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.