Monday, April 13, 2009

NEW SG ARTICLE: IS ZAZEN SAFE FOR TRAUMA SURVIVORS

My newest article for Suicide Girls is up now!

And don't forget,tonight April 13, 2009 (Mon) at 7 pm I'll be talking & signing books at Davis-Kidd bookstore 2121 Green Hills Village Dr., Nashville, TN 37215. See you there!

34 comments:

Harry said...

ONE!!!! YEEHAAAARRRRRR!!!

Anonymous said...

traumasoma

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Good article. Meditation can be very pleasant, even blissful. But there is another side to the coin as well.

Victoria Zen Centre said...

Great post on SG. Thanks for posting it.

Rick said...

I've been recently laid off. I think zazen helps my dealign with it.

Anonymous said...

truly wonderful SG article
Thank You!

Mysterion said...

Zazen can open the basement door to the subconscious mind and allow one to visit baggage that should not always be stored there to begin with. But it is only baggage that, when opened and examined, often becomes no more than worn (laundry) material that can be cleaned up and made useful for another day. For years, I have written just two words on the board before class begins - self control.

Mysterion said...

p.s. well thought out post of SG.

thanks again,
Cha-ryu

Really? said...

Zazen makes my penis larger, my IQ rise exponentially and has transformed me into a chick magnet. Oh yeah, also it eliminated my ego and made me incredibly humble.

Mike H said...

Mysterion:

Oh if only it was that simple.

News article - Tibetan Monks with PTSD

Some basement doors are best kept shut. Sometimes the best professional advice you can get is "shut the door and don't go there". For others it's a case of proceed with caution.

For now, on this blog I will just reinforce what brad said on his SG article. Trauma survivors may well need to treat Zazen with respect over the long term and be aware that Zazen will eventually (months, years) lead to undealt with material surfacing in a way that may then allow it to be dealt with.

For trauma survivors zazen may end up be unpleasant more often than not because dealing with unpleasant stuff is never going to be fun.

This is one time Mysterion where your platitudes are just dangerously naive.

The guy who naively helped me to open my basement door was traumatised by what he helped me to unleash.

Brad's article was sensible and proportionate. I think mixing Zazen and trauma can be classed as specialist.

Mysterion said...

Mike H sed:
"This is one time Mysterion where your platitudes are just dangerously naive."

My comments were of a non-medical nature for a general (e.g. vanilla) reader. Anyone with authentic PTSD should first get real medical advice from either a licensed clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.

In the 'normal' (whatever that is) course of action, meditation would not be suggested during the first six weeks to six months of psychological counseling by the typical practitioner. Stabilization is followed by treatment and stabilization, for some, could take several lifetimes.

The problem here is that few (among the universe of) Buddhists have much training in psychology and few (among the universe of) psychologists have much training in Zazen. The common population is quite small.

If "List 1" were assumed to be Buddhists and "List 2" were assumed to be licensed clinical psychologists AND psychiatrists, then this is what I would be indicating.

Unfortunately, we have in the USA groups of religious folks (of any number of faiths) involved in counseling quackery. I would also add we have groups of psychology folks involved in religious quackery. Door swings both ways.

Mileage may vary, batteries not included.

Jinzang said...

Some people who ask for meditation instruction come because they are looking for relief from psychological problems. I think that meditation can be helpful for these problem, the issue is whether the person can or will keep a regular meditation practice. One must make the distinction between hygiene and therapy. Meditation is hygiene and not therapy and should not be substituted for therapy. In my experience homeopathy can be effective therapy for many psychological problems. The is currently a study underway to evaluate its effectiveness in treating PTSD.

PHOTOTHÈQUE HOMÉOPATHIQUE said...

Blogger Jinzang said...
"In my experience..."

homeopathy and habitual constipation...

A fun read is: "HISTORY OF HOMOEOPATHY AND ITS INSTITUTIONS IN AMERICA: Their Founders, Benefactors, Faculties, Officers, Hospitals, Alumni, Etc., with a Record of Achievement of Its Representatives in the "World of Medicine."VOLUME I
EDITED BY
WILLIAM HARVEY KING, M. D., LL. D.
Dean of the Faculty New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital
THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
Copyright, 1905
BY LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
New York :: Chicago

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Thanks Mike, for the Tibetan story.

I would say: Do what thou wilt, and sit zazen. If you're into homeopathy, be a flaming homeo -- and sit. If therapy helps you, never miss an appointment -- and sit. We shouldn't ignore 2,500 years of progress in the efficacy of our "tools", but zazen in the morning and evening is helpful for almost everyone.

I have tasted the koolade, and it is gooood.

Rob

Uku said...

Great new article, thanks, Brad!

Really? said...

SIXTEEN!!!! YEEHAAAARRRRRR!!!

Anger Rising said...

Blogger Smoggyrob said...
I would say: Do what thou wilt, and sit zazen.

line-by-line (click on line numbers) between "LIBER CALL ME AL vel, vel, now. sub figura skating" and "The Book of the Law - a.k.a. Liber AL vel Legis - sub figura CCXX"

Aleister Crowley's celebrated spiritual text Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of the Law was written after Aleister Crowley channeled the manuscripts text from a disembodied spirit named Aiwass while in a deep trance induced state. "This book was dictated in Cairo between noon and 1 p.m. on three successive days, April 8th, 9th and 10th in the year 1904."

Liber AL vel Legis has become the seminal text of western occult literature and has continued to inspire and engage occult enthusiasts a century after its original publication.

It sorta terminates in the Comment with the words: "There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt."

"Jimmy on Aleister Crowley, "My house used to belong to Aleister Crowley. I knew that when I moved in. Magick's very important if people can go through it. I think Crowley's completely relevant today. We're still searching for the truth. The search goes on. Crowley didn't have a very high opinion of women and I don't think he was wrong. Playing music is a very high sexual act. It's an emotional release and the sexual drive comes in along with all the other impulses. But once you start earning money people start assuming things about you and your whole life is changed. If I wasn't into rock I would be somewhere living in a commune in Wales."

Anonymous said...

Famed adult film star Marilyn Chambers was found dead in her home in the Canyon Country area, authorities said Monday, and an autopsy was pending to determine how she died.

The 56-year-old Chambers, whose real name was Marilyn Ann Taylor, was found dead around 9 p.m. Sunday in the 16000 block of Vasquez Canyon Road, said Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the coroner's office.

"She probably died of natural causes," Winter said.

Winter said an autopsy would be done Tuesday or Wednesday.

Chambers broke into the porn industry by appearing in the 1972 film "Behind the Green Door," which was the first widely released pornographic film in the United States.

Alphonzen said...

Why is it neccessary to meditate anyway? I don't think unleashing your unconscious is the sensible way to go about real self discovery or therapy.
Afterall, all those unconscious thoughts are random biochemical events in the brain.

True self discovery comes about from self enquiry and not from spilling guts of the brain.

Anonymous said...

Good article, but seems a bit sanitised. Even if zazen is safe the stuff that comes up isnt just there on the cushion. Brad doesn’t mention the insomnia, panic attacks, flash-backs, self harm and endless struggle just to continue function that can come with the process he describes.

BE VERY CAREFUL

Really and Truly said...

Alphonzen said "True self discovery comes about from self enquiry and not from spilling guts of the brain."

As long as we're conscious, every thing we experience is "self discovery", not just the convenient constructed narratives we recite to ourselves, believing them to be the answers to our 'self enquiry'. It's not only "unconscious thoughts [that] are random biochemical events in the brain."

Of course, there's a place for psychotherapy. There's also a place for "meditation". But it's not necessary to meditate. Some of us like it, and find it useful - for dropping ideas of "true self discovery", then seeing what's left.

If you find meditation disturbing and unhelpful, don't do it.

Anonymous said...

the trauma continues

Anonymous said...

the rain in spain

Jinzang said...

The full text of King's History of Homeopathy can also be found on Google Book Search. I wouldn't call it a "fun read," it's mostly of interest to historians. Much better is Julian Winston's Faces of Homeopathy, but you or your library will have to fork out cash to buy it.

mtto said...

I posted this on the local dsla google group; please check there if you plan on attending.

Kevin is leading all day zazen this Saturday, April 18. Kevin emailed me about having lunch less scattered than last month. So maybe we're doing oryoki, if people RSVP.

We need a volunteer to assist cooking @ 9:30 AM.

If we're doing oryoki, we need to RSVP. Please respond to the post on the google group if you will be attending.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Very excellent article zazen and trauma victim practitioners--in fact, all of us practicing zazen

I do have one beef about it: the Gempo bit really had no place in it and the article did not require bringing him up
In fact I believe the article is stronger without it
I do understand how it came about to be included--given the recent blog entry about the guy in Holland.

I thorougly agree with the general position I have my own various objections maybe someday I'lI elaborate

Anonymous said...

DROP THE A-BOMB ON ME!!!!

Anonymous said...

"If you find meditation disturbing and unhelpful, don't do it."

Obviously. However the problem for some people is that things can come up very suddenly, and often, when that happens, stopping sitting doesnt make them go away again. Its too late.

Anonymous said...

Anon@2:39:

However the problem for some people is that things can come up very suddenly, and often, when that happens, stopping sitting doesnt make them go away again. Its too lateThat's been my experience. Then it's a case of finding a way to accept what has arisen.

I tend to think that if this stuff surfaces then at some level you are capable of dealing with it but that does not mean that dealing with it will be fun or easy or do-able in a Zendo.

Mumon said...

Do wish you folks knew that there are zen folks who do koan zazen.

Mr. Reee said...

Not to belittle what may 'come up' for some in zazen--but isn't the whole point to recognize that thoughts aren't real? (and by extension, thoughts are not our 'selves?') Taking things a bite at a time makes sense, but encountering a thought that makes one want to run in panic sounds like a great opportunity to focus one's attention to turn it around. The very things that seem to bind us also hold the keys to our release.

OTOH, if you come to zazen on the fragile side, it would make sense to proceed with caution. Delusion is powerful, especially if you're not in great shape in the first place.

Perhaps evaluating where you're starting from is just as important as choosing a teacher or a style or whatnot?

Anonymous said...

Like Slavery in the first 100 years,
and Vietnam in the second,
9/11 Treason is the national trauma
of the third 100 years
of these United States.

All that's needed now
is an iconic song.

David said...

This is one of the dark sides of meditation practice that few teachers acknowledge and is not very well known to the public. While sitting for 15 minutes in the morning and evening probably isn't going to take a person into the kind of deep territory where these things can manifest, more intensive practice can. I have personally known three individuals who have had psychotic breaks caused by zazen practice. (I'm not trying to single out zazen, there are many examples of this in other mediation traditions) One of the breaks was a kind of religious mania, and the other two were due to the sudden recovery of repressed traumatic memories. Both of those who recovered repressed memories were well-seasoned Zen practitioners who had sat numerous sesshins and engaged in regular practice for a number of years. One of the people had no conscious awareness of the traumatic event until it came up in zazen and was later independently verified. The effects of this on their lives was extremely profound, messing them up for years.

Because of this, anyone engaging in intensive zazen practice, such as sesshin, is potentially at risk, as you just don't know what kind of crap (or bombs) lie buried in your psyche. Certainly, anyone with a history of mental illness must be especially careful. Zen teachers should do more to warn people about these risks, and have resources available, such as mental health professionals they can consult in case someone under their instruction has such a break.

zakatista69 said...

I've completed two week long sesshin and had some sort of psychotic episode during the last one. Pretty scary at the time. Makes me wonder if the concept of "kensho" is actually the inducement of psychosis to which buddhist dialectic is then attached…