THE DIRECT PATH
I opened my counseling practice in 1980, practicing traditional Western psychotherapy. After a decade, I felt a frustration from not seeing the transformation, for myself or my clients, that I longed for. I began to study Eastern psychology. I was on a mad search to discover what was missing. I literally came upon a paragraph that explained so much. It said that traditional Western psychotherapy is based on a false premise that who we are is our personality. The word personality translates as “mask.” Getting a healthier mask was extremely helpful, but, alone, was not resulting in the transformation I was after. I needed to blend psychotherapy’s approach with the spiritual approach, and that began to produce the transformation I was seeking.
The Eastern approach differed in one important way. Rather than “heal” the personality, they recommended discovering what lies behind the mask … our own true nature. In the West we call that “Spirit,” and in the East it is called “consciousness.” It is simply ever present awareness. This awareness lies dormant, in a sense, until we bring our attention to it. To become aware of awareness is the journey to awakening. We direct that awareness to shine the light on our psychological structure to free ourselves from being run by our habituated patterning.
To identify with our personality as who we are results in a sense of a separate self, which is the cause of our suffering. This separate self is simply an accumulation of our beliefs, strategies and perceptions—in short, “our stuff.” I discovered that there would be no end to “resolving” my issues. In the practice of meditation I became more and more aware. With that expanded awareness, I began to practice letting go of control. There was a willingness to directly experience whatever was arising, without resistance or attachment. Gradually I began to experience the transformation I had longed for. It seemed radical to me at the time, but I began to realize I could choose to simply experience whatever was arising. When I did this, it felt like freedom and also brought more presence. As I became more present, I then could notice the underlying peace and contentment that is always there.
Because awake awareness makes very different choices than conditioned consciousness makes, our choices begin to shift. That awareness remains whole and content no matter what is going on in the play of life. As the sense of a separate self dissolves, we become free of being run by our history. We feel more free from the controlling mechanism of the separate self. As we in turn become more present we have greater access to more conscious choice. We become free of being run by our mind.
My counseling practice now focuses on teaching and coaching people to live in the practice of becoming more and more present to their experience by letting go of the impulse to control anything. It is very fulfilling to see people return to their true self and find that underlying peace. There is an aliveness and a deep sense of well-being that is available to each of us. As we relinquish our cherished illusions and limiting beliefs and assumptions, we begin to experience our true nature … always free, unlimited, full, whole, and joyful in all things. It seems the purpose of our life is to experience that expansive happiness.