Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhismby Pilar Jennings
Mixing Minds explores the interpersonal relationships between psychoanalysts and their patients, and Buddhist teachers and their students. Through the author's own personal journey in both traditions, she sheds light on how these contrasting approaches to wellness affect our/i>/i>
"We cannot find ourselves, or be ourselves, alone." - from Mixing Minds
Mixing Minds explores the interpersonal relationships between psychoanalysts and their patients, and Buddhist teachers and their students. Through the author's own personal journey in both traditions, she sheds light on how these contrasting approaches to wellness affect our most intimate relationships. These dynamic relationships provide us with keen insight into the emotional ups and downs of our lives - from fear and anxiety to love, compassion, and equanimity. Mixing Minds delves into the most intimate of relationships and shows us how these relationships are the key to the realization of our true selves.
“With this remarkable book, the dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis has finally come of age. In a voice that is intimate, humorous, and at the same time wise and sophisticated, Jennings takes us on a fascinating and deeply rewarding voyage of discovery.”from the foreword by Jeremy D. Safran, editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue
“An engaging account that puts the relational encounter of two human beings at the center of both practices. Jennings enriches stories about her own analyst and her Tibetan lama with an easy and wide-ranging fluency in both psychoanalytic theory and Buddhist thought.”Barry Magid, author of Ending the Pursuit of Happiness
“Mixing Minds is at once skillfully dialogical and comparative, showing how Buddhist and psychoanalytic notions of relationality may be complementary without either being reduced to the terms of the other.”Mark Unno, editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy across Cultures
“With a deeply personal, erudite, and poetic voice Pilar Jennings tackles the paradox inherent in all the Buddhist traditions: while the Buddha attained his enlightenment as a solitary effort, we must do so in relationship. And Mixing Minds makes you yearn for just that kind of transformative relationship.”Arnie Kozak, author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants
“Jennings is a long-time practicing Buddhist and psychotherapist, who is well-placed to discuss how contrasting approaches to wellness can affect our relationships. She explores the synergy, examining why the focus on relationships is relevant to religion and how, although they do differ, Buddhism and psychoanalysis are actually compatible healing traditions. A useful and readable adjunct to the libraries of Buddhist students, and people in analysis, as well as their analysts: in fact, anyone who wants to be well and free from suffering.”Mandala Magazine: Editors Choice
- Wisdom Publications MA
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Read an Excerpt
In the contrasting healing traditions of Buddhism and psychoanalysis, there is a shared belief in the ameliorative impact of interpersonal relationship between designated healers and those seeking wellness. It is for this reason that both traditions, despite widely divergent methodologies and purviews, privilege the process of revealing one's inner life to a primary healer. In this work I examine how these intimate relationships between Buddhist teachers and their students, and psychoanalysts and their analysands, evolve and differ, with emphasis on the methods and goals they consciously and unconsciously utilize. Through this comparative examination, this work seeks to encourage a growing interest in and respect for healing modalities that are unique to each tradition and healing couple.
Through the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Winnicott, Bion, Kohut, and Horney, alongside the Buddhist sutras and the growing body of literature by Buddhist psychoanalysts, I examine how contemporary Western students steeped in both Eastern and Western traditions may experience relationship to their Buddhist teachers. The reader is asked to consider how such students may bring culturally specific psychological content to their Buddhist teachers. So too, I explore the increasing number of Western Buddhists who wish to examine their religious experience and relationship to Buddhist mentors in their psychoanalytic treatment.
Throughout the manuscript, I propose that these historically distinct traditions have begun mixing minds through this growing demographic of Western lay Buddhists who seek to examine both psyche and spirit in their respective healing journeys and relationships. Just as psychoanalysts and their patients, and Buddhist teachers and their students, exchange psychic content through their intersubjective experience, so too, these larger traditions have begun to cross-pollinate. This work searches for the boundaries of each tradition, so that practitioners and healers may consciously pursue their wish for healing with increased sensitivity to the limitations of any given healing system and relationship. It calls for an augmented curiosity for the methods through which healing transpires in the contrasting yet mutually informing worlds of psyche and spirit.
As a psychoanalyst and long-term practitioner of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, I utilize a subjective method to explore my own relationship to a Buddhist lama in contrast to my relationship with my analytic patients and in my own analytic process. This book attempts to invite readers into these intimate relationships as a means of exploring how they facilitate the healing people seek in either tradition. At times humorous, but with careful attention to the theoretical foundations in both traditions, this work provides an accessible way to envision Eastern and Western notions of happiness and wellness through personal examples of long-term study and practice as a Buddhist psychoanalyst.
Meet the Author
Pilar Jennings is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. She received her doctorate in psychiatry and religion from Union Theological Seminary where she teaches and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004.
Jeremy D. Safran, PhD, is a professor of clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1982 and his postdoctoral certification in psychoanalysis from New York University in 2001. To learn more about his psychotherapy research lab, visit www.safranlab.net
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So much of the recent literature on mindfulness and Buddhism is full of platitudes that don't advance the dialogue. Not this one! Dr Jennings clearly demonstates a deep knowledge and understanding of both Buddhism and psychotherapy. Beuatifully written, she has the ability to distill complex issues on both sides without oversimplification. If you want a challenging read that rewards the effort, get this book.