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Symposium on Spirituality: Buddhism

Geoff Dawson

Spirituality in Buddhism is synonymous with the human qualities of loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity which are all expansive states of mind that connect us to something larger than ourselves. By contrast, what blocks this natural expression of our true self is the constriction of separateness that is symptomatic of existential narcissism. Buddhism is not exactly a religion in the Western sense of the term as it makes no reference to a God. It is more like a form of spiritual psychology that outlines the causes of our existential narcissism and how we can transform it. One of the central aspects of Buddhist practice is mindful meditation and its benefits have now become widely researched and applied to the psychotherapeutic setting. The practice of mindfulness is at the core of cultivating loving kindness, compassion joy and equanimity, not only for the patient/client but for the therapist as well. Therapists who have undergone extensive mindfulness practice are able to hold the therapeutic space more effectively through increasing their distress tolerance and maintaining an equilibrium of compassionate neutrality. This enables the client to enter into the present moment of their own suffering and stay with it in a sustained way that is healing for themselves. As they progress along the path of emotional regulation it also assists them to experience more of these positive emotional states as well.

24-28 August 2011 Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Darling Harbour, Australia.
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Geoff Dawson
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Geoff Dawson

Geoff Dawson B.A. M.A.Ps.S is a psychologist in private practice in North Sydney and Katoomba. His previous work has been in drug and alcohol addiction, schizophrenia and family therapy. He also worked for many years at Relationships Australia as a manager, trainer and clinical supervisor, before entering private practice fifteen years ago. He now mainly provides adult counselling and psychotherapy, couple therapy and clinical supervision. Geoff is also a faculty member, trainer and supervisor with the Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists, which he helped co-found. Geoff is a Zen Buddhist teacher who has been practising mindfulness meditation for over thirty years, in the lineage of Charlotte Joko Beck and is the teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zen School, Sydney and Melbourne. His recently completed manuscript is titled “Mindfulness and Heartfulness - A Zen Approach to Couple Therapy”. (2016)

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