Zentensive Workshop and Retreat -- September 2024

Sunday, September 22 through Friday, September 27
APA accredited for 30 CEs, including 2 for ethics

Description posted further down this page.

Mindfulness and Non-dual Meditation Practices

Just as there are many types of psychotherapy, there are also many kinds of meditation. Some forms of meditation encourage us to remain on more superficial levels, while others draw us into the depths. Some focus more on conscious levels of awareness, while others are more likely to tap into hidden realms of the unconscious. Some, of course, are more secular in nature, and others more spiritually oriented. As with psychotherapy, the effort and risk we’re willing to invest in the process often relates to the significance of what we experience. As Andre Gide wrote, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.” With all these kinds of inner work, the further from the shores we venture, the deeper the waters become. And much also depends on our intent – on why we begin a meditation practice in the first place, and how we hope it will change our lives.

Zentensive Workshop and Retreat -- May 2024

Sunday, May 5th through Friday, May 10th
APA accredited for 30 CEs, including 2 for ethics

Zentensive workshops have grown out of the understanding of non-dual meditative practices that lead to deeper samadhi-like experiences also mobilize increasingly profound levels of the unconscious. By bringing together ISTDP-informed understanding of these realms, along with the rich intrapsychic fluidity that arises out of intensive meditation, these workshops help foster significant depths of personal change, and reinforce essential therapist skills in unique and powerful ways.

Zentensives give us the opportunity to learn about, and to experience for ourselves, the dynamic nature of the unfolding unconscious. Because of the powerful collective energy that arises in the midst of these retreats, people often report having a range of insights, openings, and even significant unlockings. For some, Zentensives also offer the opportunity of entering into what might be called “a broader therapeutic landscape,” and of touching into more “spiritual” dimensions of the therapeutic world. This work is essentially all of one piece, and in the depths, all threads of the same fabric…

Zentensives weave together formal talks, didactic and interactive group sessions, slide presentations, confidential one-on-one meetings, and extended blocks of guided and unguided meditation. What’s clear is that the things that lead to deeper meditative states are the same things that mobilize repressed feelings. The deeper the practice, the greater the mobilization. Mobilized feelings mobilize the defensive structures linked with those feelings — in effect they arise together. Once meditative practice crosses a certain threshold, the resistances that arise against feelings often have the same flavor and structure as those that obscure the meditative practice. 

These structures have depth to them, and are often characterological in nature. As they give way, so does the sense of a separate self. Working in this way, resistances become opportunities, and obstructions become doorways. The more fully the bonds of selfhood weaken, the more profoundly we come to experience the wholeness of existence — and as this unfolds we inevitably discover a greater sense of wonder and gratitude in our lives. 

Zen Practice, Psychotherapy, and the Spiritual Unconscious

Lawson Sachter

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”

– C.G. Jung

Section I: Introduction

Intensive forms of dharma practice stir up the whole of the psyche – and as this unfolding continues, increasing depths of the unconscious become mobilized. It’s a complicated, paradoxical, and mysterious process. Most practitioners are aware that dharma practice can arouse innate healing and compassionate energies. What is generally less clear is that meditation can also mobilize difficult and destructive forces that may have been buried away since the earliest years of one’s life. As these repressed feelings and impulses become activated, so do the defensive systems that encase them. Taken together, repressed feelings and defenses form complex emotional systems that bind energy, and inevitably exert a powerful influence over us.

What has become clear is that many of these unconscious mechanisms that hold back feelings also function in ways that obstruct deepening dharma practice. Since the dynamics that lead to deeper meditative states are exactly the same ones that mobilize the unconscious, it can be helpful, if not essential, to cultivate a greater understanding of these subterranean realms. What’s more, there are uniquely Western aspects to this process, and this is exactly why Dr. Habib Davanloo’s work is so relevant.

Individual Zentensive Consultation Sessions:

In addition to the longer, individual consultations that are already available, I’m going to start offering shorter sessions on meditation practice itself. These would be brief, 10 or 15 minute sessions, primarily for therapists interested in starting up, or maintaining a meditation practice of their own. These sessions would focus on questions relating directly to the sitting practice itself.

Longer consultations, ones that might include personal, meditation-based, or supervisory issues, are also available. These sessions are professional, Zentensive-based explorations designed to complement other forms of training, and may be helpful in addressing various psychospiritual issues arising in a person’s personal and professional life. If you’re interested in exploring this further, feel free to get in touch with me at LawsonSachter@gmail.com.

As with our Zentensive Workshop and Retreats, these longer consultations could be considered professional trainings, and as such, deductible business expenses. Please note, only your accountant can advise you as to whether such deductions would actually apply to your specific work situation.