Coming of age

It IS sinking in. This week, I received a author’s pack from Routledge, the publisher of my first book “Weaving the paths of Buddhism and Psychotherapy: the practice of human being”*, and today I have been spending time acquainting myself with the procedures between now, final submission, and ultimately, publication. I sat on my sofa here in the study – paperwork everywhere – in the shadow of my (creaking) bookshelves. Every no and again, I lifted my gaze to take in my “friends” – my book will soon be joining them.

As I do every Friday, I joined my fellow Vajrayana practitioner friends on Zoom this morning. At the start of our practice session we all go through the Buddhist contemplation of the Four Reminders, the first of which brings to mind the preciousness of this human existence. As I sat with this today, I considered how very fortunate I am to have the privileged lifestyle that I do: the material means, livelihood, strong and supportive relationships that allow me to study and practice the Dharma, to teach counselling and psychotherapy and witness the growth of others; and now, to be able to write about the two. I feel incredibly fortunate, and grateful to all who have made that happen. My acknowledgements in the book will be heartfelt (and is one of the tasks on my “to do” list that I am looking forward to bringing together).    

At the foremost of my mind are my family. My parents – who gifted me with the life that I am now using to help others. My Mum recently asked me if she could read my book. My Dad asked me if they would understand it! They have made me who I am today; and they have always supported and encouraged me. Along with my wife and “fluff daughter” cat they are my world. My family of origin is now joined by my created family, including my sangha of fellow practitioners (therapist colleagues as well as Buddhist friends), and also my mentors and teachers. Again, today I have been bringing them to mind as I am asked to gather endorsements for the book ahead of submission – I am fortunate to know many kind and wise people who I know will be pleased to help me….again.

One of my teachers is no longer with us, Jamie Auld. Jamie was among the teaching team when I started out on my therapy training. Seven years ago we then became colleagues and friends. He died just as we were all becoming aware of the pandemic and as I was just starting to put fingers to keyboard for this book. One of our last coffee breaks was discussing the project I was to embark upon – “oh mate, this is the book that needs to be written, and you are the one who needs to write it”. Those words remain lodged in my heart. It is auspicious timing that the book has been granted its passage into the world just as we at the University of Brighton honour him – tomorrow, we have the first Jamie Auld Memorial lecture, guest speaker Emmy Van Deurzen. 

It is to Jamie I will dedicate this book.

To step up alongside my tutors and become a colleague teaching with them was a big growing up process for me. The release of this book marks something of a “coming of age” in my professional life. Colleagues have been telling me I need to overcome my “shy bones”**, and whilst there is probably a bit of work to do there, I am growing in confidence. I shared many of the ideas presented in my book with the MSc psychotherapy students yesterday – and their reception was both mind blowing and heart warming. I don’t think our trainees realise how much they teach me. I am reminded of the presentation of the Shambhala Buddhist teachings (the lineage I first started practicing in): Chogyam Trungpa described the mental conviction and prowess to engage in life with precision and purpose like the Great Eastern Sun. Bringing this vision to mind, we cultivate the willingness to leap into our own inherent brilliance. And importantly, it is a confidence that is grounded in tenderness and compassion – this prevents the inflation into arrogance.

I am excited by the weeks and months ahead, and getting my teeth back into the manuscript. After I finish this post, my first port of call is the coffee machine – fuel for my main afternoon task – the creation of the “to do” list and timeline toward February 2023 (the deadline). I am grateful to have a week’s retreat ahead – practice time, writing time, resting time in my beloved Normandy.

See you on my return!

*I keep writing / saying this title, as if repeating it will make this all seem more real

**I hadn’t heard this expression before now

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