastic ideas of the time, we started doing something." In retrospect, i t seems to Hamish that there were two sides to his desire f o r a more imaginative way to l i v e . But at the time, the c u l t u r a l forms that existed seemed very l i m i t i n g . S p i r i t u a l i t y and meditation were to be a way out of that. They would provide access into a d i f f e r e n t r e a l i t y , a gateway into more f u l f i l l i n g realms. Upon graduation from graduate school, Hamish headed west, t r a v e l l i n g across America to what seemed to be a Mecca -C a l i f o r n i a , the source from which the mingled currents of the counter culture flowed. There, meditation and s p i r i t u a l r e f l e c t i o n of several v a r i e t i e s were counterpoint to rock concerts and hanging out. Meditation tended to be a sporadic a f f a i r , - "somethimng that might happen on a b e a u t i f u l afternoon when three or four people might decide to s i t outside i n a f i e l d " - but s t i l l an element to the quest f o r some meaningful a l t e r n a t i v e to mundane r e a l i t y . In C a l i f o r n i a , Hamish had glimpses of the wider view which he sought, but they seemed f l e e t i n g , ephemeral. S u f i dancing, hearing Ram Dass speak, discovery of natural power spots, peak moments of community dancing to the Grateful Dead, a l l provided "some re a l joyous experiences... a d i f f e r e n t state of mind, or a l t e r e d states of mind"; experiences "beyond what could be explained i n terms of one's e a r l i e r frame of reference". But while the time was e x c i t i n g and p o s i t i v e , each glimmer of a more spacious view or enriching experience would be followed by a the pain of watching i t disappear, as mundane r e a l i t y reasserted i t s e l f . The problems of "the rent...didn't seem to be washed away by these somewhat exotic p r a c t i c e s . " Hamish returned to Canada i n 197-, t r a v e l l i n g up the West Coast and ending up at a commune on Galiano Island i n Georgia Straight. On Galiano, Hamish continued to read a wide spectrum of books and to p r a c t i c e a few esoteric practices picked up i n C a l i f o r n a i - Tarot, the I ching. More s i g n i f i c a n t l y , here he began to practice meditation i n a more d i s c i p l i n e d way. Complementing the old mantra from the Ram Dass book with a v a r i e t y of methods newly discovered i n his readings, he would hike each day to a favourite tree near Active Pass, s i t and p r a c t i c e meditation. This time brought both communal l i v i n g and a sort of back to nature approach into his ongoing search. Experimenting with l u c i d dreaming techniques found i n the Don Juan writings of Carlos Castaneda, Hamish had a series of powerful and v i v i d dreams. His f r i e n d i n C a l i f o r n i a reported seeing his Double. "That had a sort of thunderous kind of impact on me. I started to wonder, wow, I r e a l l y am stepping outside." But even as such experiences seemed to f u l f i l l his quest for the extraordinary, Hamish found himself questioning the approach he was taking. Reading Chogyam Trungpa's "Cutting Through S p i r i t u a l Materialism" at t h i s time, opened up a new and not altogether f l a t t e r i n g perspective on his path. The d e s c t r i p t i o n of mind presented by Trungpa, a Tibetan lama teaching i n North America, seemed both f a m i l i a r and "tremendously accurate". Suddenly, the neurotic side of the s p i r i t u a l quest was presented, and as Hamish looked at himself and those he was l i v i n g with, he was disturbed by what he saw. "I was l i v i n g with people who were Gnostics and were on t h e i r way to bneing F r u i t a r i a n s and I could see that there was something desparate about the search. I could see i t r e f l e c t e d i n them and I could taste i t i n myself." He saw how much he had been involved " i n wanting to be someone spe c i a l and unique and noticed and approved through t h i s great e f f o r t and also the idea of sort of manufacturing states of mind." Reading Trungpa at t h i s point, brought Hamish to the r e a l i z a t i o n that i f he was going to progress s p i r i t u a l l y , he would need a teacher and a genuine s p i r i t u a l d i s c i p l i n e . He returned to Vancouver and began to check out the s p i r i t u a l teachers who seemed to be " r o l l i n g i n i n droves". He heard of one p a r t i c u l a r teacher, a Tibetan lama named Kalu Rinpoche, and had already decided that he would seek th i s man out when he met a young couple who reinforced that decision. "Oh, he's a re a l one", they'd said. So, he went to a teaching being given by Kalu Rinpoche, where he "just had some experience of certainty that he was an authentic teacher." While not a " p a r t i c u l a r l y big deal" he was impressed with the teacher's c l a r i t y and took Refuge with him. During a subsequent interview with the teacher, he found what he was looking f o r . With the lama, he had an "experience of t o t a l groundlessness, but not i n a t e r r i f y i n g kind of way. Groundless i n the sense of free of a l l c o n s t r i c t i o n s and preconceptions. It was l i k e being f u l l y i n the moment and at the same time i t was infused with kindness, a r e a l l y strong sense of warmth." He had found his teacher. When he got up to leave the interview, the two lamas i n attendance brought Hamish forward for a blessing. "He put hi s hand on my head. He just ran a whole l o t of current r i g h t through i t . . . I t was very, very physical, a tremendously physical experience of a blessing and then just l i g h t everywhere and I remember being guided out of the room." Powerful dreams followed the experience, seeming to confirm the connection. He began to follow the teacher's instructions to r e c i t e the Refuge prayer on a d a i l y basis as well as to continue r e c i t i n g the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, which he had learned from Be Here Now years e a r l i e r . Thus began Hamish's formal practice of Buddhist meditation. He attended group meditations or pujas a few times, but f e l t completely l o s t with the Tibetan and unfamiliar with the r i t u a l structure. Nevertheless, r e c i t i n g the prayer seven times a day kept a sense of connection with the teacher and doing the mantra continued to give him a sense of d i r e c t i o n . "Repeating mantras kind of jams your i n t e r n a l dialogue f o r a while and sort of gives you a ce r t a i n kind of r e l i e f and a cer t a i n degree of openness, tunes you l i k e a s t r i n g to more refined l e v e l s of experience." These were Hamish's two meditation practices as he packed up and went back to Toronto, where his daughter was born i n 197 . As there were no Tibetan Centres associated with Kaul Rinpoche there at the time, his search for a place to study and pr a c t i c e meditation l e d him to a Korean monk. It was with t h i s p ractice of Korean Zen that Hamish f i r s t f e l t that he was learning meditation as such, developing a sense of the importance of posture and mindfulness. It was at t h i s centre as well that he met a great Korean Zen master, Sen Chen. In an interview with Sen Chen, Hamish experienced the stopping of his mind; "We have such a heavy set of conceptions that a l l l i n k together and can account for about everything and the Zen teachers can just get you right where a l l that stays and i t a l l just collapses f o r a moment, when you are r e a l l y present, without a l o t of baggage." As with h i s e a r l i e r interview with Kalu Rinpoche, t h i s one provided both i n s p i r a t i o n and momentum as well as a confirmation of the d i r e c t i o n he was t r a v e l l i n g . On departing, t h i s teacher gave a tea ceremony on Hamish's honour, providing him not only a great blessing, but also i n d i c a t i n g how meditation could be conjoined with "action i n very simple ways l i k e making tea and l i v i n g ordinary l i f e . " On a v i s i t to a bookstore one day, Hamish noticed a note on the b u l l e t i n board announcing that Kalu Rinpoche's students i n Vancouver had bought some land on Saltspring Island. They were i n v i t i n g people to come to the land and to help b u i l d a Three Year Retreat Centre. "I just knew that that was the thing I had to do". So, he packed his family into a camperized pickup truck and headed West again, stopping i n Boulder, Colorado on the way. In Boulder, he reconnected with his old f r i e n d from Pittsburgh, with whom he'd f i r s t started reading Ram Dass' book and had since become a student of Trungpa Rinpoche. The Boulder experience provided Hamish with more confirmation i n his s p i r i t u a l path. Not only did he meet numerous fellow Buddhists, but here were the legacy of the Beat poets, including A l l e n Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, who had also moved to Boulder to study with the Tibetan Lama. Then, back to Vancouver, alternating mantra and Grey Cup game on the truck radio: the mantra " c l a r i f y i n g his mind" and working l i k e a "talisman, i t ' s l i k e rubbing a stone; i t puts me i n touch with something...I'm aware that the teacher t o l d me to keep doing that and there's some sense of connection and some sense of rightness. That's where I started i n the f i r s t place, with Be Here Now, i t was that mantra which stood out." A f t e r a r r i v i n g i n Vancouver, he throws himself into Kalu Rinpoche's community of students. The teacher himself i s i n the c i t y again on another t r i p to the West. There are teachings, i n i t i a t i o n s and pujas. At f i r s t , the pujas, or group meditations are as bewildering as before and he struggles, along with many others, to piece them together. Nobody t e l l s him exactly how to do that, but gradually, he gets the sense of what's going on so he can do i t . By now, at least the mantra i s f a m i l i a r and the rest of the r i t u a l he structures around that. Over the years, i t i s t h i s , the practice of Chenrezig or the Bodhisattva of Compassion, to which he returns. As intended, he spends time on the land now, a s s i s t i n g with the b u i l d i n g of the Retreat. It i s there as well that he does his f i r s t intensive retreat as he begins his practice of Ngun-Dro, the Foundations fo r Mahamudra, with prostrations. Prostrations, an intensely demanding physical practice brought up f o r Hamish a struggle with devotion. Rather than immediately providing a r e l i e f from.suffering, the prostrations make cl e a r that s p i r i t u a l i t y i s nothing so l i g h t . The rigours of the practice brought up a range of experiences: a rage at being trapped, furious that he had to climb the h i l l again; a clear i n t u i t i o n that there were indeed two r e a l i t i e s and he could choose between them; feelings of compassion and a suffusion with a b l i s s f u l warmth; three days of purging sickness; the v i s i o n of a nighttime rainbow over Duncan. Overall, the f e e l i n g that the path of meditation " i s tough, i t ' s demanding, and r e a l l y does require a kind of w a r r i o r - l i k e quality...without that, i t i s n ' t true." A f t e r s i x weeks of doing prostrations with a small group of retreatants, Hamish was powerfully affected: "By the time I came down, I was i n another world...My mind was very much clearer than I was accustomed to i t being u n t i l then, and i t i s now." The discursive process of mind had slowed. Perceptions were sharp and experience v i v i d . "It had some of the same q u a l i t i e s as an a c i d t r i p but without the f l o u r i s h i n g q u a l i t y of LSD and t h i s was much more s o l i d . " As well, f o r the f i r s t time, the teachings of the re l a t i o n s h i p between form and emptiness, so i n t e g r a l to the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy and experience, became clear, were no longer i n t e l l e c t u a l : "It was a l l very clear to me just by looking at people what t h e i r story was: every l i n e i n t h e i r face, every movement spoke of t h e i r story. I understood what the teaching was about of form and emptiness and how everything i s just as i t i s and how there i s nothing behind i t a l l and there's no need to look f o r anything behind i t . . . everything becomes so p e r f e c t l y obvious. The whole process of t r y i n g to construct r e a l i t y behind the present becomes c l e a r l y superfluous." Attempts to continue p r o s t r a t i o n p r a c t i c e once he was back at work proved f r u s t r a t i n g . For a while, he worked on the second of the foundations, Dorje-Sempa, (including a three day at a C h r i s t i a n center i n the Okanogan when he worked i n Penticton f o r a couple of years i n the mid-1980s) but that too, was f r u s t r a t i n g . Finding ngun-dro d i f f i c u l t to continue p r a c t i c i n g i n the context of everyday l i f e , Hamish s t i l l waits f o r an opportunity to continue i n a s t r i c t e r retreat s i t u a t i o n . In the years since Kalu Rinpoche's v i s i t and the prostration retreat i n 19 78, Hamish recieved more teachings from him on other v i s i t s , studied with other lamas, made several t r i p s to Boulder and studied Buddhist and Western approaches to contemplation there, notably M a i t r i t r a i n i n g . But over the years, i t i s the Chenrezig and shamatha practices that have provided him with most continuity. A l l of these meditations have been supported over the years with the more cognitive and i n t e l l e c t u a l contemplations which t y p i f y the Tibetan Mahamudra approach. For example, p r i o r to both the pro s t r a t i o n and Dorje-Sempa Ngun-dro practices, Hamish engaged i n the d a i l y and systematic reading and contemplation of the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind: precious human b i r t h , impermanence, su f f e r i n g and karma. "Those thoughts have informed have informed not only my pr a c t i c e but my way of l i v i n g , the way my l i f e has gone...(they) undermine a certa i n kind of spuriousness which i s very h e l p f u l " . For example, i n his work with the concept of the pervasiveness of suff e r i n g , Hamish fe e l s he has transformed his experience of pain. "You know, I understand that I'm not going to avoid pain. The experience of pain and s u f f e r i n g then become an i n t r i n s i c part of l i f e and an i n v i t a t i o n to practice at the same time...There i s n ' t sort of that sense that pain i s wrong and a ce r t a i n kind of g u i l t arises from i t , where you think you must have done something wrong... There i s n ' t the idea that I should be able to f i n d some way to shut i t o f f . " He fe e l s that working with the concept of impermanence has profoundly influenced his approach to his career: "I have a l o t less attachment to what I create i n the context of my work than most of my colleagues... I don't need to defend t e r r i t o r y as much because I have a sense of how things can come into being and go out of being and that's f i n e . " S i m i l a r l y , working contemplatively with the Heart Sutra over the years has informed not only his meditation practice but also his l i f e - s t y l e and the therapeutic practice which he applies to his occupation as family therapist. Study, contemplation (including dialogue with numerous Buddhist teachers on t h i s subject) and meditation, are interwoven to a f f e c t both his view of what i s occuring and his accompanying behaviour. "With meditation p r a c t i c e and the understanding of the Heart Sutra, discursive thoughts become just that. The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the thinking process i s loosened; that kind of compulsive attachment to the thinking process i s loosened." While t h i s experience has been c u l t i v a t e d through h i s meditation over the years, Hamish refers to the impact of one of Kalu Rinpoche's teachings on Mahamudra around 1980. "He had us v i s u a l i z i n g Toronto and New York at the same time. It f e l t l i k e he was taking a l l of our minds into his mind and just taking us a l l through t h i s thing step by step and eventually i t was just 'pow'." Hamish's meditation practice has developed an s u f f i c i e n t awareness i n his mental processes that he can move " i n and out of absorption i n thought" and also "to sort of drop things...in order to take a f u l l e r stock of a s i t u a t i o n or to percieve a s i t u a t i o n more f u l l y . " He applies t h i s to a moment i n his therapeutic practice, arguing that i t has changed the way that he has s h i f t e d his attention from a bedwetting c h i l d to "the pattern that forms the context f o r the bedwetting", and emphasizing the a f f i n i t y between these insights and systemic thinking. When he r e f l e c t s upon the impact that meditation has had upon his r e l a t i o n s h i p with others, Hamish points to a s i m i l a r s h i f t i n understanding and behaviour. When his wife confronts him with being l a t e f o r the t h i r d night i n a row, he i s able to regard that as "feedback about being l a t e , not about myself...I f e e l a l o t more f l e x i b i l i t y . I don't f e e l an expansion of meaning i n those kind of s i t u a t i o n s . I'm much more capable of seeing them as they are through p r a c t i c e . " His interchanges are "cleaner, not always, but the p r o b a b i l i t y i s i n that d i r e c t i o n . " "You're much more aware of your part i n the s i t u a t i o n rather than looking at the other person as the source of the exchange or the problem." He attributes t h i s s h i f t i n behaviour to a greater f e e l i n g of trust and confidence i n himself, on one hand, and on other, to a related a b i l i t y to cut projections, to read less into a s i t u a t i o n . "The meaning of things i s a c t u a l l y quite present; i t ' s not concealed, to be deduced, to be found anywhere else but i n what's happening i n the immediate moment...You become more tr u s t i n g that you're not into a game yourself, that you don't have u l t e r i o r motives, that you begin to be able to trust the goodness of mind...You don't have to manufacture anything else, make some other presentation. Things become much more as they are, s i m p l i f i e d . " It i s a big s h i f t from where he started, at graduate school i n Pittsburgh. From a desire f o r other spaces, other realms, Hamish has discovered meaning i n the s i m p l i c i t y of the s i t u a t i o n i n front of him. As well, his " s e l f -consciousness just kind of vanished". The f e e l i n g that "I've got to make up something quick, on the spot here or people w i l l see through me" has given way to f e e l i n g comfortable: "you kind of lose the a b i l i t y to take c r e d i t or blame for anything. I don't mean r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . I f e e l more responsible a c t u a l l y . But the whole business of what builds me up and makes me look better, r e a l l y , whatever that i s just s t a r t s to thi n out." And from an i n i t i a l "romantic" motivation f o r meditation which sought f o r such v a l i d a t i o n , more recently i t has been more c e n t r a l l y involved i n working with the pain and suffering i n hi s l i f e . Within the past two years, he has been involved i n a pai n f u l separation and divorce, during which time "there was nothing else to do except to pra c t i c e . . . ( I t ) doesn't take the pain away but i t makes i t less s o l i d , so that you begin to expand around the pain, so there's space around the pain, so that you can go on, move on, make i t through the night," The magic and mystery o r i g i n a l l y sought so ardently comes now, when i t does, unheralded as a blessing and no longer as v a l i d a t i o n of himself. It has come unsought as a "powerful, v i v i d , awesome" moment i n the midst of therapy with unattached c h i l d r e n : "On one occassion when I was doing that work I had a very cl e a r experience of Chenrezig,..sometimes when I'm working, I get a fe e l i n g , a v i s i o n , on top of my head of (Kalu Rinpoche's) presence that just spontaneously a r i s e s . " And i t has come also i n synchronous events which have linked Green Tara (another of Hamish's meditation deities) with the b i r t h of his son and with meeting and marrying his new wife. "However that worked, whatever that i s , there's d e f i n i t e l y some kind of mystery to a l l of that that relates to meditation p r a c t i c e . " No other realm behind t h i s one, "the meaning i s a c t u a l l y quite present." His work as a therapist seems now to be an expression of the o r i g i n a l search f o r "how to be an adult". Summing up the benefits of meditation f o r him, Hamish i s blunt: "It's made me a l o t better human being. It's made me more compassionate towards other people. I t ' s given me a l o t more confidence i n myself and I think i t ' s made my mind more f l e x i b l e and powerful." Jane's Story Jane grew up i n North Carolina, being prepared and preparing for her destined l i f e as a Southern woman, "a very comfortable and b e a u t i f u l l i f e . " Her father was English, her family Episcopal and the society was r i g i d and conservative. Whites and blacks knew t h e i r respective places and the world was orderly. In that society, with i t s climate of fundmentalist C h r i s t i a n i t y , Jane's early s p i r i t u a l i t y was a given: "I had always had an i n t e r e s t i n s p i r i t u a l l i f e . " However, questions about the nature of that s p i r i t u a l l i f e arose quite early. From twelve to seventeen, Jane spent her summers studying piano at a Quaker music camp i n the mountains of North Carolina. It became apparent that here was another way of looking at the world. From the Quakers, Jane got a glimpse of a l i f e without prejudice, heard about non-violence. These p o s s i b i l i t i e s of a l t e r n a t i v e ways of being were nourished as well through t h i s period by the world of books, as Jane was a voracious reader. She graduated from High School and followed the path of the debutante to University at Chapel H i l l , where she did a Master's degree i n the School of Education. While at University, a number of events took place which now seem to her as milestones on a very long road. During her Master's program, she had a choice between taking a s t a t i s t i c s course or encounter group. Her choice of the l a t t e r , was "very penetrating": "That was the f i r s t sort of experience I had of people moving i n on my psychic space i n a d i r e c t way," If t h i s was one harbinger f o r what was to come, her involvement i n a second major s o c i a l movement of the time was to be even more s i g n i f i c a n t . It was the 1960s and the C i v i l Rights movement was shaking the foundations of the South. "The C i v i l Rights Movement was important to my s p i r i t u a l path because I was an upper middle class Southern debutante. I got swept into the c i v i l r i g h t s movement l i t e r a l l y . I l i t e r a l l y walked out of a restaurant one night and a huge sea of black people who were demonstrating came sweeping down and I got swept into i t and i t kind of went from there." Breaking from the expected path was not without i t s consequences. She had had i t made "as f a r as a woman was concerned i n that society." She married a Doctor and was f i t t i n g into the Junior League milieu as a Southern B e l l e . Her a c t i v i t y i n the movement changed that and she was ost r a c i z e d by former friends. "Being pushed out of what had been a comfortable p o s i t i o n for me was part of my path, I believe to coming to (meditation) p r a c t i c e and taking a stand for the r e l i e f of people i n pain." As soon as she could she and her husband l e f t f o r Colorado, where she had worked b r i e f l y as a waitress during her University days. Though she had some f a m i l i a r i t y with Colorado, she found i t hard to s e t t l e i n . It was a long way from the protected environment of her youth and the "credentials" of a Southern B e l l e . She f e l t l i k e an outsider, but i n an odd way. She was President of the Medical Wives, but "not r e a l l y connected to how to work and how to l i v e i n that world." Externally, performing her duties, inside she f e l t alienated and inauthentic. For several years she struggled with her confusion, t r y i n g to f i t into to t h i s new society. She wrote and published poetry and that helped her maintain a sense of who she was, but she s t i l l didn't r e a l l y f e e l connected. In 1972, she gave b i r t h to her f i r s t c h i l d a f t e r having t r i e d unsuccesfully f o r several years to become pregnant. She and her husband had resorted to the use of a " f e r t i l i t y p i l l " and while they had been succèsful i n the pregnancy, there was an unforseen side e f f e c t which did not show i t s e l f f o r many months. In 1973, she began to have blackouts and f a i n t i n g periods. As well, she started having pains i n her lower abdomen. A v i s i t to her gynecologist resulted i n the discovery of a grapefruit sized tumour on her l e f t ovary. She needed surgery immediately. A f t e r c a l l i n g her husband, she and the doctor rushed to the ho s p i t a l . There, the attending physician warned her that she could die on the operating table. She had not even had time to see her son. "I was given a whole p i l e of tranks and s t u f f and I thought, 'I'm dying, I'm fucking dying here' and I was 30 and so I went into the operating room and I did wake up....Has that covering burst, I would have been dead pretty quickly. So I was very lucky. I was in c r e d i b l y lucky...and I ' l l never forget the f i r s t thought I had when I woke up, 'you've wasted your l i f e ' , and the second thought I had was, 'you have to f i n d a teacher' ". An i n j e c t i o n of morphine to help her cope with her pain compounded t h i s break with the flow of her l i f e . I t brought on v i v i d h a llucinations and though she's forgotten the context of her v i s i o n s , they introduced her to d i f f e r e n t states of mind. A f t e r the operation, she was "incredibly, i n c r e d i b l y glad to be a l i v e . The world was vibrant and bea u t i f u l and i t was a very very powerful experience." Up u n t i l t h i s point, she's "a middle class Southern doctor's wife." She r e c a l l s , "I don't know from Jack about any of t h i s . I was interested s p i r i t u a l l y ; I had t r i e d to go to church, to the Episcopal Church, and none of that. I even t r i e d other brands of C h r i s t i a n i t y , but that didn't cut i t . That wasn't i t ; that wasn't my way." Now, these thoughts ring i n her mind: her l i f e has been wasted and she has to f i n d a teacher. The need for t h i s teacher becomes a central concern and she started "praying to whatever powers that be" that she would f i n d one. A f t e r the operations, Jane and her husband moved from Denver to Boulder where she joined the Creative Writing Department at the University as a grad student and teaching assistant. In Boulder, she continued her search f o r a teacher, sampling from the v a r i e t y of offerings a v a i l a b l e . She r e c a l l s with some humour dragging her "doctor husband" to EST and while she didn't f i n d her teacher there, she d i d learn something about meditation. She began to read and study more about i t . At t h i s time, she discovered that the neighbours with whom she and her son had struck up a r e l a t i o n s h i p were Buddhists. Eager to learn more about meditation, she approached them fo r some teachings. They suggested she wait a couple of weeks and then ask again. "I waited fourteen days to the l e t t e r , a c t u a l l y watching my watch, the second hand going around and I went back at the end of two weeks and I said I waited two weeks and I know I want more meditation p r a c t i c e . " They gave her some i n s t r u c t i o n and she began to meditate on a regular basis. By t h i s time, she had become aware that Boulder was the home of t h e i r teacher who was a Tibetan Lama and of Naropa Ins t i t u t e , the school he had established there. In fact, she had already run into t h i s teacher by chance, one day i n a Chinese restaurant. The f r i e n d she was having lunch with, a Hindu writer, was quite excited to f i n d the lama eating there. Jane couldn't quite understand the fuss but was aware that " i t was extremely hard to stay i n (her) seat." "I very much wanted to go over and t a l k to him, but what was I going to say?" One day, her neighbours i n v i t e d her to hear t h i s man, t h e i r teacher, give a t a l k at Naropa. He was t a l k i n g about a concept central to Buddhist philosophy: emptiness. "I couldn't understand a single word he said...I could understand h i s accent and everything, but I could not understand the concept or the non-concept of emptiness and so, i t just b a l l e d me up, wrapped me right around the axle." A f t e r a l l , she was a bright, i n t e l l e c t u a l Southern writer and not being able to understand what he was saying seemed very unusual. As well, the teacher seemed a b i t dangerous to her. She was wary about getting to close to him. In fact, she f e l t that the meditation she was learning and p r a c t i c i n g from his students was pretty good and she could do that, but she wasn't about to get involved with "this lama guy", Trungpa Rinpoche. While she started p r a c t i c i n g meditation more regularly, beginning to s i t for day long meditations at Karma Dzong (the Buddhist centre), her marriage started to come apart and during t h i s period, " i t f e l l to pieces." "I go on teaching at Colorado University and going to classes and so on, have a now two year old c h i l d and am getting a divorce and b a s i c a l l y going crazy." During t h i s period, while she continued to meditate, her c u r i o s i t y about Trungpa Rinpoche started to overcome her trepidation about him. In the following spring, wanting to understand what the a t t r a c t i o n i s to t h i s man ("basically, I wanted to get closer to him and watch and see what he was doing"), she went to his house to volunteer f o r some service. "I said what could I do and they t o l d me I could j o l l y well clean the t o i l e t s . So t h i s for the Southern Belle who had black servants and was t h i s debutante and everything started back cleaning the t o i l e t s . " During t h i s while i n Boulder, as she moved ever closer towards f u l l involvement i n the Buddhist community, Jane continued to experience a series of such reversals. Not only did she have to work her way up i n the hierarchy at the house, over the course of a year, from being "allowed to vacuum the basement" to getting "to watch him eat", she experiences the reverse prejudice of being a Southerner i n the North. While loving the energy and i n t e l l e c t u a l stimulation of being i n a community with "very, very bright" people from c i t i e s and u n i v e r s i t i e s across the country, including the Beat poets, she struggled to overcome the f e e l i n g that she didn't belong there. City-wise students from New York and Chicago would t e l l her that she was being too damn f r i e n d l y and phoney. Others would respond to her accent and steretype her as a dumb Southern cracker. I t ' s at once a "very very e x c i t i n g time" and a shocking, devastating time. As with her encounter group experience at Chapel H i l l many years before, her psychic space i s being entered, invaded, and the way she has put her l i f e together u n t i l now continues to be dismantled. Despite the struggle and the confusion and the ongoing snese of being an outsider, she started connecting with other people i n the Buddhist community, or sangha. She remarried, t h i s time to a Buddhist. She met and made a personal connection with her teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche who challenged her concerning her vestiges of prejudice. "Being a seirvant was very powerful f o r me. He (Trungpa) worked very powerfully with my mind, on the spot, i n a physical way, i n getting me to behave i n a physical way ...and I ghot connected powerfully." The p o s i t i v e aspects of her l i f e made i t possible to cope with the dismantling that was taking place simultaneously. For example, as a servant i n her teache's house, Jane had to take lessons from the English major domo: "He was i n charge of service at Rinpoche's house and here I was and I was a debutante. I knew, I mean I had given p a r t i e s for hundreds of people and I knew how to do i t and he'd be in s t r u c t i n g me, 'now, we want you to put the fork here" and I would know that i t didn't go there and I would have to do what they said even though I knew i t was wrong. And a l l that was just t e r r i b l y , t e r r i b l y mind-blowing and I ju s t f e l t l i k e I was being dismantled, l i k e I was just being shredded out. And i n some way, I was." In retrospect, she f e e l s that she entered into the Buddhist community with a c e r t a i n degree of arrogance. Of that time, she says, "on the one hand, I didn't have much confidence and on the other hand, I was pretty arrogant at the same time. I didn't know that p a r t i c u l a r l y . I was also unaware. But I couldn't figure out how my rela t i o n s h i p s didn't work very well." She r e c a l l s that at f i r s t , she didn't r e a l l y know how to meditate, that she was "pretending". It was confusing. Rather than providing her with any sense of comfort or t r a n q u i l i t y , her meditation seemed to shake her foundations as much as her external l i f e . Nevertheless, she persevered. "Somehow I had enough f a i t h to keep going, that confidence...! didn't even r e a l l y know what I was habving f a i t h i n p a r t i c u l a r l y . I trusted somehow that i f I kept p r a c t i c i n g that something would happen or cease to happen and I didn't r e a l l y quite know what." A f t e r working f o r several years with the basic s i t t i n g meditation practice of shamatha, Jane began the Ngun-dro, or foundational p r a c t i c e s . She r e c a l l s , "when I did the prostrations, I just came apart l i k e a hand-grenade. I was Ramboed". She worked with the Ngun-dro p r a c t i c e for the next two years. During DorjeSembha pracice, the second of the four practices, for the f i r s t time, she had a strong experience of c l a r i t y and serenity. A Tibetan woman teacher had come to Boulder and was staying at a Buddhist guest house which had a shrine room where Jane was doing the DorjeSembha practi c e . "And she was p r a c t i c i n g there and she cleared my mind, or p r a c t i c i n g with her did. I don't mean that she did i t but p r a c t i c i n g there with her i n her presence did...I experienced a tremendous amount of b l i s s and that was a revelation. I didn't know u n t i l that point that that was ava i l a b l e . " Thus, i t was several years before her f a i t h i n meditation a c t u a l l y gave her some sense of f r u i t i o n . It f e l t that l i f e was s t a r t i n g to become meaningful. Jane no longer f e l t the sense of wasting her l i f e away which had arisen so powerfully on the hos p i t a l bed. She was s t a r t i n g to f e e l at home. Even so, i t continued to be a struggle. The two years of ngun-dro practice were "the two most agonizing years I think I can think of." Contributing to the agony was a marriage that looked more and more l i k e a mistake. Jane's new husband was becoming progressively p h y s i c a l l y abusive. Upon f i n i s h i n g ngun-dro, Jane began a new meditation p r a c t i c e that was to prove instrumental i n f i n a l l y moving her throu.gh t h i s period of confusion leading a breakthrough and dramatic change i n outlook. When she f i r s t p racticed the sadhana a f t e r recieving the empowerment f o r the Vajrayogini practice, Jane was somewhat discouraged as she would f a l l asleep. But perseverance f i n a l l y brought about "a r e a l connection and that's when I a c t u a l l y experienced some serenity, some s e t t l i n g down, and that was great...after several thousand Vajrayogini mantra, I remember the experience of a l o t of joy." By t h i s time, seven years ago, Jane had been p r a c t i c i n g meditation for almost eight years and had developed to the degreethat she was now teaching i t to new students. It had dismantled her sense of who she was including many patterns of thinking and behaviour that had been learned growing up i n the South, some of which, she feels sure, set her up f o r involvement i n an abusive r e l a t i o n s h i p . "It'd been a b i g process f o r me of taking apart some pretty destructive o l d programs and then there's sort of a wasteland period, where you f l o a t around with no i d e n t i t y f o r a while." Her marriage had "turned out to be a r e a l l y hideous s i t u a t i o n . I t was a v i o l e n t marriage and he beat me up and I r e a l l y had to sort of h i t bottom. I'd been sort of addicted to r e l a t i o n s h i p . . . ! couldn't believe i t was happening to me." Her pra c t i c e at that time, plus the support of the sangha, was instrumental i n maintaining her awareness of what was happening to her: "the practice makes you so intensely aware of what's going down." Once she decided to leave, that was i t , there was no going back. "When I s p l i t , I s p l i t . " This was bottom, "my facade t o t a l l y f e l l to pieces." At the same time, she was deeply involved i n the Vajrayogini p r a c t i c e . Vajrayogini i s a red semi-wrathful female deity who dances on one toe. She has a hook knife and a skull-cup f u l l of blood. As with other Vajrayana yidam practices, one v i s u a l i z e s the deity both i n front of one and then as oneself, p r i o r to d i s s o l v i n g the whole display into emptiness and l e t t i n g the mind rest. The pra c t i c e seemed to mirror p r e c i s e l y Jane's world. "I r e a l l y get personally the signi f i c a n c e of her for what happened to me. As well, she experienced i n t h i s p r a c t i c e a sense of "presence". She was aware of s t a r t i n g "to f e e l decent, l i k e a r e a l l y decent person". She began to teach i n the Shambhala t r a i n i n g program. Then, as assistant d i r e c t o r and l a t e r d i r e c t o r of the t r a i n i n g program, t h i s sense of decency continued to expand and deepen and increasingly she became aware of her own personal power. The gradual ripening of her meditation over the years as well as her feelings of success i n being able to teach meditation to others gave to her new confidence; that she "might not be a t o t a l failure....even though I was a single woman, had f a i l e d twice at relationships and so on, I could s t i l l have a decent home and a k i d and decent work ...I began to know I worked well with people, I could be a success i n my interactions with people and I wasn't a l l alone." Following the very clear pattern of practice l a i d down by her teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, has brought Jane a long way. This path of meditation has proceeded systematically from the shamatha-vipassana breath meditation, through the foundational practices of Ngun-dro and Mahayana practices such as tong-len to the yidam practice of Vajrayogini. A common and important e f f e c t of these meditations has been to "change the patterns, to break the habitual thought patterns." Jane summarizes c l e a r l y the impact of t h i s restructuring: "just s i t t i n g and allowing the emotional s t u f f to run f r e e l y or whatever and getting detachment from the tapes that are going on i n your mind and understanding that's not who you are and you're not the emotional rushes and you're not the thought e i t h e r . You're something more, or l e s s . . . I began to have a sense of myself as a person...apart from convention or what my mother might want, or what my husband might want, or anybody might want : there i s being here who has her own ideas and needs and wants...more than ideas, her own being, that I am i n the world; I'm not nothing, a sense of s e l f and i t was d i f f e r e n t from ego which f o r me i s a defense structure and the sense I am t a l k i n g about i s undefended, pretty vulnerable as a matter of f a c t . " As well as occuring as a r e s u l t of s i t t i n g on the cushion and working d i r e c t l y with the flow of thoughts and emotions, study has also contributed to the changes that Jane has experienced. "Trungpa Rinpoche used to t a l k a l o t about not being a stupid meditator and I studied a l o t . I studied and prcaticed the slogans at Seminary and everything and you begin to mix your l i f e around the teachings and the meditation p r a c t i c e . " It i s the mix and the perseverence with i t that ultimately brings about the changes. Recently, Jane returned f o r a v i s i t to North Carolina and r e a l i z e d "how fortunate" she i s . While the C i v i l Rights Movement was instrumental i n leaving the South, meditation was instrumental i n leaving her l i f e as a Doctor's wife. "I'm sort of g r a t e f u l f o r the discomfort leading me to pr a c t i c e and I'm g r a t e f u l f o r the practice leading me to t o t a l l y dismantling the f a l s e , pseudo approach...it put me i n touch more with who I genuinely am, rather than who I'm supposed to be." Had she not walked t h i s path, Jane i s convinced "that I would have been a l c o h o l i c and/or on t r a n q u i l i z e r s or dead or i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d " . She has changed from a person she describes as c y n i c a l , negative, not very trusting, arrogant and c o n t r o l l i n g . "I've come a long way. It was intense and i t was d i f f i c u l t and I r e a l l y have a very good l i f e at t h i s point. I r e a l l y am a happy person. I've r e a l l y got what I want. I have a loving husband and a b e a u t i f u l l i f e , and an opportunity to do something, to p r a c t i c e . . . I belong. I belong here and that's very confidence giving, makes me f e e l I have a r i g h t here." And, having a right to be here, not "having to push your weight around when you don't have to prove anything or be anything: you are, you just are" and "then", she says, "you can s t a r t having fun." Sid's Story Sid's i s a story of struggle, of p o l a r i t y and c o n f l i c t . His meditative path has involved a duration and i n t e n s i t y that few other Westerners have experienced since i t includes, as well as long-term d a i l y practice, an immersion i n the t r a d i t i o n a l three-year retreat of Tibetan, or Vajrayana Buddhism. Sid has struggled, contended, wrestled with the angel of a d i f f e r e n t world, an a l i e n culture, the practices of which seem variously frozen, absurd, and meaningless. A struggle as well with laziness, d i s t r a c t i o n , anger and l u s t . A journal entry from the t h i r d month of his long retreat t y p i f i e s t h i s : "Painful day. I am becoming s e n s i t i v e to my i n t e r n a l chatter, the desires, the despair, r i s i n g , f a l l i n g , hope & fear. So fucking p a i n f u l . " A search f o r meaning i n the face of meaninglessness. Peace and calm i n the midst of a heightened sense of chaos, speed and confusion. One culture, steeped i n f a i t h , rubs up against the other steeped i n praise of ingenuity and spontaneity, sandpaper on a chalkboard. Doubt and f a i t h : "depression caused from energy drain due previous mental and body worry" (Dec. 1986) Sid's story, as chronology, begins around 1966. He's watching t e l e v i s i o n i n Toronto and there's a human interest story which grabs h i s attention. Years l a t e r , he remembers v i v i d l y the images of black clad figures gazing into space. This news spot, seen when he i s "something l i k e " eight years old, i s the e a r l i e s t memory Sid has of anything to do with meditation. He i s the oldest three brothers. They grow up i n numerous small towns and c i t i e s of Northern Ontario. His family are working class, truck-drivers, mine workers, moving from job to job. When he i s ten or eleven years old, i n E l l i o t Lake, North Ontario, a uranium mining town, he climbs the h i l l behind his elementary school at recess. He s i t s down, alone, with a pebble i n his hands on which he has written the word, "love". He holds the word i n his mind as well, saying i t to himself, over and over, thinking "love, love" and when the b e l l rings, c a l l i n g him back to school, he i s already forming i n his mind an intention. "I knew I didn't know how to meditate but I wanted to meditate and I'd have to wait u n t i l I would know how to meditate". He r e c a l l s a time i n Grade Nine, the second time i n Grade Nine, when his teacher asked him to write a story. The character i n the story i s a young guy with a s t r i p e d t - s h i r t who becomes a "65 year old man i n his rocking chair saying what the fuck was a l l t h i s for?" Against the backdrop of Sudbury's giant smokestack and the surrounding wasteland, sharing his generation's concern about the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of nuclear war, he f e l t l i k e he would soon see the collapse of Western C i v i l i z a t i o n . His family l i f e was h e l l . There were no paths around that made sense. At thirteen, Sid l e f t home. By the time he was f i f t e e n , he was " b a s i c a l l y l i v i n g on the street, was on drugs, l i v i n g i n men's rooming houses, on my own, just a wild young guy on the s t r e e t " . Nevertheless, he was impelled with a longing for meaning, "a very deep inter e s t growing i n me i n some kind of s p i r i t u a l i t y " . And against t h i s background of longing, as at many times l a t e r i n hi s l i f e , sparked meetings and events of meaning and purpose, moments of i n t u i t i o n , vibrant with certainty. At f i f t e e n , he's "on his own, just a wild young guy on the streets", l i v i n g i n men's rooming houses, doing drugs. During t h i s time, he meets a guy on the street, the f i r s t person he has ever met who talks s e r i o u s l y about s p i r i t u a l i t y . He f e e l s an immediate f a m i l i a r i t y . He walks into a "weird l i t t l e bookstore", finds a copy of the 60s c l a s s i c "Be Here Now" by Ram Das, "and as soon as I opened i t , i t was l i k e ' c l i c k ' . I read the words, looked at the pictures and knew, t h i s was where I was going". About the same time, a f t e r having been busted for drugs, he went up to Ottawa to get away from Sudbury. Someone at the Youth Hostel takes him to see S r i Chinmoy, the Hindu guru. While the scene i s "too trippy", nevertheless, the holy man impresses Sid with a sense of wisdom, "a r e a l keen insight into what was going on and somehow not caught i n i t . Though he hadn't had any p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o u s background i n his family and his only r e a l exposure to C h r i s t i a n i t y was through the Jesus freaks he met on the street, he had a f e e l i n g that there was an answer. Someone at t h i s time gave him a copy of Carlos Castaneda's f i r s t book and the idea of the "man of knowledge" became a symbol f o r Sid's path. His journey, both s p i r i t u a l l y and p h y s i c a l l y , had begun. He r e f l e c t s that at that time, there was "this very deep in t e r e s t growing i n me i n some kind of s p i r i t u a l i t y and about meditation," For the next few years, Sid feeds t h i s i n t e r e s t with readings of Castaneda and other books of the time, but he i s becoming increasingly depressed with the lack of d i r e c t i o n and meaning i n his l i f e . On the surface, there's magic i n the a i r when he and h i s friends are out at night, hanging out i n weird restaurants. But underneath i t a l l , "there was this part of me questing i n side, looking f o r some kind of truth, a strong i n t u i t i v e f e e l i n g that the whole thing was b u l l s h i t , " There's a decision point, an "edge, a certa i n point when i t becomes serious business,,,you see where you're headed". He f e e l s f i n i s h e d with t h i s stage of his l i f e , the street l i f e . But at the same time, when he looks around at the adults i n his l i f e , "guys who'd go work i n the mine f o r t h i r t y years, doing some job, marry the l i t t l e lady, having a bunch of kids, by the time they're s i x t y - f i v e , what are they?.,,there was no joy i n t h e i r eyes and they just plug into the big company or whatever i t was and just l i v e out t h i s very small mundane l i f e . " While he had a sense of some elusive meaning, "a very deep sense that l i f e i s something very precious and meaningful". It scared him to think he might become l i k e the older men he saw i n Sudbury. So at eighteen, with t h i s sense of closure with a l l that had gone before, i n a moment of deep despair, he s i t s down behind the Value-Mart i n downtown Sudbury, and for the f i r s t time i n his l i f e , he prays. He prays not to God as such, but to some sense of something e t e r n a l l y good, prays f o r some kind of help. And as he s i t s and prays a young man cycles past him and then back to him, and relates to him the B i b l i c a l parable of the three seeds and Sid i s inspired there and then to leave Sudbury and head West. He ends up f o r a while i n Edmonton, where he works his f i r s t r e a l job at a New Age restaurant, meeting others involved i n al t e r n a t i v e l i f e s t y l e s . He b r i e f l y v i s i t s with a group of meditators, "aura balancers, into channeling and things" who did some kind of meditation using imagery of white l i g h t . But Sid wasn't comfortable with t h i s , "too trippy". A f t e r a year he moves on, to Whitehorse. In Whitehorse, he hears about a guy who's bui l d i n g a cabin out i n the bush, needing some help. When Sid joins him, he discovers that the man i s a Buddhist. He's one of many " r e a l l y eccentric" people that Sid w i l l meet up north, many of whom have been to university, yet choose to l i v e simply, often i n squatters huts, some l i v i n g just hand to mouth. It i s i n Whitehorse that Sid meets his f i r s t Buddhist teachers. One i s a t r a d i t i o n a l Tibetan Lama, Kalu Rimpoche. This i s 1976 and Kalu Rimpoche i s "t h i s l i t t l e old shaky man" who's doing some ceremony, a Medicine Buddha empowerment. Sid i s not impressed. The c u l t u r a l trappings are an immediate turn off fo r him. But at the same time, he i s attracted by the s t y l e of the Buddhist students. "They didn't push. They were just into meditation. They were together i n who and what they were". And into t h i s environment came Namgyal Rimpoche, a Western Buddhist teacher, who r e a l l y impresses Sid, "a very powerful charismatic man", and i s introduced by him to the practice of Chenrezig yidam meditation, i n English. "Soon as I started doing i t , i t just c l i c k e d l i k e that...I r e a l l y l i k e d the aspect of compassion and love, that was a l l the way through i t . " Now, f o r the f i r s t time, he's no longer doing guesswork when he meditates. He i s now i n a formal s i t u a t i o n , with teachers. Suddenly, there's a focus f o r the r e s t l e s s , probing, intense questioning of the past years. "Sometimes, there were people I couldn't t a l k to and a l o t of times when I would talk, I'd f e e l l i k e a l l my words were fake issue, they were empty, they were just empty words." He has been grappling with questions of meaning, purpose and d i r e c t i o n since leaving Sudbury and now, there i s some sense of community, some sense of d i r e c t i o n . Sid's about twenty now and he's s t a r t i n g to wonder what he's going to do with the rest of his l i f e . He contemplates healing, herbology, construction, carpentry. He's not sure which way to go. He meets "this l i t t l e guy with a big laugh", an old time Dharma student who's been around for years. "I ask him a l l my questions and he just laughs most of the time and he says, "well, why don't you go to India?" And again, deep inside him, there's a response. "And i t was that very deep i n t u i t i v e f e e l i n g inside that made me leave Sudbury, that brought me to Whitehorse, said 'go to India'." And just before he leaves for India, Sid has a dream. "It's l i k e a commercial. This dream flashes up and i t ' s R o l l i n g Stone magazine. The cover of the magazine, and on i t , i t says 'KALU RIMPOCHE IS COMING'. A picture on i t , feature picture, Kalu Rimpoche with a big fancy hat on and l i t t l e monks around him. And i t just flashed up and disappeared, f i v e second spot, i t was nothing!" And v i a Europe, through India, he finds himself at l a s t , " r e a l l y freaked out", i n Darjeeling, up i n the mountains, booked into the youth h o s t e l . Without knowing i t , he finds himself a hour's jeep t r i p from Kalu Rimpoche's monastery i n Sonada. At a bakery, t a l k i n g to some Western dharma students, he r e a l i z e s how close he i s and the next day, hops i n a jeep, and arr i v e s at the monastery. He w i l l spend the next nine months there. At f i r s t , i t ' s hard. He has the same discomfort with the teacher that he had the f i r s t time, i n Whitehorse. He's "not impressed". But, more than that, he finds himself f i e r c e l y r e s i s t i n g the focus of impermanence, suff e r i n g , the f r u s t r a t i n g and unsatisfactory elements of l i f e . Every four or f i v e days, he'd go l i s t e n to Rimpoche give some teachings, bombard him with questions, and then return to his room to practice the meditation in s t r u c t i o n s he'd been given. A l l through t h i s period of questioning, there's an undercurrent of i n t u i t i v e encouragement. "At a very gut l e v e l , a deep l e v e l , something was going on. I don't know what, I didn't understand i t , but very deep down there was t h i s sense that 'this i s the most important thing you can do, being i n Sonada, doing what I was doing". This despite the fact that he doesn't l i k e the practices that he i s doing, ngung-dro, the foundations. And despite the fact that he i s doing his meditations now i n Tibetan, a language which i s mumbo-jumbo to him, frus t r a t e d and hating i t . Fortunately he meets a woman who acts as a bridge into t h i s strange new world and she helps, along with the other Westerners who are there. He enjoys his ongoing practice of Chenrezig, but the foundations, p a r t i c u l a r l y prostrations, are r e a l l y hard, a struggle. "Sometimes, i t would be l i k e g etting h i t with a sledge hammer - BANG, that's what i t was l i k e , i t was h o r r i b l e . I hated i t . " He struggles with doubt and i s torn by c o n f l i c t i n g forces. The teacher's s t y l e repels while at the same time, the depth of his experience touches him. He rages against the formality of the practices, the strangeness and u n f a m i l i a r i t y and the pessimism of the teachings, but s t i l l he hangs i n . A sense of inner emptiness propels him, "a sense of not f e e l i n g good about who and what I was. A l l the role examples I ever had, parents, family, teachers, friends, none of them I ever wanted to be, none of them s a t i s f i e d me." This i s experienced as an anguish, a hurting and sadness that i s bound up with a yearning f o r r e l i e f , release. He maintains a hope that t h i s path w i l l help to f i l l that emptiness. When he meditates, the ache recedes. While the "thoughts and emotions are s t i l l there, there's something being touched on much more fundamental and deeper inside. Something content. I t ' s just present and so the thoughts and emotions aren't everything...There's much more spaciousness for them to move. I don't have to associate myself with them. There's a place i n the meditation I can just rest, hang out, just be. And i t ' s not s t a t i c , . . . i t ' s a calm depth, i t ' s very f u l f i l l i n g , very enriching. Like coming home, l i k e coming back home." As well, he has a strong, gut sense of appropriateness and the teachings on love and compassion continue to reverberate and s a t i s f y him on a moral and i n t e l l e c t u a l l e v e l . He f i n a l l y even surrenders somewhat to the language, hearkening to Rimpoche when the teacher says that to r e a l l y understand the Dharma, t h i s w i l l be necessary. Slowly, imperceptibly, he s t a r t s to f e e l a connection with t h i s "shaky old man", Kalu Rimpoche. That persona, he s t a r t s to f e e l , i s just a front. "At some profound l e v e l , i t ' s connecting with him. Part of me says i t ' s coming from him, but that's not quite r i g h t . There's something there that includes him, I don't understand i t . I t ' s i n t u i t i v e , i t ' s a f e l t sense, i t ' s not l o g i c a l , i t ' s just i n the guts". And i t ' s the teacher's presence too, that slowly works on Sid and wins him over. One time i n p a r t i c u l a r , Sid arrives at the teachings and bombards the Lama with question a f t e r question. "I went through my whole spew of questions, put i t to him and he answered them back and he gave me that whole time and I appreciated that and just wore out the questions I had. S i t down and think about what he had to say. I respected him." So the man's patience, his compassion and respect and q u a l i t y of l i s t e n i n g won Sid over and also, his "uripretentiousness" - "he was sort of the centre of attention and he sort of s h i f t e d over, and I was back and I was watching Rimpoche, and he was wearing these long sleeves and he'd gotten one d i r t y and he went over and wiped i t off on some grass. He turned around and looked at me because I'd been watching and he just smiled, l i k e t h i s l i t t l e mischievous boy who'd been caught doing something, you know. It was sort of l i k e 'here, they've made me out to be some sort of great venerable old man, I don't care, I'm just me.' A whole natural unpretentiousness." Over a l l , the teacher gave Sid the f e e l i n g that he was respected. He f e l t encouraged and i n that environment of encouragement and respect, he was able to ask Rimpoche the burning question of the Vajrayana p r a c t i t i o n e r . Was Kalu Rimpoche his guru, his root lama? Rimpoche's answer - that every s i t u a t i o n , every person, every thing, was his root lama, his teacher - struck Sid resonated within and broke through layers of i d e a l i z a t i o n , v a s t l y expanding his understanding of teacher and teachings. Near the end of Sid's stay i n Sonada, Kalu Rimpoche was about to put i n a three year retreat, and when he put on his hat and began the ceremony with his monks, Sid re c o l l e c t e d that he had already dreamt the moment. "And at that point i n my l i f e , I knew I was gong to do the three-year retreat". The next stage of his l i f e i s being prepared. "The program was plugged i n " . He returns to Canada from India i n l a t e 19 78. He returns, impressed by the poverty of India, with the s p i r i t u a l i t y , the strength and patience of the people there. He has been moved by t h e i r f a i t h and these elements stand i n sharp contrast to the lifeways of the North Americans to whom he has returned. His re-entry, to take up residence i n a Buddhist community i n Burnaby, i s a shock to him. He experiences people within the Buddhist community as lonely, hurt, and i s o l a t e d people, many of them " s o c i a l l y incompetent". He decided to break from that environment following a party. He suddenly r e a l i z e d that he was unable to re l a t e to non-Buddhists, understood that he too had f a l l e n into an in s u l a r existence, f e l t "weird and i s o l a t e d " . "I wasn't connecting. I didn't f e e l l i k e I could share." If thi s was the r e s u l t of involvement i n a Dharma Centre, Sid was not interested. He didn't a t t r i b u t e t h i s to any way to his meditation practice, but he determined to leave that environment. In 1980, he moved to Saltspring Island. His meditation practices at the time included Chenrezig, ngundro and shamatha. He started helping to b u i l d the three year retreat centre, met Ann and started l i v i n g with her. He became more and more d i s i l l u s i o n e d with the Dharma "scene" through t h i s period. When Kalu Rimpoche v i s i t e d i n 1982 to put the f i r s t retreat i n , he t o l d S i d b a s i c a l l y to be patient and though he was v i r t u a l l y ready to leave, he stayed on, p a t i e n t l y waiting u n t i l the second retreat could go i n . That was scheduled to take place i n 1986. From 1982 to 1985, Sid worked, at construction, as a treeplanter, saving money. The f i r s t r e t r e a t came out i n 1985 and Sid was planning on moving up onto the land where he could study Tibetan, meditate and prepare f o r retreat. He's twenty eight years old. He and Ann break up i n the summer of 1985. And that summer, "I met an incredible woman, f e l l madly i n love with her, blew me away, never had such an intense experience, sexual experience, love, with anybody." As t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p progressed over the next s i x months and reached i t ' s end, and as the time f o r entry into retreat approached, Sid's l i f e started coming unglued. "She touched something i n my heart. And I f e l t t h i s r i p open i n my heart that I never f e l t before...I f e l t my confidence, my sense of who and what I was, the ground just collapsed from under me. I f e l t f r a n t i c , I f e l t spaced out, I f e l t disassociated, I just f e l t right out of i t , emotional, depressed, up ti g h t , a l l kinds of anguish, groundless." In the context of t h i s groundlessness, t h i s opening of emptiness, when Sid was engaged i n meditation on the deity Mahakala, the f a m i l i a r i n t u i t i v e voice came to him and said "go to India." In three weeks, he was back i n India. As i f he were expecting him, Kalu Rimpoche was waiting at the foot of the monastery steps on his return. Over the next two months, Sid slowly healed the anguish of the loss of thi s love. He does l o t s of meditation: Dorje Sempa, Mandala offerings, Chenrezig and shamatha, and Guru Yoga. Yet despite the nature of the meditation, the sessions, at f i r s t , were extremely p a i n f u l . It i s impossible to p r a c t i c e shamatha or mindfulness meditation. Images of the woman who has l e f t him, deep soul searching, l o t s of hurt, l o t s of anguish. The p r a c t i c e of Dorje Sempa through t h i s time, provided him with "the support of t h i s c l a r i t y , pureness, t h i s whiteness of Dorje Sempa, kind of a groundedness." This practice seemed to f i t most c l o s e l y with Sid's experience now: "the white l i g h t coming i n and a l l the black s h i t going out...and also the empowerment part of that. Dorje Sempa saying, 'yeah, you're pure now. You're a good guy. You're okay.' Smiling and chuckling, giving me a wink." As well, hearing something powerful i n a statement of Rimpoche's - "It's a l l Mind, i t ' s a l l only Mind" - he started working with v i s u a l i z a t i o n s of his friend, carrying on a form of active imagination, connecting with her, dialoguing, and then, as i n Vajrayana practice, d i s s o l v i n g the emptiness of t h i s form into the emptiness of himself. And as the wound of his loss was healing, another question loomed larger and larger. As the time f o r the retreat became more imminent, Sid, from his depths, began to question his purpose. Seemingly, there was no answer which could j u s t i f y such an act. "It was l i k e a f i s t holding my guts inside, squeezing, saying, 'Just do i t . Any reasons you have f o r doing i t ' s t o t a l l y wrong. Any reasons f o r not doing i t ' s t o t a l l y wrong'." At t h i s time, as Sid underwent a t o t a l l i f e review, he i s overwhelmed with feelings of disappointment, "disappointment with the whole fucking thing. I f e l t I'd been used, I f e l t I'd been wronged, I f e l t an inc r e d i b l e amount of disrespect had been given to me." This sense of disappointment may have been exacerbated by practices l i k e Mandala, which unlike Dorje Sempa, Sid experienced as meaningless, mechanical. The practices are experienced as mumbo-jumbo. Yet i n the midst of t h i s , the pain and the meaninglessness, the highly regarded teacher Jamgon Kongtrul Rimpoche t e l l s Sid to carry on, that the obstacles w i l l pass. And sure enough, on completion of the r e q u i s i t e number of mandala off e r i n g s , the " f i x a t i o n " on his friend, the f e e l i n g of having been ripped away from the midst of a feast, f e l l away and she was no longer an issue for him. And slowly too, he reaches a resolution on the retreat and on the disappointments and betrayals he has f e l t from his teachers. He recognizes that he has been projecting too many hopes and expectation sonto them, f e e l s a l i t t l e embarrassed. He sees these teachers now as mortals, l i k e himself, and while wishing that they had been more honest with him about t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s , forgives them as well, and thus prepares his return and his imminent entrance to the retreat. Upon returning, he makes a quick t r i p to v i s i t h is mother and brother, good-byes before leaving the world f o r a while. "I see a cold hurting pain i n the eyes of my family. There i s an ache of loneliness i n each of t h e i r hearts. We are a l l trapped i n who we are, our past history, the pain held, and the ignorance of not knowing any difference...the a i r i s so thick with moving changing mists and s w i r l i n g fogs of emotional v e i l s that cover everything and d i s t o r t any l i g h t t r y i n g to come through." And then, by early September, he has entered retreat, l i s t e n i n g to "monks chanting, crickets chirping, autumn song, f i l l s summer night". The regimen has begun. Sid begins discussion of t h i s period with a cautionary note. He's not sure how much he w i l l be able to reveal about his prac t i c e i n retreat since much of t h i s material i s generally held i n private between teacher and student. The nature of Vajrayana and the intimacy of the re l a t i o n s h i p between meditator and yidam preclude cert a i n areas f o r discussion, "It's very private, very personal, and there's a flavour of blessing that comes with the practices. Nevertheless, he's w i l l i n g to t r y . He begins by comparing the rel a t i o n s h i p with the yidams with people. Your response to them w i l l vary. Sometimes, " i t ' s l i k e being with a person 10 hours a day. Afte r a while, you get sick of them or maybe overwhelmed by them because they r e a l l y have a powerful presence and they h i t a l o t of buttons." The retreat i t s e l f consists of working with many yidams, with yogic p r a c t i c e s . Most of the practice i s done i n d i v i d u a l l y , i n your room, by yourself, but there are also group pr a c t i c e s . As the practices went on, day a f t e r day, month a f t e r month, one practice following another, Sid began to discern a pattern. In many ways, there's no choice i n the s i t u a t i o n : "so, I'd get a l o t of resistance to some things and I'd go through my resistance and I'd get angry and pissed o f f and frustrated and r e a l l y upset but then over a period of time I'd s t a r t to acclimatize and finding aspects that d i d work fo r me and emphasize those aspects and then some things could r e a l l y open up for me." The f i r s t p r a c t i c e he enjoyed but many others he did not. Prostrations, f o r example: "they bring out negative s t u f f inside of you. Just by the very nature of throwing yourself down on the ground and worshipping these imaginary d e i t i e s who you have no idea who and what they are." In p a r t i c u l a r , he found that way of manifesting humility d i f f i c u l t . He stopped 30,000 short of his r e q u i s i t e 100,000 prostrations and didn't s t a r t again. In the course of the f i r s t weeks, doing the prostrations, becoming aware of unpleasant group interactions, the doubts that he had struggled with i n India once again surged into awareness. Questions of authenticity arose again, what was he doing, was t h i s r e a l l y him? A disillusionment came on that p e r s i s t e d f o r the next three months. It was a r e a l l y tough struggle, j u s t to hang i n . Unless he could f i n d a way to personally connect with these practices, he knew he would have to quit. So then, he kept himself going with promises, going one yidam at a time, as he had heard that's where the "pay-off" lay. Also as time went on, more interpersonal c o n f l i c t arose. Sid became frus t r a t e d i n his interactions with the other retreatants, d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the teacher and the o v e r a l l learning environment. He was finding that when he went to h i s room to meditate, to practice the p a r t i c u l a r v i s u a l i z a t i o n s they were working on, thoughts and images of unresolved, negative interpersonal interactions would a r i s e . He started to see that "you get very s e n s i t i v e to what you're normally not conscious of, underlying moods and drives; fear ,insecurity, anger, a l l kinds of stuff...the very hidden undercurrents of what i s going on." This r e f l e c t i o n brings Sid d i r e c t l y to the two complementary sets of learning that he derived from the retreat : an appreciation f o r the power of the Vajrayana, and a new found awareness and understanding of his own psychological processes. [I'm] "much more conscious of what i s going on with me now. And not so embarrassed about i t , not so ashamed of when I f e e l a f r a i d , insecure, jealous, angry. Now, I can just see that and accept i t and say that's part of me...you become more and more i n touch with what you are." This experience stands i n stark contrast to a widespread and dominant notion about meditation as leading to some sort of enlightenment or being a " s p i r i t u a l superman" who i s beyond a l l negativity. It seemed to Sid as i f the other retreatants were going through a s i m i l a r process. He experienced the group enmeshed i n "very heavy game playing", a l o t of nastiness, bickering. On one occasion, Sid sat immersed i n his anger and resentment towards another retreatant f o r several days. This was only resolved a f t e r f i r s t recognizing the repetitiveness of the pattern, acknowledging that his d i s c u r s i v e mind was not changing the s i t u a t i o n or r e l i e v i n g his s u f f e r i n g and then posing, at a deep l e v e l , a bodily-l e v e l , the question: "What i s the essence of t h i s pattern?" The question led to a focus on body sensations which revealed a knot of tension i n the p i t of h i s stomach. "And what arose when I d i d that was t h i s deep sense of.fear and in s e c u r i t y and i t was the f i r s t time I a c t u a l l y caught that. And saw that I f e l t very insecure and intimidated by t h i s person i n that retreat. I f e l t very powerless. I f e l t l i k e a victim...and that was a very deep-rooted sense i n me...and once i t came up i t was l i k e the demon came up and was dancing i n front of me. And I had the fucker. Because I recognized that q u a l i t y of f e e l i n g had been i n my l i f e a l o t before. And I hadn't recognized i t . And now I f i n a l l y got the bastard, I knew who and what i t was." This was a b i g s h i f t f or Sid that influenced the course of the retreat from that point as he now had a handle on a previously unconscious pattern and having i d e n t i f i e d i t f e l t he had a way of working with i t . Indeed, t h i s experience profoundly influenced Sid's approach to meditation. Instead of counselling i n the t r a d i t i o n a l manner the l a b e l i n g and l e t t i n g go of thought/emotion, he has come to believe that one should contact t h i s f e e l i n g d i r e c t l y , f e e l i t and accept i t . He would not stop with t h i s "acceptance" but continue to question the source of such experiences. Working with t h i s process, Sid discovered that family images began to surface. "Mother, father, and then a whole l o t of sense of who and what I was and I started to come to the r e a l i z a t i o n that I didn't want to do i t the way I was raised. A l c o h o l i c father, co-dependent mother, r e a l l y messed up family background and I started to see, more and more, how much that affected me and shaped a l o t of my personality and drives i n me and a r e a l kind of compassionate a s p i r a t i o n that I can do something with i t . It's not a dead end." Accepting and working with these emotions that arose i n the course of his retreat meditations, Sid began to f e e l more and more integrated. With an understanding and acceptance of such feelings as v i c t i m i z a t i o n , intimidation, they would lose t h e i r power over him. He stayed with t h i s process over many weeks, hours on end, aware of his body relaxing, s h i f t i n g , as memories and images formed. Images of mother and father and his childhood with the feelings of childhood shame, of not-rightness, something poisonous. The v a r i e t y of yidams would draw f o r t h d i f f e r e n t images and f e e l i n g s . For two years, he waded through a series of "wretched deep depression, ...some s u i c i d a l kinds of thoughts, self-hatred and loathing and blackness. Just a deep f e e l i n g of wretchedness a l o t of the time." But slowly, the feelings l i f t e d and i t seemed as though a process of p u r i f i c a t i o n was taking place. And by following t h i s process of acceptance he was amazed, over time to see i n others, the same fears and v u l n e r a b i l i t i e s , and he found his heart going out to them i n a spontaneous compassion. I t was t h i s process that, i n retrospect, made the retreat worthwhile, gave i t i t s true meaning. By the t h i r d year, the technical elements of the retreat -the pujas, the d e t a i l s of the complex meditations - had been mastered and much of the group c o n f l i c t s had been resolved. People knew each others boundaries and l i m i t s and there seemed to be a mutual respect for these. "And I wasn't worried about becoming enlightened or at t a i n i n g anything. The s h i t got kicked out of that and more and more i t was just t r y i n g to be an ordinary human being. That was enough. Just t r y i n g to do that, that's enough. So I was f e e l i n g much stronger and happier with myself." The meditation p r a c t i c e of that period has l e f t Sid f e e l i n g much more content and whole. A previous desperation i n his seeking (for meaningful a c t i v i t y , for purpose and f u l f i l l m e n t ) has been replaced with a sense that he has something to bring to the world, something to bring to whatever a c t i v i t y he engages i n . The meditation "tools" "helped turn me inward, become much more conscious of what was going on inside and somehow that meaningfulness, that divine q u a l i t y of l i f e was a l i t t l e more accessible." Reflecting on h i s path, Sid suggests that the Vajrayana t r a d i t i o n of Buddhism with which he has been working i s i n essence "just a set-up to give you access to that meaningfulness i n l i f e , that divine q u a l i t y . " The techniques of meditation "somehow" connect one with the force of enlightenment represented by or embodied i n the teacher (in t h i s case Kalu Rimpoche). This connection with the teacher ("one of the most graceful, b e a u t i f u l men I've ever met") acts as compass and touchstone. "I just have to think of him and there's just t h i s h e a r t f e l t , l i t e r a l l y a h e a r t f e l t sense inside of a very deep profound connection...that gives me access to something e f f e c t i v e " . And i t i s t h i s that gives him the strength "to be Sid Whyte as he i s " . He honours t h i s connection deeply. So there seem to be at least two strong streams running through and ultimately converging i n Sid's experience of p r a c t i c e : the personal and what we would c a l l psychological process and the s p i r i t u a l . Blending these streams into a cognitive understanding i s d i f f i c u l t . C l a r i t y i s elusive, and Sid once again i s l e f t to r e f e r to a "very deep i n t u i t i v e sense" which i n t h i s context suggests that "by doing the practices and try i n g to l i v e i n an appropriate manner that's conducive to that awareness, that divine nature or whatever has a p o s s i b i l i t y of sparking through." It has been fourteen years since Sid l e f t Sudbury, sick at heart with the l i m i t e d and s p i r i t - l e s s options around him. He r e c a l l s his family there with regret, contemplating the degree to which alcohol become a substitute for meaning, a surrogate for openness and goodness. Sid seems to have discovered through his own struggle, v i a a path of meditation, the answer to the question posed many years before: "there's got to be something more than t h i s " . Since coming out of retreat a l i t t l e over a year before t h i s interview, Sid has met a woman and f a l l e n i n love, i s again seeking his way i n the world, making vocational decisions. Re f l e c t i n g on his path, he sees a new d i r e c t i o n opening. In some ways, Sid seems to have been "doing i t backwards from when I was very young." It's only now that he's r e a l l y started engaging i n "psychological work" - " tr y i n g to take that Western ego that's developed and make sure i t w i l l grow." To do t h i s , he's started undergoing therapy i n men's groups to continue exploring the issues which surfaced f o r him i n retreat. Individual therapy, reading Gestalt, Mindell, Gendlin and others, l i v i n g i n a family the way he could never have done before, are a l l part of t h i s exploration, and they are a l l "coming from t h i s t r a i n i n g , from these ten years of my Buddhist p r a c t i c e " . I t ' s i s as though he i s maintaining two types of ego. His Western ego and h i s Buddhist ego, which slowly came to b i r t h through his years of p r a c t i c e . His Tibetan ego, he refers to as "the foundation. That's when I come into t h i s (meditation) room and s i t down to p r a c t i c e . Being by myself, that's when I have the sense of being who and what I am i s r e a l l y strong." He maintains t h i s s e l f with regular practice but comments that he sometimes misses the i n t e n s i t y and depth of the meditation afforded by re t r e a t . It seems that t h i s p r a c t i c e sustains Sid while he ventures out into the newer and curently r i s k i e r struggle of developing his "Western ego", while he examines "these fears of r e j e c t i o n , a l l the symptoms of ACOA" with which he now struggles. Meditating now i s " l i k e drinking from the well". While the world continues to draw fo r t h negative feelings of not being loved, fears of r e j e c t i o n , anxieties and i n s e c u r i t i e s , meditation continues to put such feelings into perspective. His p r a c t i c e allows him "to loosen up a b i t and laugh at [himself]. We're here. Right now, i n t h i s moment, we're a l i v e r i g h t now. Really a l i v e now. Couple of days from now, we could be dead. Sure you're fucked up and neurotic and you had a h o r r i b l e family l i f e , the world's going a l l to h e l l , have a drink of wine, enjoy the sunset, enjoy each other, because i f you don't, i f you can't do i t now, you might never do i t . " GENERAL STORY In t h i s section, I w i l l present a general account derived from the f i v e i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s . While the preceding tales stayed very close to the language, voice and understanding of the participants, t h i s narrative, responding to the task of greater distance and interpretation, w i l l broaden our perspective so as to permit a new range of understanding, which at the same time always remains recognizable by the pa r t i c i p a n t s as t h e i r story. The general account w i l l be organized according to the themes which emerged. Questioning The story begins with a question, or perhaps more pr e c i s e l y with a questioning. For each of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h i s questioning occurs at d i f f e r e n t points i n t h e i r l i v e s , but regardless of i t s moment of occurrence, i t marks the beginning. For Augusta, i t i s occasioned by the vast open space of the P r a i r i e sky. For Sid, the question i s embedded i n a word, "love", written on a rock. Jane's question shakes her back to l i f e on a hospital bed at 30. For each, the question i s s i m i l a r . It i s the question expressed somewhat t r i t e l y i n the phrase, "what does i t a l l mean?" Given that the question arises at a l l and marks the beginning, i t i s important to acknowledge that i t does not a r i s e i n a vacuum. In each of the preceding s t o r i e s , i t arises i n a s p e c i f i c c u l t u r a l , s o c i a l and family context. And i n each, as well, inasmuch as each of these contexts i s h i s t o r i c a l l y conditioned, i t transcends them and addresses the fundamental and e x i s t e n t i a l questions of Being: f i r s t l y , what i s i t to be, and secondly, how s h a l l I l i v e or respond to t h i s fact of being. And while t h i s question marks the beginning of the story, we do not leave i t behind at that point, because i t continues to motivate and impel the ongoing path of each of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . D i s l o c a t i o n and loss Let us take up these several contexts, for an understanding of them i s c r i t i c a l f o r our story. The question arises from a need that i s at once personal and c u l t u r a l . This i s clear i n Sid's story as he r e f l e c t s on the fact that so many people i n his family and early m i l i e u were a l c o h o l i c . "They're competent and proud of t h e i r workmanship, but they have no v i s i o n i n t h e i r l i f e . They have no sense of what they're here f o r . This i s just work, eat, drink and fuck. Is that a l l there i s to t h e i r l i f e ? " Looking around for adult r o l e models i n Sudbury, Sid saw r e f l e c t e d back to him only the desperation and dead end of such a l i f e . Hamish, s i m i l a r l y , looked around himself i n graduate school and there were no models of what i t was to be an adult. In each of the s t o r i e s we f i n d an i n i t i a l lack of meaningful structures. This lack i n each case i s i n sharp contrast to an early sense of hopefulness. Jane expressed an interest i n s p i r i t u a l i t y i n childhood. Augusta, as well, from an early age, wanted to understand her experience and with her fr i e n d "wondered what i t a l l meant", but "nobody seemed to have very much wisdom i n the culture i n which I grew up." The structures of meaning which could sustain the development of these young people seem to be lacking. Augusta i s perhaps most e x p l i c i t . She sees at an early age the hypocrisy and corruption of p r i n c i p l e s i n the Church. Like her father and paternal grandmother, she i s di s i n t e r e s t e d i n materialism and finds the pursuit of wealth ignoble. Hamish noted a d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with C h r i s t i a n i t y and r e c a l l s arguing with his classmates i n high school about the existence of God. Sid i s vehement about C h r i s t i a n i t y . It "broke the back of any kind of authentic s p i r i t u a l i t y , crushed i t down and used i t to keep people down. It sickens me to think of what they did." He compares the achievement of goals i n our culture to eating whipped cream, devoid of substance. Dylan focused most e x p l i c i t l y on the impact of the absent father. It i s to the father that he looked for boundaries. for d i r e c t i o n and f o r support. The father was to carry and define the projects of l i f e f or the son. But he was not present. For Augusta as well, the father represented a loss, a lack, an absence: "he was r e a l l y unhappy because he couldn't relate to who I was because he had a fi x e d point of view about who he wanted." Searching There i s a seeking then, which does not seem to be reciprocated by the culture, i n e i t h e r i t s formal i n s t i t u t i o n s or the family. Indeed these structures are sometimes seen as obstructing the agency of the persons involved. This obstruction i s raised e x p l i c i t l y i n Jane's story. When she p a r t i c i p a t e s i n the c i v i l r i g h t ' s struggle, she i s ostracized by her immediate s o c i a l c i r c l e of friends who attempt to r e s t r i c t her a c t i v i t y to the s o c i a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y approved role of the Southern B e l l e . Later, i t i s an abusive and v i o l e n t husband who acts to constrain and control her. Her e f f o r t s i n each case to assert herself are highlighted through reference to the broader s i t u a t i o n of a r a c i s t and s e x i s t culture. While responding to the h i s t o r i c a l s p e c i f i c s of t h e i r time, the p a r t i c i p a n t s develop t h e i r own understanding of t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l s u f f e r i n g and discontent. Hamish speaks of his awareness of "inherent s u f f e r i n g " i n adolescence and young adulthood. For him, l i f e f e e l s constricted, i s abrasive. He i s concerned with people seeing through him, "an edge of something was wrong with me." There i s a lack of trust i n himself. Augusta had the f e e l i n g of always walking the fence or else being on the wrong side. Years l a t e r , i n meditation, Sid reconnects with some of his early feelings, "kind of l i k e a f e e l i n g of shame, kind of f e e l i n g not ri g h t , poisonous." For Jane, who was t h i r t y years old and had already established herself on a coherent l i f e path at the time, the awakening a f t e r her operation to the meaninglessness of l i f e i s a profound shock. Through such images and feelings, d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n and pain are experienced as intensely personal, bound up with one's own being, however much they may be mediated by the culture. They speak to something beyond time. However, though they are thrown into t h i s world and while struggling with i t s constraints, they experience glimpses of other p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Jane's sojourn with the Quakers creates a l i f e l o n g impression as does Augusta's connection with her father's mother. Dylan finds a strength within himself, to withdraw to a restfulness within. Hamish and Sid r e c a l l images of monks from f a r away. For each person, there are markers on the horizon that speak of p o s s i b i l i t y . Some, i f they are able, turn to academic studies of the arts or humanities i n college or uni v e r s i t y . Frequently, books present a l t e r n a t i v e worlds i n which a greater degree of meaning, a sense of freedom might be found. Books speaking of the wisdom and t r a d i t i o n s of other cultures play an increasingly important part i n the quest. Certain books i n p a r t i c u l a r are c i t e d with great regularity: Carlos Casteneda, Ram Dass, and Chogyam Trungpa. Seemingly unsupported or thwarted i n t h e i r own culture, other t r a d i t i o n s appear as the repository of the possible. Besides a search i n books, there i s as well a turn to e c s t a t i c experience. A l l f i v e of the p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced a l t e r e d states through the use of drugs; four of them i n t e n t i o n a l l y , the f i f t h accidently. These give r i s e to experiences of other states of mind, the f e e l i n g of a multitude of senses, a perception of other realms which were riche r , f u l l e r , more relaxed and open. Sid, f o r example, r e c a l l s his "acid-trucking" days: "we'd go out to these weird restaurants and there was a r e a l magic i n the a i r . " These experiences s o l i d i f i e d an i n t u i t i o n that there was more to r e a l i t y than that which had been presented by "mainstream" i n s t i t u t i o n a l culture. As well, by p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n socially-disapproved and i l l e g a l a c t i v i t y , the p a r t i c i p a n t s often set themselves against parents and other authority figures, using such opposition as further confirmation of themselves as outsiders. The experiences themselves would sometimes be taken f o r something r e a l and concrete i n themselves and Hamish for example, "had some idea that s p i r i t u a l p r a c t i c e could act as a gateway into these other realms." The compelling power of these e c s t a t i c experiences seemed s u f f i c i e n t to j u s t i f y them. Various ways to capture or maintain these states are attempted; a r t , dance, writing, music, trance states, the search f o r power s i t e s . But while t a n t a l i z i n g , there i s s t i l l some d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , some l e v e l of awareness that t h i s approach i s l i m i t e d . For Sid, on the streets, t h i s came quite quickly as he saw his friends burn out, become i l l or die or end up i n prison. For Hamish, the let-down a f t e r highs was an i r r i t a n t . Dylan wanted a s o l i d i f i c a t i o n of the experience that dissolved, an understanding. By now, one has usually heard or read of meditation and there i s an idea that t h i s may bring the desired state of mind or understanding that i s sought. There might be some e f f o r t to p r a c t i c e meditation but one i s not sure of exactly how to proceed. For others, there i s a search f o r someone to act as a guide. Meeting with the teacher Augusta's boyfriend sees a poster on the street. Friends of Sid and Dylan take them to see a lama. Hamish embarks on a search, checking the credentials of many s p i r i t u a l teachers who are passing through town. Jane goes to hear the teacher with the neighbours who have been teaching her meditation. They go with a mixture of c u r i o s i t y and hope, and sometimes fear as well. The meeting with the teacher i s a momentous event. While a person might see a number of teachers while on the quest, often one w i l l stand out as the teacher. The f i r s t meetings can be profoundly dramatic. Sometimes, the very f i r s t contact can be p i v o t a l . Augusta experienced something extraordinary the f i r s t time she saw Kalu Rinpoche. For the others, the c r i t i c a l meeting took place l a t e r . There seems often to be a l i n g u i s t i c and c u l t u r a l gap to be bridged p r i o r to the connection: Jane doesn't understand a word and Sid's "not impressed" with the teacher who looks t o t a l l y out of place i n his Tibetan garb i n Whitehorse. For them the connection i s l a t e r . Dylan i s immediately "drawn into the magnetism" of the teacher and i s impressed with his authority and c l a r i t y , but the r i t u a l , with i t s sense of the exotic, was also instrumental i n engaging him with the subsequent path of meditation. For Hamish, i t was not so much the i n i t i a l ceremony as the following interview that clinched his f e e l i n g that t h i s was " r e a l l y i t . " In that meeting, he experienced a " t o t a l groundlessness... infused with kindness" i n which a l l constrictions and preconceptions f e l l away. Acceptance by the teacher The impact of the teacher i s i n marked contrast to the lack of d i r e c t i o n and structure provided by the culture. The teacher i s experienced as someone credible, worthy of respect. Augusta was sometimes surprised at the depth of emotion she experienced i n his presence, or even now, just thinking of him. She r e c a l l s his kindness, the warmth which she i s accepted, but even more profoundly she i s moved by his wisdom. "That's why I s t a r t to cry...because I looked and looked with such longing f o r so long for someone who just spoke the truth." While Sid f i r s t sees just a shaky l i t t l e old man, seemingly out of place, he i s l a t e r impressed by the teacher's unpretentiousness and his confidence. He f e l t respected. But again, most of a l l , " i t ' s his depth of experience, his mind, his enlightenment touches me i n a very deep way...I f e e l l i k e a t h i r s t y man coming to water." The teacher answers a sense of incompleteness inside that no-one else has been able to s a t i s f y . Sometimes he would go f o r an interview with a l l sorts of questions, "and i t would be just one look from him, he'd just look r i g h t through me to the bone, deeper than I'd ever seen my s e l f . " The rel a t i o n s h i p u l t i m a t e l y involves "a l i t e r a l l y h e a r t f e l t sense inside of a very deep, very profound connection." For Dylan, the warmth that spontaneously arises when his teacher puts his arm around him i s overwhelming. He i s taken by surprise by the depth of his emotion. He knows he needs to understand t h i s experience. It i s years l a t e r , i n therapy, that he comes to understand t h i s as a longing f o r the father. Sid, as well, speaks of t h i s longing: "the need for mentors and not having them, the lack of the fathers, drunk or just unavailable. How much of that i s the Second World War? They're r e a l l y l o s t . " It i s the parent that embodies the past, a past which contains the patterns which can guide and shape us i n our l i v e s . It i s t h i s pattern and the structures which would hold i t which i s absent from the l i v e s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Jane's second thought on coming to i s , "I need a teacher." It i s the teacher/parent who embodies the meaning and p o s s i b i l i t y of i t s transmission. The subsequent path of meditation needs to be seen i n the context of t h i s broader f i e l d . And what i s unique here i s that the embodiment of meaningful t r a d i t i o n i s from, or represents, a c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n other than the student's. The desire for freedom and meaning, of expansion and personal development i s answered i n i t i a l l y by the depth and ful l n e s s of a foreign path. Struggle with the teachings At f i r s t , t h i s path can be quite bewildering. Elements of the teaching may seem so foreign, even i n i m i c a l to aspects of one's previous assumptions, that one might never even begin. Sid constantly struggled with the emphasis on s u f f e r i n g and argued the point with his teacher. There are conceptual problems, lack of information, l i n g u i s t i c d i f f i c u l t i e s . To the beginning student of meditation i t often seems as though there i s no-one who i s either w i l l i n g or able to explain how to do the meditation. D i f f i c u l t i e s i n meditation are often a t t r i b u t e d to one's own shortcomings: laziness, lack of d i s c i p l i n e , lack of understanding. The demands of balancing one's time for meditation with other needs and i n t e r e s t s are an ongoing problem that p e r s i s t f o r many beyond the i n i t i a l stages of p r a c t i c e . At d i f f e r e n t stages, but often i n the early days of intense pra c t i c e , powerful negative emotions and images a r i s e . During prostrations, Hamish experienced intense rage. Augusta wrestled with the v i o l e n t and f r i g h t f u l imagery of stabbing her f r i e n d . Sid suspects that he was becoming "very s e n s i t i v e to what you're normally not conscious of: underlying moods and drives, fear, insecurity, anger, a l l kinds of s t u f f , jealousy; you just r e a l l y s t a r t to get the sense of these very hidden undercurrents that are going on." As well as d i f f i c u l t i e s with meditation i t s e l f , the s o c i a l context of the pra c t i c e can also be problematic. There can be disagreements, even disillusionments, with one's teacher and fellow students. Such feelings of disappointment and betrayal can i n h i b i t one's practice or even drive one away from i t . For some, i t can seem as though one's i d e n t i t y i s being unraveled. Jane describes s t a r t i n g "to f e e l busted from day one." She found other students within her meditation community "very b r u t a l " i n confronting her: "It was very shocking to me: people from the streets of New York and Chicago t e l l i n g me to get o f f my t r i p . I was just too damn f r i e n d l y and they suspected that...I would just be devastated." While Jane found her former s t y l e to be attacked, others f i n d d i f f e r e n t struggles with negotiating an i d e n t i t y . Augusta and her boyfriend f o r a while w i l l i n g l y surrendered t h e i r s . They appropriated the s t y l e of the Tibetans, dressing, eating and meditating l i k e them, beginning to learn the language. At some point, there may be a r e a l i z a t i o n that the essence of the pr a c t i c e i s being missed. Augusta and Oliver saw t h e i r own behaviour mirrored i n the slavishness of other students and decided to leave the centre. Afte r l i v i n g f o r a while at the Dharma Centre following his return from India, Sid came to a s i m i l a r awakening: t a l k i n g to some non-Buddhists at a party, he became aware that "I found myself getting blocked i n t a l k i n g to them. I found I didn't f e e l comfortable, alienated and on the outside. I f e l t , 'this i s n ' t r i g h t . There's something wrong here.'" He too re a l i z e d that he needed to p u l l back i n some way and f i n d a balance between engaging i n practice and maintaining contact with his own culture. Thus, as well as learning the mechanics and techniques of meditation, the student must negotiate a number of s o c i a l tasks. These related challenges may take years to overcome. I n i t i a l experiences with the meditation practice i t s e l f , the teacher(s), and the community of fellow p r a c t i t i o n e r s determine whether one w i l l p e r s i s t with the journey. Each of the par t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study have been thus f a r successful i n negotiating the challenges. Experiences of success with meditation At f i r s t , there might be a sense as with Jane, that one i s "just pretending" to practice, even with a meditation that seems simple, such as following the breath. For her, i t took two years before she experienced d i r e c t l y some sense of calm and t r a n q u i l i t y i n her pra c t i c e . She kept going out of some kind of f a i t h or confidence alone, "somehow that i f I keep p r a c t i c i n g that something would happen or cease to happen and I didn't r e a l l y quite know what." Others, while s i m i l a r l y struggling with the technique, experience glimpses of states of mind which indicate something worthwhile happening. Dylan experienced a calming eff e c t with vipassana though i t didn't seem to make much difference from day to day. Hamish found that r e p e t i t i o n of the mantra "jammed his i n t e r n a l dialogue" and seemed to enable him to contact "more refined l e v e l s of mind". Augusta loved the energy and c l a r i t y of mind that arose i n prostrations. Such experiences act as confirmations of one's pr a c t i c e and keep one going, but i n themselves they may not be s u f f i c i e n t . Other students can help one through these times of confusion. One can f e e l a sense of very strong connection with them, a sense of engagement together i n a meaningful project. Integration into the meaningfulness of p r a c t i c e We s h a l l return to the process, meaning and impact of meditation i t s e l f , but f i r s t , the story w i l l illuminate another element of the meditation's context, one which both supports and impels an ongoing p r a c t i c e . As they l i s t e n to teachings and practice meditation, the meditators s t a r t to experience a s h i f t i n t h e i r motivation. Motivation for practice i s a central concern of Mahayana Buddhism, the t r a d i t i o n with which these people found themselves involved. From the very f i r s t contact with the teacher, motivation for involvement i s not only implied by the various concerns mentioned above, but i t i s also made e x p l i c i t by the teachers speaking from a t r a d i t i o n c e n t r a l l y involved with the a l l e v i a t i o n of s u f f e r i n g . They are reminded by the teachers that what they are doing i s an act of compassion f o r others. Before they meditate they remind themselves that while one's own needs for r e l i e f and f u l f i l l m e n t are being met, there i s an invocation to expand that desire, through an act of empathy, to a l l beings. The p a r t i c i p a n t s f i n d i n t h i s motivation a mirroring of t h e i r own deeply f e l t concern and need for others. Jane's involvement with the Quakers' v i g i l s during the c i v i l rights movement and, as a r e s u l t , "being pushed out of what had been a comfortable p o s i t i o n was part of my path of...taking a stand f o r the r e l i e f of people i n pain." Recalling that Sid's path begins with a stone on which the word "love" i s written, i t comes as l i t t l e surprise that " i f anything sold me on Buddhism, i t was the amount of compassion and love -for a l l sentient beings you do t h i s work, and try i n g to become enlightened so you can help a l l people." S i m i l a r l y , among the i n i t i a l a t t r a c t i o n s to the teacher and his teachings, p a r t i c u l a r l y the meditation on Chenrezig as the embodiment of compassion, was the sense of contrast Augusta f e l t here between the concern f o r a l l beings and that f o r our own which she f e l t permeated her Church background. The spontaneous manifestations of sorrow during her meditations now and which finds expression i n her painted depictions of the wounded heart bear witness to the same concern. The teacher and t r a d i t i o n r e f l e c t and c l a r i f y a compassion which may have been previously enfolded. This embodiment of compassion provides powerful motivation and connection not only at the beginning but along the length of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r meditative path. I t also becomes an antidote to an e l i t i s t p o s i t i o n that might otherwise develop. This concern i s seen, for example, i n Augusta. As well as maintaining an abhorrence f o r exclusion, she i s also at pains to minimize the use of meditation for self-aggrandizement. She wants meditation to be as simple and natural as brushing her teeth. By-grounding her practice i n an understanding that i t s frame of reference i s a l l beings, and not herself alone, she i s assisted i n guarding against i s o l a t i n g herself from a common world. This aspect of the process - a motivation which i s directed beyond oneself - i s p a r t i c u l a r l y important i n the i n i t i a l stages of the pra c t i c e . In the context of the prevalent trends of our modern or post-modern, generally secular humanist era, to embark upon a " s p i r i t u a l path" of any nature i s to engage i n an oppositional act. To assume a path from outside of the "Western" t r a d i t i o n seems doubly so. Since i t i s congruent with not only the Judeo-Christian t r a d i t i o n but also the s e c u l a r i s t i d e a l of progress, the emphasis on compassion provides the p r a c t i t i o n e r with an important continuity. Indeed, when Sid was struggling with doubts i n India, i t was the emphasis on compassion which kept him engaged. Si m i l a r l y , when Augusta returned to the meditation on Chenrezig following her period of greatest doubting, she experienced calmness and renewed resolve. Confirmation The r e s o l u t i o n of doubt and concomitant commitment to p e r s i s t i n g i n meditation practice i s supported by the combination of c l a r i f i e d motivation, f a i t h i n and connection with the teacher and fellow p r a c t i t i o n e r s and signs of success with the practice i t s e l f . These signs of success with meditation vary and include both external and in t e r n a l aspects. Often, the teacher w i l l provide some confirmation of the student's progress, as when the Korean teacher gave a tea ceremony i n Hamish's honour, or when Trogawa Rinpoche recognized and thus confirmed the heightened awareness that Dylan had achieved through concentrative study. However, at various times i n the course of one's practice, there w i l l be f a i l u r e s of support and confirmation. Mirroring the o r i g i n a l factors which have brought the student to the practice i n the f i r s t place - the fact of or perception of a break with a grounding and informing t r a d i t i o n - these times can present profound challenges to one's engagement. In fact the seeds can be discerned r i g h t at the beginning, i n the problems the partic i p a n t s had i n getting guidance and advice for t h e i r meditation. A f t e r that i n i t i a l d i f f i c u l t y has been surmounted, the challenge continues. Augusta experienced a degree of t h i s when, i n a state of desperation, she turned to the resident teacher to a s s i s t her with the recurrent images of stabbing her f r i e n d . The advice she received was useless. Fortunately, i n terms of proceeding with her practice, she had never come to see th i s man as a p a r t i c u l a r embodiment of the teachings. Sid has struggled with t h i s element of disappointment and betrayal frequently i n his path. He acknowledges i n retrospect that he was looking for a father or mentor and "having a whole l o t of i l l u s i o n s crumble". The teachers and older students "could not handle i t . They did not know how to do i t . . . I didn't understand that at that time, I just knew what I expected from these teachers and what I did get was b u l l s h i t . " Dylan r e f l e c t s on a recent s i t u a t i o n i n which a Tibetan teacher seems to be assuming a very authoritarian p o s i t i o n : "there's a place i n me that reacts with anger and indignant nature. It would probably be a reaction to the oppression of paternal authority rather than a larger point of view, rather than a s p i r i t u a l father...centered around the betrayal of how a teacher i s with his students, or how a father i s with sons, or a parent with children." He struggles to reconcile these events i n his "emotional" body with t h e i r resonances with personal h i s t o r y and his " s p i r i t u a l body" which i s oriented more towards the openness and depth of Being. Connection with s e l f and others The r e s o l u t i o n of such c o n f l i c t s i s es s e n t i a l f o r the continuation of p r a c t i c e . As we are seeing, engagement with the practice of meditation involves f a r more than mastery of cer t a i n techniques f o r relaxation or "strategies for s e l f -regulation". At one l e v e l , the practice i s profoundly s o c i a l , and while mediated, symbolized, and enacted within a seemingly s o l i t a r y and contemplative a c t i v i t y , i t nevertheless involves the negotiation of relationships with s i g n i f i c a n t others. The relat i o n s h i p with the teacher (or even the p r i n c i p l e of the teacher which may be discovered at times with one's peers) i s c r i t i c a l i n t h i s process. While t h i s i s the case, the confirmations which maintain one's motivation are more often experienced as in t e r n a l and of a s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l or s e l f - r e f l e c t i v e nature. The part i c i p a n t s v ariously report ph y s i o l o g i c a l relaxation, s h i f t s i n body awareness, calmness and reduction i n stress. These factors though, seem l a r g e l y secondary i n the accounts of the pa r t i c i p a n t s . More s i g n i f i c a n t are such experiences as greater insight into the nature of mind, c l a r i f i c a t i o n and transformation of problematic emotional states and the contact with deeper and r i c h e r sources of meaning and being. By looking now at the experiences of several of the parti c i p a n t s , we may be able to begin to understand the process through which these s h i f t s occur. Let us look at several accounts of t h i s . Dylan's conception (which i s at the same time an experience) of his " s p i r i t u a l body" provides us with our i n i t i a l approach. Problem solving He suggests that meditation i n i t s various forms serves to nourish his s p i r i t u a l body which has been awakened and shaped by contact with both s p i r i t u a l teachers and s p i r i t u a l places. He experiences t h i s s p i r i t u a l body i n terms of s h i f t s of perspective. It i s that which permits the transformation of otherwise negative and destructive emotional states. As he describes working with anger, for example, i n a meditative context, we can begin to get a sense of what i s operative: "to a c t u a l l y s i t with i t and a c t u a l l y watch what i t does to me f i r s t , on the physical body, what i t gnarls up, where the armouring i s , and then to f e e l what i t does emotionally, and then to f e e l what i t does s p i r i t u a l l y . . . and having gone through an awareness of a l l three of those l e v e l s , the net e f f e c t seems to be a transforming of that anger into an understanding of that anger." Before we move to an understanding of t h i s "understanding", l e t us look at two other instances of t h i s type of s h i f t . In retreat, Sid i s struggling with an ongoing emotional knot: "I was just getting more f r a n t i c and up t i g h t . So what I did was I just dropped a l l thinking as much as I could, just focused on what was happening i n my body...and what arose when I did that was t h i s deep sense of fear and i n s e c u r i t y and i t was the f i r s t time I a c t u a l l y caught that...and once that came up i t was l i k e the demon came up and was dancing i n front of me and I had the fucker!...And I found when I could accept i t , when I found fear, intimidation and I f e e l that kind of ashamed that I f e e l t h i s fear and intimidation, but there's part of me that a r i s e s and says, 'You have to treat that with compassion now'. And I have a rea l strong mental image of putting my arms around that emotion and p u l l i n g i t i n and saying, 'okay, t h i s i s okay...this I love, t h i s I w i l l give my warmth to, I w i l l care f o r t h i s ' . " When Jane i s at the nadir of her second re l a t i o n s h i p , h i t bottom, her facade f a l l e n to pieces, she was deeply involved with Vajrayogini p r a c t i c e : "and that deity i s on one toe and she has a hook knife and a s k u l l cup of blood and you i d e n t i f y with that being and I r e a l l y get personally the si g n i f i c a n c e f o r her of what happened to me. And so I can value everything now." What these three instances share i s an experience of the body i n a p a r t i c u l a r context. This context i s shaped by the culture of a p a r t i c u l a r (alien) t r a d i t i o n with a p a r t i c u l a r r i t u a l form from that culture. At the same time, the i n d i v i d u a l i s bringing his or her unique l i f e - p a t h into contact with t h i s t r a d i t i o n . The bodily experience of t h i s juncture permits a s h i f t which i s a resolution or accommodation of a problem or tension and i s also an opening to a broader dimension. While we have looked very b r i e f l y at three p a r t i c u l a r instances, a s i m i l a r pattern can be discerned i n other si t u a t i o n s . There i s a recurring theme of openness, of space, of groundlessness. Sometimes t h i s phenomena i s accompanied with experiences of warmth or kindness. It i s often experienced i n contact with the teacher. It can happen during eit h e r personal inteirview or i n the more formal settings of teachings and i n i t i a t i o n s . Both Hamish and Jane give examples of contact with teachers that "stop t h e i r mind". Sid describes the impact of receiving i n i t i a t i o n s from Kalu Rinpoche as "a gate that's been opened up. " These experiences can then act as reference points for the wide range of s p e c i f i c meditation practices i n the Vajrayana/Mahamudra t r a d i t i o n . They are a l l the more powerful i n that they tend to transcend previous categories and are more than simply eit h e r cognitive events or emotional experiences, though they encompass a l l of these. Hamish describes the impact of one such meeting that a c t u a l l y involved physical contact with the teacher: "He put his hand on my head . He just ran a whole l o t of current right through i t . I t was just extremely powerful. It was very very physical, a tremendously physical experience, of a blessing, and then, just l i g h t everywhere and I can remember being guided out of the room." It i s the p h y s i c a l i t y of the event that i s p a r t i c u l a r l y compelling. And i t i s the p h y s i c a l i t y of each meditation (ranging from the contemplations of the Four Thoughts, through shamatha-vipassana and ngundro, to the yidam practices) which provides the ground for the changes which occur. The p r a c t i t i o n e r s have strong reactions (both "physical" and "emotional") to the meditations with which they are engaged. Jane, for example, "hated" tong-len. The f i r s t few times, she "got si c k . I didn't l e t i t just v e n t i l a t e through me; I just took i t on and I got blockbustered." Sid "hated" prostrations, was bored by mandala offerings, but l i k e d Dorje Sempa. Each practice summons a response from the whole person, at a bodily l e v e l . Each practice consists of a p a r t i c u l a r set of gestures, physical or imaginai, that reveal or bring to awareness formerly hidden or cloudy elements of being and open new dimensions of experience. Participants refer, for example to the impact of the meditations on death which are involved with the Four Thoughts. Dylan r e c a l l s how, i n these contemplations, he would "start to notice p a r t i c u l a r aspects of (the denying process) and then be able to see that on a day to day basis, how we go through l i t t l e deaths, and what that d i s s o l u t i o n involves." It i s , he says, a " v i s c e r a l " experience. The p r a c t i c e of prostrations i s most a c t i v e l y involved with the physical a c t i v i t y of the body. Sid highlights the impact of some aspects of t h i s meditation. As mentioned previously, he "hated" these: "sometimes i t would be l i k e getting h i t i n the head with a sledge hammer - bang!" His problem was, i t "takes a great deal of humility, to throw yourself down on the ground...that doesn't come easy f o r me, that kind of humility." Many of these meditations involve v i s u a l i z a t i o n . In these, the body i s imagined as transfigured, and at the same time, v i v i d , c l e a r but devoid of l i t e r a l substance, " l i k e a dream". As Sid describes t h i s , " d i f f e r e n t yidam practices h i t d i f f e r e n t nerves...like with Vajrayogini, you've got this hot red woman i n flames, b ig knife and fangs: that's going to h i t c e r t a i n nerve endings i n you and i t ' s going to draw out ce r t a i n feelings i n you." And whatever the practice, there i s a d i s s o l u t i o n of the mental construction or imagery, and a resting of the mind, a return to the fundamental experience of groundlessness. This experience i n i t s f r u i t i o n , v a r i o u s l y described within the t r a d i t i o n , i s the goal of the entir e path. However i t is conceptualized and however subtly i t i s experienced the experience seems to be the primary touchstone for the meditator. It i s the essence of Dylan's " s p i r i t u a l body". For Augusta, that was always the favourite part of yidam practice, "just l e t t i n g the mind r e s t . " This groundless experience paradoxically becomes the ground which permits r e a l changes i n the p r a c t i t i o n e r ' s way of being i n the world, both with him- or herself and with others. As Sid puts i t , "there's something being touched on much more fundamental and deeper inside, something content. It's just present and so the thoughts and emotions that a r i s e aren't everything. They're not the whole l i f e . They're just part of what I am and so there's much more spaciousness f o r them to move. I don't have to associate myself with them. There's a place i n the meditation I can just rest, hang out, just be. And i t ' s not s t a t i c , i t ' s not l i k e s t a t i c s t i l l n e s s , e i t h e r : i t ' s a calm depth, i t ' s very f u l f i l l i n g , very enriching, l i k e coming home, l i k e coming back home." This i s the dimension which, while contacted during the unfolding of a personal story, opens into a v e r t i c a l dimension, i n which time i s no longer relevant. It i s not an event which happens once and for a l l , at a c e r t a i n moment i n time or point i n space. Instead, i t i s , as the Buddhist texts have i t , ground, path and f r u i t i o n a l l at once. It i s both the central element i n these s t o r i e s , to which a l l others r e f e r and i t i s t h e i r horizon, the boundary which contains them. While the s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n s of the West formerly provided access to t h i s domain, i t has been discovered by the pa r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s research within the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n of the South and Central Asia. But as well as t h i s v e r t i c a l dimension, there i s a horizontal dimension which i s equally important which needs to be highlighted here. Whatever form the meditation takes i t has a profound s o c i a l component as well. For the practice i t s e l f embodies a communication not only with the teacher (and through him the succession of previous teachers of the lineage and the whole weight of the tradition) but also by projection with the objects of the practice, namely a l l sentient beings throughout l i m i t l e s s space. It i s through reference to these two dimensions that the q u a l i t y referred to as " s p i r i t u a l " takes on meaning. Re-engagement with the world Int e r e s t i n g l y though, the story does not end there. Each of the f i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s has been a c t i v e l y engaged i n one or more forms of western psychotherapy as well as continuing with t h e i r meditation. Rather than experiencing any c o n f l i c t between the two approaches, they unanimously suggest a supportive complementarity. Dylan, involved with one therapist now f o r four years, talks about uncovering the h i s t o r y of his emotional body. His experiences as a c h i l d and infant have profoundly shaped his emotional l i f e and therapy f o r him i s an "archeology dig". Again, i t i s his s p i r i t u a l body that provides a context f o r understanding his emotions as well as being the basis of moral and e t h i c a l decisions. Were he to act e x c l u s i v e l y out of his emotional responses to the world, he would be acting i r r e s p o n s i b l y and unconsciously. S i m i l a r l y , Hamish has experienced the release of "some patterns that had been entrenched i n the body, long enough for d i f f e r e n t energy to a r i s e , d i f f e r e n t experience to a r i s e . " The main difference between the therapeutic and s p i r i t u a l approaches for him i s that the former works on "a kind of more r e l a t i v e l e v e l . " For Sid, therapy i s c e n t r a l l y connected with the construction of a "Western ego". "What I was s t a r t i n g to r e a l l y crave and seek i t out was I wanted my Western ego to grow. I wanted Sid Waters, the guy from Sudbury, I wanted him to grow. I wanted the man of t h i s Canadian twentieth century society to grow." Augusta found that she r e a l l y needed a therapist when her l i f e became p a r t i c u l a r l y confusing, that a Western therapist could understand the patterns of experience that are unique to our culture, such as formative experiences i n an a l c o h o l i c family. Like Dylan and Hamish, she finds that insights i n therapy can deepen the meditation p r a c t i c e . As well, therapy f o r her "released a l o t of very powerful emotions and the meditative practice made me able to accommodate them i n the sense of having enough room to experience them." For each, i t i s as though meditation provides a background for the therapeutic restructuring of t h e i r personal story, allowing them to receive the insights of therapy. It provides a space i n which more coherent or meaningful forms can a r i s e . The impact of these many years of involvement with the practice and path of meditation on the i n d i v i d u a l research p a r t i c i p a n t s i s described i n some d e t a i l i n t h e i r personal s t o r i e s . Several common elements stand out. There i s a general sense of being more open to others, of being freer from the tendency to project blame onto others and instead to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for t h e i r own perceptions and actions. Participants are able to contrast a former mode of being with t h e i r current one c i t i n g , for example, a s h i f t from uncomfortable to comfortable, from cyn i c a l to trusting, and from self-absorbed to concern f o r and involvement with others. Overall, there i s a sense of agency or empowerment which i s gentle rather than aggressive. As Sid puts i t , "the sort of paradox about Dharma that I f i n d i s i t doesn't make you more special, i t makes you more ordinary." Jane describes the same experience when she talks about her f e e l i n g of belong-ing: "I belong. I belong here and that's very confidence giving, makes me f e e l l i k e I have a right here...you don't have to push your weight around." While s p e c i f i c points of change may be hard to locate, there i s a sense of substantial movement over the years. Each person i n i t i a l l y reacted to the lack of a l i v i n g body of t r a d i t i o n by decisive exploration of a range of p o s s i b i l i t i e s . This search led them to such a t r a d i t i o n , the meditation path of Vajrayana Buddhism. In pursuing that path, they have at once broken with t h e i r own c u l t u r a l background and at the same time developed and enriched i t . Relating to the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n through i t s exemplars, world view and r i t u a l embodiments and meeting the challenges of such an interchange, they have discovered an openness towards experience which affirms t h e i r sense of who they are. A stance o r i g i n a l l y oppositional to Western culture (which could otherwise lead into deeper cynicism, n i h i l i s m and narcissism) has been transformed into an opportunity for growth and wholeness that, while never a f i n i s h e d process, i s experienced as profoundly healing. COMMENTARY I set out to discover the pattern of experience involved i n long-term meditation from the perspective of Western p r a c t i t i o n e r s who have been engaged i n such practice f o r an extended period of time. This pattern of experience has been described i n the form of a narrative with a d i s t i n c t beginning, middle and end. Certain themes emerged within t h i s story that provide structure, d i r e c t i o n and coherence. In t h i s section, I s h a l l summarize the issues that seem most relevant to a psychotherapeutic understanding of the process of meditation. The story as constructed was validat e d by each of the par t i c i p a n t s as well as by the independent observer. This v a l i d a t i o n , while not equivalent to a proof within the empirical science t r a d i t i o n , constitutes an agreement that the story corresponds with the experience of the pa r t i c i p a n t s . The v a l i d a t i o n of the story i s possible because the s p e c i f i c themes or organizing structures of the narrative have been recognized by the parti c i p a n t s as r e f l e c t i n g t h e i r l i v e d experience. In many ways, the story follows the pattern of the hero's journey (Campbell, 1968). The story begins with a question, a d i s l o c a t i o n , a summons of sorts, proceeds through a series of t r i a l s , and culminates i n a triumphant return with a boon to the community. The story moves from disorder to order, which i s the pattern of the comic form, as opposed to the t r a g i c , i n which a flaw of character leads to ultimate di s a s t e r and l o s s . In addition to these metaphors, "path" i s another central organizing concept. As there are numerous references i n what follows to the meditative (or more s p e c i f i c a l l y , the Buddhist) "path", a few words regarding t h i s concept are i n order here. As well as having a metaphoric function, "Path" i n t h i s context has a technical aspect, being the l i n k i n g factor between the "Ground" (or basis of enlightenment: reality-as-such) and the " F r u i t i o n " ( r e a l i z a t i o n of r e a l i t y as i t is) aspects of s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n . As one commentator puts i t , the "path" " i s the ongoing process of l i f e and growth, the expansion and extension of our being. Actually, the "path" only indicates one aspect of being and i t i s only a f i g u r a t i v e way of d i v i d i n g l i f e into a ground or s t a r t i n g point, a path, and a goal" (Guenther, 1975, 7). Regarding the pathways described i n the preceding s t o r i e s , i t could be argued that from an "objective" standpoint the CO-researchers might have l i t t l e to be happy about. In t h e i r l i v e s , they have experienced many blows and many losses. Each of them l i v e s some distance from t h e i r family of o r i g i n . Their s t o r i e s include elements of estrangement from family and society, breakdown of relationships, personal or family drug and alcohol use, i l l n e s s , brushes with death and in j u r y to loved ones: a series of disappointments. Each of these events could be a seed for g u i l t , f o r despair, f o r cynicism. Yet t h e i r s t o r i e s are confirmed as p o s i t i v e . How i s t h i s to be understood? Are the st o r i e s i n d i c a t i v e of self-deception and denial? Or, on the other hand, can they be read as exemplary, as providing valuable information and insight into the use of meditation as a transformative tool which has contributed s u b s t a n t i a l l y to a personal healing? It i s s i g n i f i c a n t that the f i v e co-researchers, chosen on the basis of t h e i r long-term engagement with meditation, were s t i l l involved i n thi s p r a c t i c e . For each of these f i v e , i t i s l i k e l y that there are many others who began to practice at the same time as they, only to drop the practice during the course of t h e i r l i f e . These are people who have persisted and the s t o r i e s which they t e l l are st o r i e s of persistence. The s t o r i e s , i n a sense, j u s t i f y , maintain and support t h e i r continued involvement with meditation. While the general story can be analyzed i n many ways, certain themes seem to stand out. The following themes, while not appearing i n a l i n e a r and d i s j u n c t i v e fashion, can nevertheless be i d e n t i f i e d to varying degrees i n both the ind i v i d u a l and general s t o r i e s . Each story contains elements of a) d i s l o c a t i o n and los s ; b) questioning; c) searching; d) meeting the teacher; e) acceptance by the teacher; f) struggle with the teachings; g) experiences of success with meditation; h) integration into the meaningfulness of practice; i) confirmation; j) connectedness with s e l f and other; k) problem solving; and, m) (re)engagement with the world. Thus the story begins with loss and ends with discovery; begins with rupture and ends with connection. It seems s i g n i f i c a n t that each co-researcher stresses, i n t h e i r own way, the complementarity of med i t a t i o n / s p i r i t u a l path and counselling/therapy/personal growth. Meditation seems to provide a context f o r the discoveries which take place within therapy, as well as, perhaps, strengthening the i d e n t i t y of the meditator and thus enabling the therapeutic process. In any case, the affirmation that i s depicted at the end of the story i s not so much a completion, an enlightenment or state of unending happiness or even calm. Each person continues to struggle with the vagaries of l i f e . The end of the story and the f r u i t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l p ractice of meditation has been the construction of an encompassing and meaningful world view which i s supported and maintained by a va r i e t y of forces. Among these forces are other meditators, one or more teachers held to be s i g n i f i c a n t by the meditator, the pred i s p o s i t i o n and a b i l i t y to r e c a l l to mind elements of the teachings which are of immediate relevance to eithe r practice or d a i l y l i f e , and an on-going meditation practice of s a t i s f y i n g frequency and qua l i t y . The s t o r i e s permit an understanding of the practice of meditation within a broad context. People meditate for a va r i e t y of reasons. There seem to be both i n t r i n s i c and e x t r i n s i c motivations and rewards. The meditators involved i n t h i s study would seem to be concerned p r i m a r i l y with i n t r i n s i c factors of meaningfulness, though arguments could no doubt be made i n favour of external factors such as po s i t i v e reinforcement from the environment. Refle c t i n g further upon the contributions of the meditative path to the well-being reported by the pa r t i c i p a n t s , c e r t a i n factors stand out. Chief among these are the importance of the guru or teacher; an enhanced awareness (with both cognitive, a f f e c t i v e and behavioural components) of personal and interpersonal processes; an enhanced sense of personal power r e s u l t i n g from increased control over stress and tension; the v a l i d a t i o n of feelings of love and caring f o r others as a confirmation of the experience of compassion (a c r i t i c a l component of the Buddhist path); and the o v e r a l l sense of s e l f - v a l i d a t i o n v i s a v i s "belonging", which results from the combination of these factors. The various p a r a l l e l s between these factors and those of the psychotherapeutic enterprise w i l l be taken up i n the following chapter. For now, I wish to elaborate on each of them i n turn, remaining within the context of the meditators' experience. The teacher acts i n i t i a l l y as a model fo r an i d e a l or exemplary human being. The discovery of the existence of t h i s person i s at once a tremendous r e l i e f , a revelation, and a goad to action. In response to t h i s p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of the i d e a l , the meditator i s inspir e d to follow his (or her) example, the example of meditation i n i t s various forms, supported by study and contemplation. As the meditator continues to practice, the totalism of t h i s i d e a l i z a t i o n i s threatened and must be negotiated. The super-human aspects of one's f i r s t (or root) teacher are replaced (or complemented) with a more " r e a l i s t i c " a p p r a i s a l . Paradoxically, i n the course of t h i s process, not only i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p further developed and enhanced but also the student comes to see that the i d e a l o r i g i n a l l y sensed i n the teacher i s perhaps accessible to his/her own experience. F i n a l l y , i t i s the teacher who continues i n a var i e t y of ways to confirm the progress (and to some extent the identity) of the student. Through following the in s t r u c t i o n s of the teacher, the student becomes aware of how he or she constructs r e a l i t y . This process can begin with the f i r s t attempts at meditation and continues throughout the path. The s t o r i e s i l l u s t r a t e many of the experiences of enhanced, alt e r e d or uncovered awareness a r i s i n g with the practice of meditation. This begins while attempting to keep one's attention upon the recommended object of awareness. One r e a l i z e s the strength and compulsion of the spontaneous f l u x of one's thoughts and feelings and the d i f f i c u l t y of attending systematically to t h i s changing stream of mental events. As the meditator continues to practice, patterns of mental functioning are recognized and t h i s self-awareness begins to s p i l l over into interpersonal relationships r e s u l t i n g i n a greater sense of personal freedom and control. S i m i l a r l y , as well as becoming increasingly aware of habitual patterns of experience, the meditator begins to experience moments of c l a r i t y and calmness within or behind these normal and compulsive patterns. As he or she p e r s i s t s , these experiences appear to become more frequent and sustained. The experience of s t a b i l i t y and c l a r i t y becomes coupled with the self-awareness mentioned previously to further enhance a sense of i d e n t i t y and personal e f f i c a c y . In the ongoing involvement with the teacher and teachings, th i s experience i s understood i n part as the arousal of compassion, not only as the desire that other beings be free from suffering, but also that others be treated with equanimity and experience happiness. The element of compassion i s a c r i t i c a l component of the meditator's experience, at least within the approach followed and examined i n t h i s study. The teachers explain that compassion and wisdom must be developed together, as the two wings of a b i r d , i n order for l i b e r a t i o n or ultimate r e a l i z a t i o n to be had. Compassion i s stressed over and again. The awakening of compassion marks a s h i f t from the ego-centric preoccupation with one's own confusion and s u f f e r i n g to a mindful concern with the p l i g h t of the others with whom we share a world. The experience of compassion i s regarded as an i n d i c a t i o n of s p i r i t u a l development as i s spontaneous devotion to one's teacher. While t h i s continual reference to a l t r u i s t i c motivation might imaginably give r i s e to feelings of personal imperfection and shame, the contrary seems to be the case. As compassion develops from a concept to an experience through study and meditation, feelings of i s o l a t i o n from others and the sense of l i f e ' s absurdity or meaninglessness dissipates, along with one's personal feelings of worthlessness. As well, to the degree that one auth e n t i c a l l y puts the happiness of others before one, the more grounded and affirmed one f e e l s . The underlying pattern of psychological poverty with i t s concomitant shame and worthlessness seems to be undermined, to be replaced by a movement towards a f e e l i n g of belonging and the courage to be and act "oneself". That t h i s belonging and courage are expressed i n part i n every story as a willingness to enter into therapy or counselling indicates at least two things. The f i r s t i s that meditation alone (as they have practiced i t ) has not answered a l l of the questions put by l i f e to the CO-researchers. Day to day concerns of interpersonal and s o c i a l l i f e s t i l l clamour for resolution. Questions remain as to whether meditation i n forms developed, practiced within, and translated from s p e c i f i c cultures i s capable of responding f u l l y to the needs of a receiving culture. It i s possible that given a ce r t a i n duration and i n t e n s i t y of meditation practice that i t alone could be a s u f f i c i e n t "therapy". In t h i s case, the lack of opportunity to practice, given the structures of our day to day and year to year l i f e i s a r e a l constraint. It i s often i n response to such an idea that the co-researchers i n t h i s study entered therapy. The second implication i s that meditation does not become or remain the s o l i p s i s t i c or "navel-gazing" enterprise which some detractors have c a l l e d i t . The co-researchers i n t h i s study, rather than re t r e a t i n g into a t o t a l i s t i c or fundamentalist approach to the world i n which meditation and " s p i r i t u a l i t y " are the answer to a l l questions, remain open and questioning. This chapter has provided a general account of the process of long-term engagement with meditation as abstracted from the case s t o r i e s of f i v e i n d i v i d u a l s . The general story has revealed a set of common themes and has suggested a number of important factors, including the importance of the role of the teacher, and the development of i n t e r r e l a t e d enhancement of belonging, personal power, e f f i c a c y and compassion. In the following chapter, I w i l l examine these findings i n l i g h t of Western theories of counselling and psychotherapy. CHAPTER SIX DISCUSSION The experience of long-term naturally-occurring meditation has been described and examined i n the preceding chapter. The meditation experience of f i v e people was presented i n the form of phenomenological narratives. These st o r i e s were then condensed into a general story which answers the question posed at the outset of t h i s study, namely, what i s the pattern of experience involved i n the pra c t i c e of meditation from the perspective of long-term meditators. In t h i s chapter, we w i l l examine the answer to t h i s question i n the context of psychological theory. Following a summary of the r e s u l t s , the strengths and l i m i t a t i o n s of the study w i l l be considered. The th e o r e t i c a l and p r a c t i c a l implications of the res u l t s w i l l then be presented, followed by suggestions for further research. Summary of findings The general story has revealed a va r i e t y of themes common to the unique s t o r i e s of the co- researchers. Each of them came to meditation as the r e s u l t of a d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with l i f e as i t had been experienced to that point. Meditation seemed to o f f e r some hope for the r e l i e f of the mental, emotional, or s p i r i t u a l s u f f e r i n g experienced by the CO-researchers. Meditation provided a r a d i c a l a l t e r n a t i v e to the normal lifeways offered by t h e i r own family and c u l t u r a l backgrounds which seemed lacking the compelling sense of d i r e c t i o n and purpose which they sought. For each of the co-researchers, the teacher was of great si g n i f i c a n c e , providing emotional support and v a l i d a t i o n . He represented an i d e a l human being to which one could aspire. He was a person who had discovered the truth about l i f e and embodied i t i n his own existence. Contact with him provided motivation f o r following the meditative path. As they continued the relationship, followed t h i s path and deepened t h e i r practice of meditation, the co-researchers gained a heightened awareness of the pattern of t h e i r experience and a greater sense of control over i t . Slowly, the teachings imparted by t h e i r teacher took on greater meaning as they continued t h e i r study and p r a c t i c e . Concepts such as emptiness and compassion became more f u l l y integrated with t h e i r d a i l y l i v e s , i n t h e i r i n t e r a c t i o n with friends, family and others. However th i s i n t e g r a t i o n was i n no case accomplished without c o n f l i c t . Each co-researcher struggled i n t h e i r own way with doubts and fears. For some the teacher was the focus of these c o n f l i c t s , while for others, t h e i r fellow p r a c t i t i o n e r s became the focus of doubt and questioning. These questions were organized around such concerns as honesty, authenticity, i n t e g r i t y , and devotion versus b l i n d f a i t h . Over time, each co-researcher was able i n t h e i r own way to resolve these questions. This negotiation l e d to a heightened sense of self-esteem which was i n marked contrast to the i n i t i a l state of estrangement and loss which brought them to meditation. The s t o r i e s reveal that the co-researchers have developed an enhanced sense of personal i d e n t i t y . They experience a sense of belonging to a p a r t i c u l a r community, path, or c u l t u r a l phenomenon which gives them a sense of d i r e c t i o n and purpose. In contrast to t h e i r r e c o l l e c t i o n of t h e i r state of being when they began meditating, the co-researchers experience themselves as more capable, more s o c i a l l y oriented, and with a greater openness to experience. Each of the f i v e experienced a willingness and desire to enter into counselling/therapy and saw t h i s experience as complementary to meditation. The movement revealed i n the general story from i n i t i a l estrangement, d i s o r i e n t a t i o n and meaninglessness to t h e i r opposites can be seen to require the accomplishment of three tasks: 1) the development and resolution of the student-teacher rel a t i o n s h i p and the related issue of idealism and s p i r i t u a l materialism (Trungpa, 1973); 2) the mastery of the meditation techniques; and 3) the successful learning of a new set of constructs and values and t h e i r subsequent integration into everyday experience, including relationships with others. Limitations of study Due to the nature of the paradigm and methodology being used, the study does not lend i t s e l f to the " t r a d i t i o n a l " project of p r e d i c t i o n and control. In t h i s approach, no attempt i s made to generalize to a p a r t i c u l a r population. These s t o r i e s of f i v e people who have maintained a practice of meditation over many years simply illuminate the target experience. The primary l i m i t a t i o n s of the study r e s u l t from the p r a c t i c a l and l o g i s t i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s of the interview process. More subjects may have contributed additional d e t a i l while greater length of interviews may have done the same. The process as followed i s very time consuming. The data are lim i t e d , as are a l l s e l f - r e p o r t s , to what the CO-researchers can re l a t e or explicate. The co-researchers' l e v e l of awareness i s necessarily lim i t e d , f o r example, by lapses of memory and se l e c t i v e attention, which a f f e c t s the breadth, depth and pr e c i s i o n of information av a i l a b l e . The use of projective tests or other measurements, while useful i n providing normative data, are not applicable i n t h i s type of study with i t s focus upon narrative self-understanding. Another l i m i t a t i o n of the study i s the f a c t that each of the pa r t i c i p a n t s have been involved i n one or other forms of psychotherapy f o r various lengths of time. While the par t i c i p a n t s were unanimous i n t h e i r insistence on the complementarity of the two processes, i t i s not possible to make causal statements about the r e l a t i v e impact on t h e i r development of meditation compared with psychotherapy. Theoretical implications Before proceeding, a few words of introduction are i n order. This research has l a r g e l y overcome the problems of decontextualization and time l i m i t a t i o n s which l i m i t experimental approaches. Rather than viewing meditation as a s o l i t a r y and a s o c i a l a c t i v i t y which i s primarily an intrapsychic phenomenon, i t has provided a d i f f e r e n t perspective. While meditation, among other contemplative practices, generally displays l i t t l e actual physical movement or motion, nevertheless i t i s an instance of human action. To paraphrase Watzlawick, "one cannot not act". Paradoxically, the intention "to not act" i s the essence of c e r t a i n types of meditation. This stance i s perhaps most f a m i l i a r to us i n the translations of the Zen Buddhist l i t e r a t u r e s of China and Japan (cf., Suzuki, 19 69). It i s also a central element i n the Mahamudra and Maha A t i l i t e r a t u r e s of Tibet which provides the philosophical underpinning for the meditation practices studied here. Meditation has often been interpreted by Western writers (e.g., Alexander) as a non-communicative act, a s o c i a l , i f not a n t i - s o c i a l i n nature. At f i r s t glance, t h i s aspect appears to c l e a r l y d i s t i n g u i s h meditation practices from our Western t r a d i t i o n s of change - the modernist inventions of psychotherapy as well as the praxis of revolutionary s o c i a l change. An al t e r n a t i v e view i s that meditation, as an int e n t i o n a l human act, i s a communicative act and a profoundly s o c i a l act, the nature and benefits of which w i l l thereby be more adequately, understood. Elements of such an al t e r n a t i v e perspective w i l l be discerned i n the following discussion. Temporality The s t o r i e s , both i n d i v i d u a l and general, highlight the need to look at meditation as a long term process. This study suggests that consolidation of the benefits of meditation occurs along with the f u l f i l l m e n t of three i n t e r r e l a t e d tasks. I t i s u n l i k e l y that t h i s can be accomplished within the l i m i t e d duration of pra c t i c e implied by the majority of studies published thus f a r . The complexity of these tasks as revealed i n the s t o r i e s helps to explain e a r l i e r findings (e.g.. Brown and Engler, 1986) which showed minimal progress i n personality growth a f t e r even three months of intensive d a i l y p r a c t i c e . Motivation and re s u l t s of meditation Unlike research subjects or patients who are instructed to meditate to a l l e v i a t e s p e c i f i c physical or psychological complaints (e.g., phobias, addictions, anxiety), the co-researchers i n t h i s study were motivated by a more global sense of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n or s u f f e r i n g . While the s t o r i e s provide anecdotal support f o r the benefits i d e n t i f i e d by the behavioural researchers, they were impelled by a h o l i s t i c c r i s i s of meaning and value rather than by a hope fo r r e l i e f from s p e c i f i c symptoms. The i n i t i a l motivation i s an experience of lack, loss, or absence. I n i t i a l l y , the p a r t i c i p a n t s hope for and expect a re s o l u t i o n of t h i s absence. For example, the p a r t i c i p a n t s imagine they w i l l "become enlightened" or they w i l l achieve "states of mind" which w i l l bring s a t i s f a c t i o n . I n i t i a l l y , the CO-researchers imagine that meditation w i l l bring an end to the anxiety which marks t h e i r l i v e s . Ideally, the path w i l l culminate i n an ongoing state of happiness or b l i s s , a state of pe r f e c t i o n which may be psychological, emotional, s p i r i t u a l or a combination thereof. As they p e r s i s t i n t h e i r p ractice through the years, disappointments with the process force a re-examinâtion of motivation. There i s often an i n i t i a l , profound disappointment when the meditator i s not magically going to be "enlightened" through either mechanical r e p e t i t i o n of meditation techniques or his/her r e l a t i o n s h i p with the teacher. If these disappointments are successfully negotiated, the participants r e f e r increasingly to the s a t i s f a c t i o n of being engaged i n the process of l i f e i t s e l f . This process finds an e x p l i c i t p a r a l l e l i s m i n Frankl's (1984) sense of "tragic optimism" which "allows for: (1) turning s u f f e r i n g into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from g u i l t the opportunity to change oneself f o r the better; and (3) deriving from l i f e ' s t r a n s i t o r i n e s s an incentive to take responsible action" (162). Frankl determined that a sense of meaning of l i f e was a v a i l a b l e through work, love or s u f f e r i n g . Love, suf f e r i n g , g u i l t , and impermanence are each at various points objects of meditations f o r the people i n t h i s study. To a large extent, these themes are linked through the concept of b o d h i c i t t a : one meditates f o r the benefit of a l l sentient beings. As the meditators become more e x p l i c i t l y engaged with t h i s motivating factor t h e i r motivation undergoes a transformation and there i s a movement away from a s e l f i s h or s t r i c t l y e g o i s t i c o r i e n t a t i o n . As well as providing the impetus and energy f o r continued meditation, the motivation of r e l a t i n g d i r e c t l y to and making meaning from s u f f e r i n g now connects the meditator with both the teachers (and lineage) and with " a l l beings" as the reference point. At the same time, the experience provides i t s own reward i n the form of enhanced physical and psychological well-being, both during the meditation session i t s e l f , and i n post-meditation periods. This s h i f t from a focus upon one's own ( n a r c i s s i s t i c ) g r a t i f i c a t i o n to a more objective stance toward r e a l i t y i s reminiscent of the movement i n Adlerian psychology from mistaken l i f e goal to Gemeinschaftsgefuhl, or s o c i a l i n t e r e s t . The mechanics of t h i s movement are s i g n i f i c a n t and involve the mastery of each of the three tasks i d e n t i f i e d i n the s t o r i e s : r e l a t i o n s h i p with teacher, technical mastery, and cognitive restructuring. Teacher-student r e l a t i o n s h i p One of the key elements of the impact of long-term meditation revealed by t h i s study was the role of the teacher, guru, or lama. This importance bears many p a r a l l e l s with the r e l a t i o n s h i p with a therapist as well as some differences. In his t r a n s c u l t u r a l study of psychotherapy. F u l l e r Torrey (1986) suggests that the personal q u a l i t i e s of the psychotherapist (whether known as a witchdoctor or psy c h i a t r i s t ) i s one of the basic components of psychotherapy: "not only the actual personality c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the therapist but those projected onto the therapist by the c l i e n t " (1986, 35). Torrey stresses that everywhere the re l a t i o n s h i p i s a personal one. When applying his study to the p r a c t i c a l question of seeking a helper (psychotherapist) to help you with problems of l i v i n g , Torrey suggests that you seek a helper who 1) shares your world view; 2) makes you f e e l comfortable and seems genuinely interested i n you; and 3) i s trustworthy. On the l a t t e r point, he c i t e s Strupp, et a l (1977, 137): "Avoid therapists who f a i l to show common courtesy i n human interactions, who are overly zealous, who make extravagant claims, and who i n general lack human q u a l i t i e s of warmth, concern, respect, understanding and kindness. Beware of pompousness, h o s t i l i t y , harshness, lack of seriousness, seductiveness, inappropriate f a m i l i a r i t y , and 'phoniness' of a l l kinds. Above a l l , make sure the therapist impresses you as a decent human being who you can t r u s t . " Within the Buddhist (and other meditative) t r a d i t i o n , the ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the teacher are s i m i l a r l y very important and e x p l i c i t . According to Gampopa (Guenther, 1971, 34), the teacher should be endowed with eight q u a l i t i e s : " ( i) to possess a Bodhisattva's d i s c i p l i n e i n ethics and manners, ( i i ) to be well versed i n the Bodhisattvapitaka, ( i i i ) f u l l y to comprehend the ultimately r e a l , (iv) to be f u l l of compassion and love, (v) to possess the i n t r e p i d i t i e s , (vi) to have patience, ( v i i ) to have an indefatigable mind, and ( v i i i ) to use ri g h t words." S i m i l a r l y , the q u a l i t i e s of the student are important and c l e a r l y a r t i c u l a t e d . "The process of receiving teaching depends upon the student giving something i n return; some kind of psychological surrender i s necessary, a g i f t of some s o r t . . . I t i s e s s e n t i a l to surrender, to open yourself, to present what you are to the guru, rather than t r y i n g to present yourself as a worthwhile student" (Trungpa, 1973, 39) . The Tibetan teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1973, 1976), described i n some d e t a i l the stages through which a student can expect to pass i n r e l a t i n g with the teacher. It i s only with some degree of d i f f i c u l t y and pain that the rel a t i o n s h i p f i n a l l y ripens into one of "genuine friendship" which permits the proper transmission of the teachings and the "direct and t o t a l communication which i s the 'meeting of the two minds'", "At f i r s t devotion i s inspire d by a sense of inadequacy.., from a sense of poverty" (Trungpa, 1976, 127), The r e l a t i o n s h i p evolves from surrender, through games, to a state of complete openness, as a r e s u l t of which "you begin to see the guru q u a l i t y i n every l i f e - s i t u a t i o n , that a l l situations i n l i f e o f f e r you the opportunity to be as open as you are with guru, and so a l l things can become the guru" (Trungpa, 1973, 45). The narrative approach of t h i s study has revealed something of the complexity and richness of t h i s topic. From a c l a s s i c a l Freudian psychodynamic perspective, the various stages of the r e l a t i o n s h i p with the teacher (as with the analyst) would generally be seen i n terms of resistance, p a r t i c u l a r l y as instances of transference, the unconscious reenactment of forgotten childhood memories and repressed unconscious fantasies, and i t s subsequent working through and resolution. In the psychodynamic view, "resistance i s a general term that refers to a l l of the forces i n the patient that oppose the p a i n f u l work of therapy... t h i s l a s t resistance i s often seen i n an e r o t i c or h a t e - f i l l e d transference" (Ursano, et a l , 1991, 31-32). From this perspective, the cure of the patient i s said to be complete when the patient's neurotic attachment to the analyst i s resolved. Ken McLeod, i n reviewing the general story, commented that "psychological projection" was involved i n perhaps 95 out of 100 cases of students who maintained an insistence on only one unique teacher as "t h e i r guru". Speculatively, i t may be that what Trungpa referred to as "games" i n the teacher-student r e l a t i o n s h i p p a r a l l e l s the transference phenomena i n the psychoanalytic approach. ("We begin to play a game, a game of wanting to open, wanting to be involved i n a love a f f a i r with our guru, and then wanting to run away from him. If we get too close to our s p i r i t u a l friend, then we begin to f e e l overpowered by him" (Trungpa, 1973, 43). The f i v e s t o r i e s can be read with an eye to the student-teacher r e l a t i o n s h i p . Dylan i s quite e x p l i c i t about his understanding of his "transference" to Namgyal Rinpoche and i t s r ole i n impelling him to understand his r e l a t i o n s h i p with his own father and reconnect with him. Western psychotherapy has assisted him i n t h i s process. Augusta, a f t e r being captivated by Kalu Rinpoche's "gentleness" subsequently become absorbed with the task of working through the sense of doing something very s p e c i a l , having to "be very good". Her quest to be "ordinary" and subsequent development of personal humility and openness seems to indicate a sort of working through of childhood fantasy. Sid i s quite e x p l i c i t about many types of v a r i e t i e s of resentment and resistance which he encountered during his pr a c t i c e . In the psychodynamic t r a d i t i o n , resistances are resolved through inter p r e t a t i o n , "so that the patient can re-experience consciously the old forbidden impulses and memories, and the fears, disappointments, and p a i n f u l a f f e c t s associated with them" (Ursano, et a l , 1991, 36). In the meditation process studied here, rather than int e r p r e t a t i o n , the teacher r e l i e s on the strength of his own example as a motivator and continues to d i r e c t the meditator to r e f l e c t on the goal of the process -enlightenment f o r the sake of a l l beings. In that context, hi s i n s t r u c t i o n s are almost i n v a r i a b l y simply to continue meditating, or sometimes to decrease the i n t e n s i t y of one's p r a c t i c e . The practice i t s e l f i s regarded as s u f f i c i e n t to impel one towards the ultimate goal. The e f f o r t and d i l i g e n c e exerted i n following the teacher's injunction to p r a c t i c e combines with other factors (see below) to resolve personal issues underlying the meditator's d i f f i c u l t i e s . For example, through his persistence, Sid reached a point where he "wasn't worried about becoming enlightened or a t t a i n i n g anything. The s h i t got kicked out of that and more and more i t was just t r y i n g to be an ordinary human being...So (he) was f e e l i n g much stronger and happier with (him)self." A primary difference between the teacher i n t h i s meditative t r a d i t i o n and therapist i n the psychotherapeutic i s the end rela t i o n s h i p . In the psychoanalytic world, the patient has experienced substantial r e l i e f from the s u f f e r i n g r e s u l t i n g from unconscious c o n f l i c t s . For the Buddhist p r a c t i t i o n e r , one's motivation f o r meditation has i d e a l l y undergone a profound s h i f t and while he or she may have experienced a release from personal suffering, t h i s becomes only the f i r s t phase i n one's career of a l l e v i a t i n g the s u f f e r i n g of a l l beings. In the psychodynamic t r a d i t i o n , the patient i s gra t e f u l to the doctor for e f f e c t i n g the cure but has i d e a l l y developed the capacity for s e l f - i n q u i r y i n i t i a l l y c a r r i e d by the therapist. This includes the a b i l i t y to understand and analyze any remanifestation of transference enabling the former patient to regard him/her as a psychological equal with whom further r e l a t i o n s h i p i s not currently needed. By contrast, i n the meditative t r a d i t i o n , the teacher i s continually respected and served, shown devoted i n t e r e s t and reverence, and pleased through "establishing the v a l i d i t y of his i n s t r u c t i o n and acquir(ing) a primary understanding of i t " (Guenther, 1971, 35). Ideally, the teacher i s regarded as the Buddha himself, as i s indicated i n t h i s verse from a Kagyupa prayer. Intensifying Devotion In One's Heart; Crying to the Guru's From Afar (McLeod, undated), "Essence of the buddhas of the three times,/Source of the holy dharma of scripture and experience,/Master of the sangha, the noble assembly,/Root guru, think of me." Even a f t e r the student has attained a high degree of r e a l i z a t i o n , he maintains t h i s i n t e n s i t y of devotion f o r the teacher (see e.g., Chang, 1962; Nalanda, 1980) . The transference, i f one can use that terminology at a l l i n t h i s context, i s not resolved through i n t e r p r e t a t i o n but i s rather redirected toward the guru as symbolic of one's own r e a l i z a t i o n . Brownstein (1991) draws upon Kohut's self-psychology to understand these differences. He suggests that the guru within the s p i r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n , as a r e a l i z e d being, i s optimally able to provide both an i d e a l i z i n g and mirroring function f o r the disciple-student. He contrasts the therapeutic s i t u a t i o n i n which the c l i e n t / p a t i e n t i s slowly and gently d i s - i l l u s i o n e d from the i l l u s o r y i d e a l of the therapist and thereby becomes accepting, f l e x i b l e and r e a l i s t i c with the s p i r i t u a l . In the l a t t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p , "the Guru sees the essence, or the inner being, of the d i s c i p l e as pure and always r e f l e c t s t h i s p u r i t y back to the d i s c i p l e , reminding him again and again that t h i s i s his true nature" (4). While the therapist mirrors the ego or personality structure of the patient, the Guru mirrors the Self, the underlying r e a l i t y behind a l l forms. The r e l a t i o n s h i p with the Guru connects or reawakens the d i s c i p l e ' s insight into his oneness with t h i s fundamental r e a l i t y which i n turn overcomes the s u f f e r i n g inherent i n one's a l i e n a t i o n from the source of being (or, i n Buddhist terms, the fundamental ignorance (avidya = not knowing) which posits an independently e x i s t i n g s e l f ) . Hamish's description of his experience with Kalu Rinpoche i s i l l u s t r a t i v e : "groundless i n the sense of free of a l l constrictions and preconceptions. It was l i k e being f u l l y i n the moment and at the same time i t was infused with kindness, a r e a l l y strong sense of warmth." The maintenance of a r e l a t i o n s h i p with the teacher i s thus a prerequisite for the psychospiritual development described i n t h i s study. However, i t i s not s u f f i c i e n t unto i t s e l f but provides an impetus and context i n which the two other tasks - technical mastery and cognitive restructuring - are achieved. Technical mastery Just as psychotherapists of whatever persuasion r e l y upon the a b i l i t y of the c l i e n t / p a t i e n t to master a certain set of s k i l l s (e.g., free association, focusing, attentional awareness) without which therapy i s f r u i t l e s s or even contraindicated, so too does the meditator need to master a cer t a i n set of s k i l l s . These s k i l l s , which have been systematically described i n centuries of meditation l i t e r a t u r e , are p r i m a r i l y s k i l l s of attention and analysis. Mastery of these s k i l l s i s what permits and gives r i s e to the range of transformative phenomena described by the meditators, While the phenomenological nature of t h i s study provides access to experience, i t precludes proof of such hypothetical constructs as hemispheric l a t e r a l i z a t i o n (Pegano & Frumkin, 1977) or p h y s i o l o g i c a l factors l i k e reduced metabolism and arousal (Delmonte, 1979, 1985) or b r a i n wave resonance and coherence (Haymes, 1977). However, the CO-researchers described a range of related experiences. These include the narrowly phy s i o l o g i c a l e f f e c t s and benefits and the r e l a t e d e f f e c t s of stress-reduction which have cognitive and a f f e c t i v e as well as p h y s i o l o g i c a l aspects. Participants refer v a r i o u s l y to a relaxation response, a calming or " s t i l l i n g " e f f e c t , and a slowing of bodily processes. On the other hand, parti c i p a n t s also experienced increased energy and heightened c l a r i t y r e s u l t i n g i n less need for sleep. Among longer term e f f e c t s , the pa r t i c i p a n t s mentioned a renewed sense of meaning: a sense that one was no longer wasting one's l i f e . Some reported that the maintenance of practice countered feelings of ennui, depression and paranoia which would otherwise a r i s e i n day to day experience. Development of authe n t i c i t y and a reduction of feelings of phoniness, shame, unworthiness, were common to the p a r t i c i p a n t s at various stages of t h e i r journey. These experiences are r e f l e c t i v e of psychological health and well-being as described by such e x i s t e n t i a l l y oriented psychologists as Rogers (1961), Maslow (1954), and Yalom (19 80), and Fromm (1976). Also common to the accounts were reports of enhanced a b i l i t y to r e l a t e d i r e c t l y with others, minimizing experiences of defensiveness. Quarrels or disagreements with others assumed les s importance. Some interpreted t h e i r own behaviour i n t h i s regard as being less involved with p r o j e c t i o n . Whatever the interpretation, the phenomenon was experienced i n terms of "spaciousness" and "openness". The use of these and re l a t e d terms appears with great conformity and consistency throughout the accounts. One way of accounting f o r t h i s phenomena i s suggested by the communication axioms of Watzlawick, et a l (1967). As well as h i g h l i g h t i n g the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of not communicating, the authors draw attention to the simultaneous d i g i t a l and analogue elements of communication, the former being embodied i n language and the l a t t e r i n bodily, non-verbal presence to another. Problematic communication r e s u l t s i n part from the misperception or misreading of eith e r or both the d i g i t a l or analogic component of a message. Meditation, through i t s attentional strategies, tends to r e l a t i v i z e not only the d i g i t a l element of communication which manifests as s e l f - t a l k but also the non-verbal analogic aspects of body, including f e e l i n g and proprioception. This r e l a t i v i z a t i o n i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y expressed as impermanence and i s further conceptualized and elaborated as selflessness and emptiness. As these aspects of one's experience are brought into awareness during and a f t e r meditation, i t becomes more u n l i k e l y that communication with others becomes locked into the f i x e d and pathological patterns, e.g. "schismogenesis" (Bateson, 1958). There i s a corresponding l i k e l i h o o d of greater f l e x i b i l i t y and openness of coitununication as i s made e x p l i c i t i n several of the s t o r i e s , notably that of Hamish and Augusta. A naive statement of t h i s idea may be found i n Augusta's comment, " i f you can just relax and be gentle with yourself, then you're not going to want to go around being harsh on others because you're not being harsh on yourself." What i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the mastery of meditation techniques and these short and long term effects? The divergent views of transpersonal theory i n the debate between Washburn (1988, 1990) and Wilber (1980) were b r i e f l y examined i n the l i t e r a t u r e review. The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the narratives presented here i s more supportive of the p o s i t i o n of Washburn. The co-researchers frequently allude to a resurgence of emotions and imagery from e a r l i e r periods of l i f e which i s congruent with Washburn's contention that transcendence involves reversal and regression before ascent. At the very l e a s t the p a r t i c i p a n t s do not themselves conceptualize t h e i r development from a stage perspective as found i n Wilbur's typology. While not exactly refuting Wilber's developmental perspective, the general account presented here, with i t s focus on the body as the locus for transformation, seems to be more f a i t h f u l to the co-researchers' l i v e d experience. When the par t i c i p a n t s describe the impact and res u l t s of meditation, t h e i r language frequently refers to bodily sensations and processes: f o r example, the e f f e c t s "reverberate through my core" (Dylan); "an act of pleasure: s i t t i n g on my cushion", "aware of structures i n my body...a l o t of emotions stuck i n my throat" (Augusta); " l i k e getting h i t with a sledge hammer", " l i k e drinking from the well" (Sid); and, "came apart l i k e a hand-grenade" (Jane). These metaphors suggest that the ground of the transformation that i s experienced i n meditation i s the body. The s p e c i f i c meditation practices which compose the ov e r a l l path of the par t i c i p a n t s give r i s e to experiences which both c l a r i f y and go beyond o ld patterns of f e e l i n g and perception. This i s apparent, for example, i n Sid's statement, "I can see that and accept i t and say that's part of me...you become more and more i n touch with what you are." The frequent reference to an enhanced sense of spaciousness i s s i m i l a r l y related to physical awareness. The language of the Buddhist meditative t r a d i t i o n refers to impermanence, emptiness (not i n the sense of a vacuum, but rather as the absence of any l i m i t i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c ) and egolessness. These factors are experienced with and as the body, v i a the r i t u a l i z e d action of meditation. They are transpersonal, rather than prepersonal, because the states are " i n awareness" and are in t e n t i o n a l , and while they are "beyond" the personal they provide d i r e c t i o n , guidance and motive force for the personal s e l f . The concepts of change advanced by E.T. Gendlin (1962, 1986) seem accurate analogues f o r t h i s set of processes. Conversely, aspects of the meditation described by the co-researchers seem to open additional and complementary pathways to Gendlin's technique of "focusing" (19 81). S i m i l a r l y , the writings of the b i o e n e r g e t i c i s t s and bodyworkers, p a r t i c u l a r l y Lowen (1975) and Keleman (1979, 1981) provide alternate ways of understanding some of the meditation phenomena. Keleman's (1979) desc r i p t i o n of the "Middle Ground" i s p a r t i c u l a r l y evocative of the experience of intensive meditation: "the middle ground i s l i k e an ocean welling up with images, sensations, feelings and needs, each taking i t s turn on the stage, asking, clamoring f o r attention, t r y i n g i t s e l f out i n the f i e l d of consciousness so we can then use i t i n the s o c i a l world" (77). In the general story, the practice of meditation i s located within a context of community and altruism. S i m i l a r l y , f o r Keleman, " i t i s e s s e n t i a l to reorganize our connections to our community as we reorganize ourselves somatically... the private world of middle ground generates the capacity for cooperation and community" (1979, 99). For Frankl (1984), "the true meaning of l i f e i s to be discovered i n the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though i t were a closed system" (133) . Augusta expresses t h i s d i r e c t l y , speaking about how meditation has enhanced her a b i l i t y to relate with others, "to be able to connect with someone, r e a l l y and t r u l y with them and not be offended or a f r a i d and a l l the things that separate you, that make us f e e l we can't be there with that person, to me that's meaningful." In terms of actual technical mastery of the meditative process, the meditator must be able f i r s t l y to achieve "calm abiding" (or a relaxed but focused engagement) with the object of meditation, be i t a thought, an object, a v i s u a l image, breath, or a mantra. The achievement of such s t a b i l i z a t i o n depends on the a b i l i t y to overcome a set of f i v e obstacles (laziness, forgetfulness, numbness of mind, restlessness, and excessive forcefulness) which are to be overcome through the a p p l i c a t i o n of the antidotes of exertion, aspiration, presence of mind, and equanimity (Tarthang Tulku, 1973). T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the content of any thoughts which impede the achievement of a calm abiding with the object of meditation i s unimportant. Interestingly, for several of the co-researchers, the s p e c i f i c content a r i s i n g to awareness during meditation was f e l t to be s i g n i f i c a n t . During the three year retreat, Sid found that a s p e c i f i c focus upon the images a r i s i n g during meditation (an example of a g i t a t i o n or restlessness i n the tradition) was psychologically healing f o r him. Augusta, on the other hand, was overcome at one point by negative and v i o l e n t imagery which she was unable to d i s p e l . While she now suspects that access to a more s k i l l e d teacher could have f a c i l i t a t e d both increased self-understanding and technical mastery, her experience (and those of the other CO-researchers) supports the findings of Brown and Engler (1980) i n the comparison of Western with Asian meditators. Westerners generally took longer to achieve profound meditative absorption, at least i n part due to f a s c i n a t i o n with the content of t h e i r thoughts. This issue of the i r r u p t i o n of unconscious material into awareness i s the crux of much of the current l i t e r a t u r e i n the f i e l d of transpersonal psychology (e.g., Engler, 1984; Epstein, 1990). In t h e i r attempt to explain a wide range of "complications of meditation practice", Epstein and L i e f f (1981) suggest that meditation may follow a developmental process which includes both regression and progressive tendencies. Sid's re-experiencing of family c o n f l i c t s and Augusta's recurring imagery of violence are supportive of a view of meditation as an opportunity to "reexperience and reexamine unresolved c o n f l i c t s and drives embodied i n material which unfolds through the pra c t i c e of meditation" (Epstein and L i e f f , 1981). According to Russell's topology, personal development may occur through e i t h e r "bringing more unconscious material into consciousness" as i n psychotherapy, or i n "experiencing increasingly higher states of consciousness" (Russell, 1986, 68). The experience of the co-researchers indicates that meditation may be useful i n the f a c i l i t a t i o n of both of these tasks. Not only do the meditators report imagery of a primitive and problematic nature, but also experience imagery comprised of such transformative symbols as the yidams (e.g., Chenrezig, Tara, Vajrasattva, the lamas) and the Four Immeasurables (love, joy, compassion, equanimity), charged as they are with the capacity to generate meaning. It i s i n t e r e s t i n g that each of the f i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s have been i n therapy and/or counselling. The co-researchers each a f f i r m the complementarity of therapy and meditation and t h e i r s t o r i e s may be read with an eye to the dual openings to the unconscious on one hand and the " s p i r i t " on the other. This phenomenon has i n t e r e s t i n g implications for further development of a combination of meditative and psychotherapy, as suggested by Katz and Rolde (1981). The CO-researchers i n t h i s study seem to have resorted to counselling or psychotherapy f o r two reasons: to resolve immediate c r i s e s , often of an interpersonal nature; and to examine and/or transform r e s t r i c t i v e or pa i n f u l personal patterns (narratives). In both cases, they are concerned with elements of t h e i r uniquely personal, i d i o s y n c r a t i c l i f e s t o r i e s . They express a common f e e l i n g that Western therapies are more understanding of the p a r t i c u l a r problems of l i v i n g which they face. Meditation, and the t r a d i t i o n which i s the context for i t s practice, on the other hand, i s concerned with the compelling general and invariant elements of the human condition which are addressed by the existential-humanistic t r a d i t i o n generally (cf., Frankl, 1984; Fromm, 1976; May, 1983): su f f e r i n g , purpose and meaning. Meditation seems to answer questions and concerns that counselling and therapy do not. The par t i c i p a n t s concur that one without the other would be i n s u f f i c i e n t . Cognitive restructuring Closely r e l a t e d to elements discussed under the heading of technical mastery, t h i s topic i s central to the changes experienced by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two topics i s c l e a r l y suggested within the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n i t s e l f which organizes one's development into the three tasks of hearing, contemplating and meditating. Thus, following an i n i t i a l presentation of a concept, there i s a progressive deepening of understanding culminating i n an incorporation and embodying of the object so that i t i s t r u l y part of oneself. As Guenther (1975) puts i t , "teachers and friends can do l i t t l e more than rouse us by t h e i r example from our p a s s i v i t y and lethargy (90)". Following t h i s i n i t i a l awakening, the student must exert himself i n the process of transformation which i s sustained and guided by s p e c i f i c ideas that r e s u l t i n a new perception of the world. The approach to change a r t i c u l a t e d by cognitive psychologists such as Beck (1980) and Mahoney (1980, 1985), and by c o n s t r u c t i v i s t s such as White (White and Epston, 1990) and Watzlawick (Watzlawick, et a l , 1967) provide an analogous understanding. Indeed, the Buddhist meditational path has much i n common with the c o g n i t i v i s t perspective. Cognitive therapies are generally based on the assumption that l i f e problems r e s u l t from f a u l t y ideas. "A basic premise of the cognitive behavioural modification approach i s that one cannot change behaviour without having i n d i v i d u a l s increase t h e i r awareness, r a i s e t h e i r consciousness, or notice a behavioural pattern (how they think, f e e l , and behave and the impact they have on others. There i s a need to have c l i e n t s interrupt the automaticity of t h e i r acts or the s c r i p t e d nature of t h e i r behaviour" (Meichenbaum, 1986, 348) . Such heightened awareness i s the pre-requisite f o r change. Bedrosian and Beck (1980) summarize the approach of cognitive therapy s u c c i n c t l y as, "a set of treatment techniques that aim to r e l i e v e symptoms of psychological d i s t r e s s through the d i r e c t modification of the dysfunctional ideation that accompanies them" (128). As Meichenbaum (1986, 3 74) suggests, "the treatment approach can intervene at various points, namely, at the point of cognitive structures ( b e l i e f s , meaning systems), cognitive processes (automatic thoughts and images, problem solving s k i l l s ) , behavioural acts, and environmental consequences. The CBM approach can also intervene by i n f l u e n c i n g the content of the c l i e n t ' s thoughts and the c l i e n t ' s s t y l e of thinking." S i m i l a r l y , the techniques of meditation give r i s e to a heightened awareness of current cognitive functioning (with attention t r a d i t i o n a l l y directed to body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects (Trungpa, 1976)) within a context of an al t e r n a t i v e world view provided by the teacher and fellow p r a c t i t i o n e r s . Representative of t h i s s h i f t i s Sid's statement, "thoughts and emotions are s t i l l there, there's something being touched on much more fundamental and deeper in s i d e . " Through meditation, Augusta discovered that the q u a l i t i e s she a c t i v e l y sought outside herself (humour, wit warmth) were a c t u a l l y q u a l i t i e s that she herself possessed. The Buddhist view contends that a l l s u f f e r i n g arises and i s maintained through ignorance or f a l s e views regarding the true nature of r e a l i t y . Buddhist meditation i s , i n ef f e c t , the treatment which progressively modifies these f a l s e views. While the ultimate wrong view i s the b e l i e f i n an inherently e x i s t i n g s e l f , there are other f a l s e views which are systemically confronted and overcome along the méditâtional path. Among the i n i t i a l meditations undertaken by the co-researchers are those known as "the four thoughts that turn the mind". These are "the precious human b i r t h " , "the law of cause and e f f e c t " , "the pervasiveness of suf f e r i n g " , and "the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of impermanence and death". As with other topics, these contemplations are f i r s t heard, thought about, and then f i n a l l y meditated upon, where meditation i s "a f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n of the mind with an object of meditation" (Dalai Lama, 1984, 183). Repeated meditation upon such thoughts, f o r example, the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of death (cf., Becker, 1970) seems to re s u l t i n a profound re-or i e n t a t i o n to experience. Hamish, f o r example, noted the profound e f f e c t of t h i s concept on his approach to his career. Other objects of meditation discussed at various points by the CO-researchers include the devotion to the lineage and humble kinship with a l l beings embodied i n Prostrations; one's inherent p u r i t y as embodied i n the Vajrasattva and other yidam practices; one's inherent richness and capacity for generosity as embodied i n mandala o f f e r i n g ; and the blessing from and connection with one's teacher i n Guru Yoga pr a c t i c e ; compassion as embodied i n Chenrezig and tong-len pr a c t i c e ; and, as both co-extensive with these as well a topic i n i t s own ri g h t , the inherent selflessness of a l l phenomena, the f u l f i l l m e n t of which i s l i b e r a t i o n . Mahoney (1980) and Guidano and L i o t t i (1985), among others, seek to understand such "personal revolutions" and "deep change processes" i n the context of cognitivism. Guidano and L i o t t i , f or example, conceptualize "deep change processes" as r e s u l t i n g from "the reconstruction of sets of deeper rules emerging from t a c i t self-knowledge...(leading to)...a restructuring of the attitude toward r e a l i t y through which the world can be seen and dealt with i n a d i f f e r e n t manner" (122). They suggest that such s h i f t s are accompanied by intense emotions. Jane's sense of being "blockbustered...Ramboed" i s i n d i c a t i v e of t h i s . The a b i l i t y of the meditator to experience the more profound insights of the Buddhist t r a d i t i o n i s dependent upon t h e i r technical mastery of the meditative process. The culmination of these insights i s the progressive r e a l i z a t i o n of the "view r e a l i z i n g emptiness" which i s "the common cause of the enlightenment of a l l three vehicles" (Dalai Lama, 19 84, 154). An analogous understanding i s provided i n Watzlawick's (1967) notion of psychotherapeutic change : But to change one's third-order premises, to become aware of the patterning of sequences of one's own behaviour and of that of the environment, i s only possible from the vantage point of the next higher, the fourth l e v e l . Only from t h i s l e v e l can i t be seen that r e a l i t y i s not something objective, unalterable, "out there", with a benign or s i n i s t e r meaning for our s u r v i v a l , but that for a l l intents and purposes our subjective experience of existence i s r e a l i t y - r e a l i t y i s our patterning of something that most probably i s t o t a l l y beyond objective human v e r i f i c a t i o n . (267) A l l of the various types of meditation and the creation of the context i n which they are practised can be understood from t h i s perspective: the revelation of the paradox that l i f e ' s meaning arises from i t s inherent lack of meaning and i t s simultaneous resolution v i a a compassionate commitment to a l l beings who s u f f e r as a r e s u l t of the non-realization of t h i s truth. Life-path research In terms of t h i s study, meditation seems to f a c i l i t a t e mental health and well-being to the extent that i t f a c i l i t a t e s the development of a coherent narrative or l i f e -story (White and Epston, 1990) which provides one with meaning and purpose. As Watzlawick (1967) notes, "the loss or absence of a meaning i n l i f e i s perhaps the most common denominator of a l l forms of emotional distress...pain, disease, loss, f a i l u r e , despair, disappointment, the fear of death, or merely boredom - a l l lead to the f e e l i n g that l i f e i s meaningless" (2 66). As one pursues the practice of meditation and elements of c o n f l i c t a r i s e , the experience of meaningfulness and subsequent well being i s threatened. The l a t t e r occurs, for example, as "negative" a f f e c t and imagery arises during the practice of meditation; or as confusion about new sets of roles and meanings a r i s e . However, the negotiation of these imbalances gives r i s e to subsequent experiences of openness and meaning. Indeed, the central therapeutic factor within the meditation practice may be the simultaneously avowed and experienced goal of awareness of impermanence, suffering, and emptiness. The awareness of these three i n t e r - r e l a t e d factors i n turn gives r i s e to compassion for both oneself and others. The f i v e studies presented above can be understood as narratives representative i n varying degrees of the progressive r e a l i z a t i o n of the paradoxical meaningfulness of l i f e . The paradox l i e s i n the fact that, as Watzlawick (1967) elegantly suggests, "the solution, then, i s not the finding of an answer to the r i d d l e of existence, but the r e a l i z a t i o n there i s no r i d d l e " (271). P r a c t i c a l implications There are three areas of p a r t i c u l a r p r a c t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r counsellors and therapists. It has implications for the use of meditation as a complement to conventional forms of psychotherapy; f o r doing therapy with indiv i d u a l s who are involved i n any s p i r i t u a l path, whether or not i t involves a meditative or contemplative component; and f i n a l l y , i t may have relevance for the personal and professional growth of the counsellor. I s h a l l address each of these i n turn. 1. As an adjunct to therapy As we have seen, the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study have a l l been involved i n counselling and/or therapy as well as a d i s c i p l i n e d long-term meditation pract i c e . They have each c l e a r l y stated the b e l i e f that there i s a b e n e f i c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n between these approaches. Increased awareness of the value and impact of p a r t i c u l a r types of meditation (and upon the contexts i n which they are practiced) on the part of therapists would l i k e l y be of assistance to a great many c l i e n t s . For example, such e x p l i c i t contemplations on s u f f e r i n g , impermanence and death, the four immeasurables, the laws of cause and ef f e c t could a l l r e a d i l y be applied by a counsellor to the needs of a p a r t i c u l a r c l i e n t . The tr a i n i n g of awareness i m p l i c i t i n meditation would be a valuable support to many forms of therapy, not only those which r e l y e x p l i c i t l y upon one's a b i l i t y to attend to immediate experiencing, but also to cognitive and psychodynamic approaches which s i m i l a r l y r e l y on one's a b i l i t y to attend to cognitive and emotional structures. Generally, mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s neither regard themselves as, nor do they present themselves as, s p i r i t u a l teachers. However, not only are there aspects of meditation pr a c t i c e which they can teach to c l i e n t s who are interested and who may benefit, but also, they can and may f u l f i l l a s p i r i t u a l r o l e to the extent that they symbolize to the c l i e n t an optimal degree of wholeness, i n t e g r i t y and caring. The importance of the s p i r i t u a l teacher i n the transformative path of meditation revealed i n t h i s study i s to some extent exemplary for therapists. At the very least, bearing i n mind Bergin's (1990) findings regarding the s p i r i t u a l i t y of c l i e n t s , i t may be appropriate f o r counsellors to r e f e r c l i e n t s to bona fide s p i r i t u a l teachers. For t h i s purpose, as i n any process of r e f e r r a l , the counsellor must have a clear idea about, and f a i t h i n , the teacher involved. At the very l e a s t , there needs to be the sort of understanding of the search which has been addressed above. Ultimately, we might hope for some sort of dialogue or consultation between mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r s and s p i r i t u a l teachers. With these issues i n mind, we can look at several factors which a r i s e from t h i s study which bear upon the use of meditation as an adjunct to counselling/therapy. One of the common elements of meditation p r a c t i c e (in one or more of the forms discussed) revealed i n the narratives i s the experience of heightened awareness of negatively toned states of mind. These can a r i s e i n a f f e c t , imagery and/or thought. (Previous research supports t h i s finding which has been conceptualized i n psychodynamic terms either as a derepression of repressed material or regression to more primary modes of thought.) Meditation(s) of t h i s sort would be c l e a r l y countraindicated i n c e r t a i n c l i e n t s , e.g., those who are i n c r i s i s s i t u a tions, or those who are overcome or flooded with emotion. On the other hand, the therapeutic process with c l i e n t s who are "out of touch" with memories, feelings, images may be a s s i s t e d by such meditation. The research suggests that c e r t a i n meditations and contemp-la t i o n s may be h e l p f u l i n acting as aids or antidotes for p a r t i c u l a r concerns or again, merely r a i s i n g underlying concerns into awareness where they may be dealt with through other inter-ventions. For example, we have seen that the practice of prostrations surfaced issues about humility/ arrogance. Mandala practice (another one of the foundations) raises the issue of generosity/stinginess. The Four Thoughts (which function as highly focused cognitive contemplations) work powerfully to stimulate concerns with e x i s t e n t i a l questions. There are several meditations which work s p e c i f i c a l l y with a s h i f t of awareness away from a preoccupation with one's personal s u f f e r i n g and toward the development of compassion and involvement with others. Clearly, there are many p o s s i b i l i t i e s for exploration which at t h i s point are merely suggestive, including the impact of meditation on the interpersonal or communicative competence of the meditator. F i n a l l y , the participants r e f e r with r e g u l a r i t y to the power of meditation to provide a context or space i n which they could more r e a d i l y process the material a r i s i n g i n t h e i r counselling and therapy. Meditation as s p i r i t u a l practice seemed to provide a context i n which t h e i r personal/ h i s t o r i c a l issues could be r e l a t i v i z e d and/or understood from a broader perspective. The relaxation component of meditation seemed to provide a balance to the psycho-physiological arousal ent a i l e d i n therapeutic exploration and the strong emotional states entailed could be increasingly tolerated. 2. With p r a c t i t i o n e r s The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the process and context(s) of meditation presented here w i l l provide mental health workers with a better understanding of the experience of people involved with meditation as a s p i r i t u a l path. As Bergin's (1990) research has discovered, the general population (of pot e n t i a l c l i e n t s ) tends to be more open-minded regarding s p i r i t u a l r e a l i t i e s and pursuits. This study validates the practice of meditation (and s p i r i t u a l i t y , more generally) by rendering i t more comprehensible to the mental health p r a c t i t i o n e r . In p a r t i c u l a r , i t highlights and provides perspective on the roles of the teacher, technical mastery and cognitive restructuring. Meditation can now be understood i n i t s r o l e as a f a c i l i t a t o r of meaning and as a vehicle f o r movement away from self-absorption with one's own narrative of v i c t i m i z a t i o n to a compassionate concern with others. There are a v a r i e t y of moments within the process which require careful negotiation and may lead to experiences of confusion and c o n f l i c t , including issues of trust and betrayal, collapse and replacement of habitual world views, and i r r u p t i o n of powerful negative imagery. There i s the po t e n t i a l that indi v i d u a l s working within a meditative t r a d i t i o n may have powerful experiences which exceed t h e i r understanding. The phenomenon of s p i r i t u a l emergency (Grof, 1990), which takes many forms, may be triggered by certain meditative p r a c t i c e s . Counsellors need not only to be able to honour the v a l i d i t y and r e a l i t y of these practices but also need to be f a m i l i a r with the various contexts of the path of meditation. There i s an add i t i o n a l range of concerns which may be presented to a counsellor by a meditator. While not e x p l i c i t l y an issue for any of the co-researchers i n t h i s study, problems of sexual abuse by i n d i v i d u a l s i n positions of s p i r i t u a l authority are becoming more widely reported. This type of sexual abuse i s an extreme instance of betrayal and, inasmuch as i t involves the i n d i v i d u a l concerned i n a c r i s i s of f a i t h , i t has great import. The therapist must take into consideration the s p i r i t u a l values of the c l i e n t , care for, and protect these values at the same time as surfacing the fears, g u i l t and rage of the v i c t i m . Without understanding the narrative of the c l i e n t ' s path and the profound importance that meditation can play i n his or her construction of meaning, purpose and value, t h i s w i l l be very d i f f i c u l t to accomplish. I believe the findings of t h i s research w i l l greatly a s s i s t the helper on her/his task. (This i s equally true f o r other types of disappointment and betrayal experienced during the course of the journey.) 3. Counsellor growth There are cl e a r implications for the use of meditation by counsellors as part of t h e i r own process of growth and development. Given the nature of the profession, counsellors can deal with a high degree of personal stress, f r u s t r a t i o n and burnout. The findings support other research which suggests that meditation p r a c t i c e i s a useful stress-reduction technology (e.g., Kabat-Zinn, 1990; Shapiro, 1980). However, t h i s study implies that meditation as a s p i r i t u a l practice may have values surpassing the psychophysiological reduction of stress, whatever mediating factors are involved. The role of motivation, values, and the underlying story of what l i f e i s about are a l l seen as central elements i n the on-going practice of meditation. This study suggests that meditation can lead to a new and deeper understanding of death and impermanence, the establishment of bodily experienced personal boundaries that are at the same time f l e x i b l e , the development of compassion that i s at the same time firm and confident, and an openness to dimensions of being beyond the personal from which l i f e draws meaning and purpose. The s t o r i e s examined here also provide support for the argument (Lesh, 1970; Welwood, 1983) that meditation i s useful i n the development and t r a i n i n g of empathy. These are a l l q u a l i t i e s and capacities that I, for one, would hope for i n a therapist. The p r a c t i c e of meditation seems to enable a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n with of the p r a c t i t i o n e r with that which has been estranged. For example, the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n suggests that meditation can be part of a process through which one's parents, as the embodiment of, or symbol for, a guiding c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n , may be re-embraced. This type of healing may be at least as relevant f o r counsellors as i t i s f o r c l i e n t s . Further research Having developed an argument for the importance of studying meditation p r a c t i c e within i t s n a t u r a l l y occurring contexts, other concerns become apparent. S p e c i f i c areas of thi s research could be deepened through further phenomenological enquiry. For example, the structure, impact, and meaning of s p e c i f i c meditation practices (e.g., the contemplation of death, the contemplation of precious human b i r t h , prostrations) within the t r a d i t i o n could greatly extend the openings that t h i s study has created. Similar research could p r o f i t a b l y be carr i e d out with p r a c t i t i o n e r s of other s p i r i t u a l / r e l i g i o u s systems: not only converts to the wisdom t r a d i t i o n s of Asia, such as other schools of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, but also with those who have kept f a i t h with t h e i r Western t r a d i t i o n s and those exploring such alternate pathways as shamanism, gnosticism, and Kabbalah. The findings of t h i s study are so suggestive of psychotherapeutic benefits of long-term meditational practice that such research would be well advised. As well, we are dealing with the experiences of a small range of ind i v i d u a l s who are roughly i n the same age cohort and a l l began to meditate i n the same decade (between 1970 and 1978). They share a number of other s i g n i f i c a n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s : experiences with drugs i s an important factor i n t h e i r story; none of them l i v e i n t h e i r place of b i r t h ; they have a l l been involved i n psychotherapy. It would be i n s t r u c t i v e to compare t h e i r s t o r i e s with those who began to practice l a t e r or who share d i f f e r e n t p r o f i l e s on one or other of the dimensions c i t e d . While the phenomenological-hermeneutic approach employed here might well be taken into other areas, questions remain that may best be tackled from within the p o s i t i v i s t -experimental paradigm. The findings of t h i s study should provide future researchers working within that t r a d i t i o n a way of c l a r i f y i n g t h e i r questions. In p a r t i c u l a r , as mentioned above, i t i s not possible with the methodology used to ascertain the r e l a t i v e impact of meditation and psychotherapy. Further research to determine the proper and/or possible domains of each as well as the i n t e r a c t i o n between the two i s c l e a r l y c a l l e d f o r . For example, what role might t r a d i t i o n a l meditational d i s c i p l i n e s play i n f a c i l i t a t i n g s p e c i f i c s h i f t s i n ideas, perspectives, world views, cognitive structures and processes? What s p e c i f i c processes are involved i n the apparent increase i n s e l f -esteem seen i n the s t o r i e s presented here? What i s the impact of meditation of various types on locus of control? These and other questions are suggested by t h i s study. 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APPENDIX ONE: DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION CODE NAME AGE BIRTHPLACE RELIGION OF PARENTS OCCUPATION YEARS OF EDUCATION MARITAL STATUS NUMBER AND AGE OF SIBLINGS YEAR OF STARTING MEDITATION AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS/WEEK OF MEDITATION PREVIOUS INVOLVEMENT WITH PSYCHOTHERAPY TYPE DURATION APPENDIX TWO Interview Concerns This project requires an in-depth unstructured interview format i n order to follow the p a r t i c u l a r i t i e s of each informant and to provide adequate d e t a i l and richness. An unstructured interview, while not consisting of a standardized set of questions, nevertheless provided firm structure and focus f o r the exploration of the topic under invest i g a t i o n . In t h i s case, there are cer t a i n questions of a demographic nature which were asked to provide a context f o r understanding the story of each informant. These questions included the following: informant's age, educational background, s i z e and composition of nuclear family, occupation and occupational his t o r y . (See appendix one.) Beyond these p a r t i c u l a r d e t a i l s , the interviews have the q u a l i t y and appearance of a natural conversation, s t r i k i n g perhaps i n i t s enquiring and mutually-reflective tone. The l i t e r a t u r e review and related personal r e f l e c t i o n determined a set of themes and topics to be explored during the course of the interview, yet the progress by which these areas were covered and the emphasis that each informant placed upon them varied. This approach permitted new questions and l i n e s of enquiry to develop na t u r a l l y and spontaneously. The work with each succeeding informant could be a l t e r e d as new p o s s i b i l i t i e s came to l i g h t . The series of v a l i d a t i o n interviews permited a return to themes previously underdeveloped to ensure completeness and f i d e l i t y . With t h i s p a r t i c u l a r project, a chronological approach was followed, with most of the important topics r i s i n g i n context of the narrative produced. These topics or questions included motivation and f i r s t esqperience of meditation, obstacles to practice, teachers and other sources of support and f a c i l i t a t i o n i n the maintenance of p r a c t i c e , c r i t i c a l or p i v o t a l experiences i n the p r a c t i c e of meditation, and r e f l e c t i o n on the personal benefits of p r a c t i c e . 

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