by Joe Loizzo
Joe Loizzo MD, PhD, is the founder and Academic Director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. The following essay has been adapted from the forthcoming 2nd edition of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy to be published by Routledge in January 2023. To learn more about the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program visit our information page.
Contemplative psychotherapy is a hybrid therapeutic approach that blends the meditative insights, ethics and practices of Buddhism with the theory and application of Western neuropsychology, social psychology and psychotherapy. This amalgam may invoke cognitive dissonance for some. “Contemplation” and “contemplative” — terms derived from the Latin contemplatio — have historically been used to describe a discipline of individual and group reflection considered central to introspective learning, especially the meditative and ethical learning practiced by lay and professional people in traditional Western religious communities. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, has evolved as a healing discipline of introspective learning based mainly on a dyadic method of reflection, informed by scientific views of human nature, and practiced in confidential relationships by mental health professionals and their clients in modern clinical settings.
by Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD
Today’s confluence of breakthrough neuropsychological research and diverse methods of mind/body health and well-being has coalesced in a new multi-disciplinary consensus and a historic confluence of distinct therapeutic approaches. Centered around a positive new science of human nature and a radically optimistic framework of plasticity, learning and change, this watershed has prompted a dialogue about mental health and well-being that not only crosses the lines between distinct schools of psychotherapy, but also the lines between Eastern and Western, ancient and modern, scientific and spiritual approaches to mind/body healing. Nowhere is the promise of this watershed more apparent than in the surprising convergence of the latest neuropsychology and embodied approaches to trauma with the timeless embodied contemplative psychology and transformational arts of the Tibetan Buddhist Tantras.
By Nalanda Institute Editors
As the year comes to a close, we’d like to take the time to share with you some highlights of all we’ve accomplished together throughout the year!
Late Winter. We brought in 2019 with a trifecta of inspiring courses and trainings: Yoga, Mind & Spirit Training, Sustainable Happiness Course in Compassion, and Meditation Teacher Training in Compassion.
Spring. In the spring, alongside our Toronto partner X-Hale, we successfully launched our new online Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) Teacher’s Program, with outreach worldwide; and graduated the NYC and San Francisco cohorts of our Contemplative Psychotherapy Program.
By Helen Park
On an unseasonably warm November night, current students and alumni of the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program (CPP) in New York City gathered to receive teachings from Lama Rod Owens. Lama Rod is one of the most exciting and inspiring Dharma teachers of our time, having received teaching authorization by the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism after completing a three-year silent retreat, and drawing upon his own very personal life experiences as a Black, queer man raised in the South. He held space with us for close to three hours, inviting us to be in contemplative presence together that was intimate, playful, ‘triggering in a positive way,’ and deeply restorative.
Lama Rod Owens teaching about skillful ways to work with compassion and anger for the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program in New York City.
by Nalanda Institute Editors
As this year of the Earth Dog comes to an end and we usher in the new year of the Earth Mother Pig, we are happy to look back at just a few of the amazing accomplishments of our community. 2018 has been a pivotal year in which we’ve evolved our teaching methods, deepened our community, and made our programs more widely available.
Extended captions and an elaboration of some of our programs and events in 2018:
by Fiona Brandon
During our recent Mindfulness Year fall retreat, Joe Loizzo emphasized to the cohort that the development of the self is “a creative project,” but one that is not always in our favor. “There is a tendency once we make an interpretation [about ourselves or an experience]…to forget it was an interpretation. [We] just stamp it with the seal of reality because for one moment [the interpretation] was serviceable.” It can be shocking to look under the hood of this habitual pattern and see that we create lifelong fundamental beliefs about ourselves, and the world around us, based on interpretations that may have been true in one moment, but are inaccurate for subsequent moments in our lives!
The year begins with an understanding of the webs we weave. Pictured on retreat are San Francisco students with Dr. Joe Loizzo (second in top row) and Fiona Brandon (second in bottom row).
by Fiona Brandon
When Sharon Salzberg lead San Francisco’s 2017 Spring Mindfulness Year retreat, she playfully challenged the notion that Mindfulness, “Seems to imply a complacency: be in the present moment without reacting. Sounds dull!” The students laughed. I appreciated how Sharon addressed the popular misunderstanding that the goal of mindfulness meditation is to have no thoughts and sit in some kind of fixed non-reactive state. When in reality, the four foundations of mindfulness — the main meditation practices taught during the Mindfulness Year of the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program — are anything but static.
Sharon Salzberg with Mindfulness Year faculty Joe Loizzo, Linda Graham and Fiona Brandon.
by Roshi Joan Halifax
For much of my life I have worked with caregivers in the most challenging of clinical settings—end-of-life care—as well as with activists on the front lines of pressing struggles in social justice and social action. In the course of this work, I have witnessed firsthand the insidious impact of empathic distress in caregivers and activists.