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Am J Psychother. 2000 Fall;54(4):531-48.

Zazen and psychotherapeutic presence.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA.


Zen meditation, or zazen, has attracted the interest of many psychotherapists. The teachings and practices of the Soto Zen tradition are understood as encouraging important areas of both psychological and spiritual development. Zen, like the relational psychoanalytic theories, encourages its practitioners to become aware of the fundamentally distorted aspects of an overly individualistic view of human experience. As a spiritual practice, zazen increases the practitioner's tolerance and appreciation of the Wholeness that Buddhists refer to as Emptiness. As a psychological practice, it helps us to be more flexibly and intimately present with our patients. An effective therapeutic process, even of the most secular type, will often contain elements of the meditative process of zazen, and failure to actualize this in psychotherapy can have a negative impact on our ability to understand and help our patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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