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thresholdI’ve been back from the US for nearly two weeks now. On one level, I got back in to the normal run of things pretty quickly. I was back teaching 24 hours after landing at Heathrow; the majority of jet lag had faded within 2 days; and my client work resumed in a way that seemingly belied by absence for a week. Since returning, my interactions with friends, family, colleagues, clients have had me reflecting upon how we end up communicating our experiences; especially those of a profound nature. Can we ever truly reveal ourselves? Do we want to? Do we need to?

And, it hasn’t been easy to know what to share when asked “So, how was it?”.

On a very practical side, I know that part of the commitment in becoming a student of Vajrayana Buddhism is to keep the teachings and practices secret. In the words of Judy Lief, the teacher who led the retreat I attended back in June:

“The tantric path requires complete engagement and fierce dedication. There is a quality of directness, abruptness, and wholeheartedness to it, and it is said to be the more rapid but more dangerous path. Tantrikas, or vajrayana practitioners, recognize that the most challenging aspects of life—the energies and play of confused emotions and frightening obstacles—can be worked with as gateways to freedom and realization.”

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freud and the monk

It is Friday, a statement of fact (as I write) but also a statement of ‘act’: because Fridays are the day I am now putting aside for writing. I’ve spent 5 hours of my day today in front of my Mac; in front of my Mac and also in front of my window with its view of the South Downs. I recently changed the layout of my study around so that I could benefit from this view, as it inspires me. One of the enjoyable aspects of my day has been writing and pausing to watch the trees as they move in the gusty wind today. I feel more engaged with my environment, and also more held by it. Creating the container for the creativity within.

Today has felt a good day to write. On my book project, I have come to a section I wanted to write on the importance of bringing philosophy in to therapeutic work (and therefore in the training of therapists). I value my own training for doing this: firstly because it has helped a critical engagement and reflection with the theories of therapy and with my experience of being a therapist…and of being ‘a Helen’. Secondly, coming to know a little about philosophy through my training has allowed me to consider how different philosophical systems might interact - in this instance, the humanistic and buddhistic.

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vajrayana virtual reality“Neverland is a fictional island featured in the works of J. M. Barrie and those based on them. It is an imaginary faraway place, where Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and other mythical creatures and beings live. Although not all people who come to Neverland cease to age, its best known resident famously refused to grow up. The term is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood (and childishness), immortality, and escapism” Source: Wikipedia

Not long ago, a couple of weeks ago when I last wrote in fact, I had a sense of coming ‘back to’ normal life and feeling myself returning to routine and taking the time settling back. I should know by now - life doesn’t settle to non-change; as one client of mine often says “there is always something”. I didn’t write a post last week. I could put it down to the fullness of my first week ‘back to’ the routine of it all; and indeed, it WAS a busy week. The two days back at the University teaching were full on, and I felt really tired on Wednesday and Thursday after meeting the new students, and reconnecting with the returning students. I was glad to take Friday easier, I didn’t even have the energy to write on my book project. But the simple ‘busy-ness’ would not be giving the full story. There has been another ‘full-ness’ to my past week - a full-ness of process, trying to digest, assimilate and make a decision; or rather, come to terms with a decision I have made.

I have made the decision to enter the Vajrayana stage of the Buddhist path.