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Before training as an integrative psychotherapist in the late eighties, I was a Buddhist monk for five years. While in a Zen temple in Japan, I had a dream of a ghost and an elephant under a concrete arch, with a golden Buddha in its trunk. I asked many people about the dream, but got little illumination. A Tibetan lama told me my mind was trying to wake me up. It took many years before I discovered a way to talk directly, and tune into, the ghost and the elephant I had seen in my dream, and understand the barriers they posed, their hidden potentials, and what they needed to transform.
It was my experience that healing cannot take place on the level of the personality, and that therapists rarely understand there is a natural knowing right behind the intricacies of the personality. ‘It’ cannot be found in thought or feeling, but only through separating from the masks you took yourself to be. Or as an old translation of the Heart Sutra says, ‘in the absence of thought-pictures he has not been made to tremble.’
I have learnt to go beyong the conventional understanding of mindfulness as bare attention to seeing how ‘IT’ naturally discriminates and recognises what is going on, provided that you put on hold all the old preconceived strategies from the past that usually pre-empt its function. When it is liberated in this way, it naturally illuminates and dissolves whatver has remained undigested.
I could say with Jung, that ‘the journey from cloud cuckoo land to reality lasted a long time. In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.’
After working as an integrative therapist for fourteen years , I discovered IFS and its brilliant approach to healing. IFS (internal family systems therapy) was evolved by Dr Dick Schwarz and is widely regarded as the cutting edge of healing in the USA. You can read more about it at www.selfleadership.org, or click on the video below to see Dick talking about IFS. I have also done extensive training in object relations and pathwork. I work in South East London, and operate a sliding scale. The work I offer can be used for a range of situations, including those often covered by coaching. I have worked with a wide variety of people and conditions,including relationship problems, depression, DID, M.E., psychosomatic conditions like chronic headaches, teenagers in crisis, spiritual crises, sexual difficulties, etc.
I have been a psychotherapist in the integrated section of the UKCP for the last twenty-four years. I have spent many years working to bring together the best of Eastern and Western understandings of the Mind. I wrote my original thesis for qualifying as a psychotherapist on the work of W.R. Fairbairn, and still feel he was ahead of the game in so many ways. (In Fairbairn’s vision, we are all “multiplicitous, not a single self struggling to ward off impulses, but discontinuous, multiple self organizations packaged together with an illusory sense of continuity and coherence…each complete functional units with a belief system, affective organization, agentic intentionality, and developmental history”).
I was a student of A.H. Almaas in California for ten years, which helped me understand the potentials of the ghost and the elephant much better. In particular I learned how the energy of aggression (anger and hatred) can when trusted, felt and owned, become the ‘engine of differentiation’ – to stand on your own feet and separate from who you took yourself to be; it was also invaluable in the light it shed on how to resolve narcissistic issues, and the transformation of self-will, into the natural will of the truth. The ghost in turn, was a frozen template of young perceptions, holding onto the precious experience of love and unity with my mother – which as I have learned to see into the frozen perceptions, unfolds into revealing the love in my own heart…
Almaas writes: “We do not simply need to be seen; we need to be seen with admiration, kindness, appreciation, love, precision, clarity, joy, excitement, and so on. These needs are totally met when we start seeing ourselves with these qualities, reflecting the presence of these essential qualities in the mirroring awareness. The clear medium then appears with the beautiful yellow of Joy, reflecting seeing ourselves happily; or with the soft pink of Love, reflecting seeing ourselves with sweetness and love; or with the emerald green of Loving Kindness, reflecting seeing ourselves with kindness and sensitivity; or with the deep amber of Value, as we see ourselves with appreciation and esteem; or with the brilliant ruby red of Strength, reflecting seeing ourselves with excitement and aliveness; or with the rich apricot color of Fulfillment, reflecting being fulfilled by seeing ourselves; and so on.” ‘The Point of Existence.’
Watching my mother die in hospital, helped me realse just how deeply we (I) are impacted by our mothers, and just how much we (I) project qualiites of our own heart on her – and as we sense this and cry, so our own heart expands and discovers its own qualiites of pleasure and love. I am deeply grateful to Hameed (Almaas’s actual name) for his precision and depth of understanding.
For a long while I felt out on a limb, so it has been a pleasant surprise to see western psychologists taking on mindfulness – even though I think they barely understand its true nature! – since they have asset-stripped one step from the eightfold path without attempting to understand how it was employed by the Buddha, or understand how deep and tenacious the barrier of ‘me’ is.
In the kind of meditation I mostly do – Silent illumination – the work is to simply sit still and allow all your experience to be the way it is, and to clearly know it as it is. If you do this, gradually you wake up as the power of knowing itself – as the Buddha put it on his deathbed – ‘Be a lamp unto yourself.’
We all have this miraculous resource but it is rare anyone stumbles over it – and sees the world in its light.
I see therapy as a process of waking up – recognizing what is going on, facing our experience honestly, and in so doing beginning to be able to call on our natural Self and its capacities…. I also worked for many years as a part time home tutor dealing with very difficult teenagers excluded from school. They were some of my best teachers – they ruthlessly tested me out to see if I was ‘safe’ enough to reveal how they really felt to me. I was stunned that almost all the ‘experts’ they saw didnt listen to them, and imposed their own preconceived ideas/diagnoses after a short time, leaving the kids feeling tainted/labelled and unheard. I ended up taking my employers to court as a whistleblower, which was a steep learning curve in the power ignorance has over the mind – my own as well as those of an obdurate employer.
I usually charge £50 – £60 per hour, according to means, but can be persuaded up or down according to circumstances…. Call me, or email me to find out more….Recently I am working on Skype more and more to places as far afield as Canada, Dubai, LA and Majorca.. (even Australia!).
Perhaps I should also mention I have a B.A. in Social Anthrropology and a M.Sc in Medical Anthropology, which has lead me to muse for many years on just how profoundly at sea, western understandings of the Mind are.
I want to express my gratitude to some of my mentors – Dr Jack Conway, Dr John Pierrakos, the trainers at Chiron, Dr Irmgard Schloegl, Morinaga Roshi, Ajahn Sumedho, Dr John Crook, Master Sheng-Yen, Dr James Low, Jeff Shore, Dr Albert Low and A.H.Almaas – I was extraordinarily fortunate to receive their teaching.
Bruce Stevenson. M.Sc. Dip. Psych (UKCP)