An analysis using Buddhist Inquiry of the integration of 3rd wave cognitive behaviour therapies, neuroscience and meditation into psychological practice.
Likely Contribution to Knowledge This research contributes to my understanding of the professional and personal context of my practice as a practitioner psychologist and Buddhist practitioner. It explores the diﬃculties of moving from the discrete positions of scientist practitioner to reﬂexive therapist to Buddhist practitioner and raises the question of whether the discomforting separateness of each position can be integrated to form a new transdisciplinary position for practice (psychology and theology).
Jean Piaget, philosopher and psychologist, ﬁrst introduced the term transdisciplinarity in a talk given in 1970, later published in conference papers (Piaget, 1972). Basarab Nicolescu, a leading philosopher-researcher in this ﬁeld deﬁnes transdisciplinarity as:! that which is at once between the disciplines, across the diﬀerent disciplines, and beyond all disciplines. Its goal is the understanding of the present world, of which one of the imperatives is the unity of knowledge.
This aim for a unity of knowledge appears to present an opportunity to combine the science-practitioner knowledge of psychology, neuropsychology and medicine with that of Buddhist teachings and practice. Embracing a transdisciplinary approach will allow for a development of guidelines for practice not restricted solely to theology or psychology but supporting the unity of knowledge of both.! This research therefore presents a rationale for the use of traditional
Buddhist meditation practices within a psychological practice. This use of a traditional meditative practice within a professional context is named Professional Buddhist Inquiry (PBI). The research provides a detailed description of the use of PBI in psychological practice. The researcher intends to hold a transdisciplinary position hoping to extend knowledge beyond the single disciplines of psychology and Buddhist theology into a unity of practice which is the essence of practical theology.!
Personal View of Research Contribution! This research arises out of the tension I felt as a practicing psychologist and practicing Buddhist. I became aware that my thinking about patients for many years had incorporated the view that there were some simple explanations for the wide range of patient’s mental distress which recurred repeatedly in my psychological practice: pain; losing something we wanted; wishing to avoid something we did not want and the strong objection to change. As I learned more about Buddhism I encountered the teachings on the three kinds of suﬀering Dukkhata Sutta (SN45):! 1. the suﬀering of pain which is
experienced as mental, physical and emotional discomforts.! 2. the suﬀering of change which is the dissatisfaction that arises out of nothing remaining the same, or being permanent.! 3. the suﬀering of conditionality which is the dissatisfaction that arises because of the interdependence of all things.! I began to consider my patients, both therapeutic and forensic in terms of Buddhist beliefs and practice. I had become more frequently professionally involved with serious
forensic cases and am now frequently invited to provide psychological assessments and subsequent reports on those who have been accused of murder, child sexual abuse or both. My professional practice therefore involves challenging encounters with individuals the world has often condemned and rejected before the trial process has begun. Often I attend court to present my report and answer diﬃcult questions on my views. Sometimes, I engage in a discussion with the judge. ! Such cases raise a number of immediate issues:! 1. remaining independent and impartial of the court process! 2. ensuring self care! 3. ensuring a thorough assessment of the individual accused and an informed, balanced consideration of the information available to me.!
On principle I wish to be open and accepting of those I assess and to provide an unbiased, objective, evidence based reporting of psychological information to the court. However, to do so had become increasingly professionally and personally demanding. I turned to my Buddhist practice to sustain me. This turning to my spiritual practice and my Buddhist epistemological and philosophical view of the world has sustained my practice and I would argue, improved my practice as a psychologist.! My research therefore examines the integration of my spiritual beliefs with my practice as a psychologist. I am researching myself, how I see the world, how I interpret my professional practice and how these are integrated into a working whole. ! My research questions are:! How do I go beyond the
mindfulness of third wave cognitive therapies and incorporate more from Buddhist traditions into my practice as a practitioner psychologist whilst remaining a scientist practitioner?! Am I able to oﬀer accepted psychological therapies whilst incorporating the wisdom traditions to my patients without compromising either?! Am I able to research my practice from a Buddhist perspective, using the practice of Buddhist Inquiry as my methodology?! I intend to research the ‘how.’ I have combined secular Buddhist practice and psychological practice which includes neuropsychology and third wave therapies with a traditional form of Buddhist meditation. I will ask ‘what is this?’ to examine the resulting practice and how it feels. I will inquire ‘does this help?’ to consider whether the
integration of my psychological and buddhist practices support both. I intend to use Professional Buddhist Inquiry, based upon a traditional method of meditative analysis within Buddhist practice to assist in examining a case study. I also intend to use Professional Buddhist Inquiry to assess the eﬀectiveness of the use of Professional Buddhist Inquiry, rather in the spiral of inquiry in Action Research. In doing so I will have appraised my own professional practice using Buddhist beliefs about the world, and determined whether using traditional spiritually contemplative methods of reﬂection and research are possible research methods. My ﬁndings are speciﬁc to my situation and my research questions so will not be
generalisable to the practice of other psychologists or other Buddhists but the research may provide issues for consideration in either practice.! An outline of the conceptual framework and research methodology The conceptual framework of this research is Buddhist Epistemology where an understanding of the world is considered from a Buddhist perspective. From this Buddhist epistemological view our experiences are aﬀectively and cognitively conditioned (constructed). As a result a critical, inquiring approach to all sources of knowledge, including our own personal experiences is essential. Without such an open critical approach we are subject to delusions, to mistaken beliefs which may result in harmful thoughts or actions. Within the Buddhist view of the world, nothing is taken as it
appears and the construction of events, objects, experiences and other encounters within the world and within ourselves are examined. In addition the Buddhist concept of dependent origination (cause and eﬀect or interdependence) is central to the Buddhist view of the world and how we know what we know.! Taking the position of being open to questioning the nature of reality and open to critical inquiry is an ancient practice which has parallels with our more recent, 20th century Western development of the constructivist school of epistemology, ﬁrst described as such by Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist in 1955, (Von
Glasersfeld, 1996). Piaget observed that young children, when covering their eyes to play hide and seek, believe their mother no longer exists. His empirical work demonstrated that knowledge, in the form of our understanding of the world, is both developed and learned. (Piaget, 1928). He showed that the child’s understanding of the world is not the same as an adult.! This recognition that what we think we know and how we know is used within Third Wave Therapies. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) suggests we are unable to think clearly because of our use of language. RFT suggests our thoughts, created with the use of words, are distorted by the associations the words used have with what is actually happening. These associations result in changes in our behaviours and our views of our self and others (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999).!
Questions to aid with the open inquiry into what we are perceiving and reacting to are: What is this? How do I know this? Family therapist Paul Watzlawick suggested: How do we know what we believe we know? (Watzlawick, 1984) ! Such openness is encouraged in order to avoid the extremes of dogmatism and skepticism. The Buddha encourages us instead to follow the Middle Way between these two extremes of thinking. A critical attitude is desired rather than that of grasping and clinging to extremism or dogmatism. The person with such an attitude to knowledge is described as the Vibhajjavada, one who analyses and debates. This research
intends to return to this Vibhajjavada historical understanding of Buddhism where one who analyses, a Vibhajjavada focuses upon sati (keeping in mind), a mind of nonreactive awareness, free from agendas, present to whatever arises.! Thus blind belief is condemned in the analytic teaching (vibhajjavada) of the Buddha. The truth of the dhamma can be grasped only through calm concentrative thought and insight (samatha and vipassana) and never through blind faith. One who goes in quest of truth is never satisﬁed with surface knowledge. He wants to delve deep and see what is beneath. That is the sort of search encouraged in Buddhism. That type of search yields right understanding. (Thera, 1960) p11 in Access to Insight version 2006!
Such insightful understanding can only result from both learned knowledge and direct personal knowledge of what is being considered (Tsering, 2008 LOC 950). Meditation is seen as one method of achieving this. Meditation is therefore not simply sitting on a cushion. It is research.! "The point of Buddhist meditation is not to stop thinking, for ... cultivation of insight clearly requires intelligent use of thought and discrimination. What needs to be stopped is conceptualisation that is compulsive, mechanical and unintelligent, that is, activity that is always fatiguing, usually pointless, and at times seriously harmful." (Wallace & Wilhelm, 1993)!
As such this is a research based within a trasdisciplinary model with seeks to go beyond the science-religion debate (Nicolescu, 2007) and analyse each from a position of not knowing.
Personal View of Epistemological Position! Describing the epistemological position of Buddhist epistemology strikes me as rather strange. In keeping with my Buddhist position this research takes no particular research position. Buddhist view of perception (openness) rather than aﬀectively and cognitively conditioned position. This is conceptually a challenge to academic research as I ﬁnd myself not able to claim this is even post modernist as this too is a position! A
critical review of the research undertaken to date Over the past four years I have maintained a journal of my thoughts, my observations as well as a number of entries where I have used what I am calling Professional Buddhist Inquiry.! I have attended a Neuroscience & Mindfulness Conference as well as the accompanying teaching by the Dalai Lama (2011)! I have completed a two year Lamrim training within Tibetan Buddhist school through the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition which provided a structured examination of Tibetan Buddhist beliefs and encouraged daily meditative practice and reﬂection upon the teachings. This particularly aided me with my limited understanding of Buddhist Epistemology. (2011-2013)! I have explored the literature and considered a number of the
diﬀerent schools of Buddhism (Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism) to discover what might be called Universal Buddhism: those beliefs common to most if not all schools.! I have presented three papers for completion of Stage 1.! 1. Third Wave Cognitive Therapies: Buddhism without Beliefs in Mental Health Settings. Pragmatism or Avoidance of Values?!
2. Being still and ﬁnding one’s self. How might awareness of self and not-self be important in psychological practice?! 3. Meditative reﬂections on the lived experiences of a practitioner psychologist and Buddhist practitioner. A proposal for practice based research using Buddhist Inquiry.! An indicative thesis structure Acknowledgements!
2. Buddhist Theology!
2.1. Why examine unifying psychology and buddhist practice under practical theology?!
2.1.1. Why not under psychology?!
2.1.2. Importance of reﬂective practice!
2.1.3. Inclusion of Buddhist practice into reﬂection!
2.2. Can there be a Buddhist theology?!
2.3. Can there be a Buddhist practical theology?!
3. Context! 3.1. Practice Dilemma!
3.1.1. How to unify area of profession, belief and self!
3.2. Is this Practical Theology?!
3.3. Gap in Knowledge!
3.3.1. Why original?!
184.108.40.206. Incorporating Universal Dharma into mainstream psychological practice! 4. Research questions!
4.1. Research practice using Buddhist Inquiry?!
4.2. Incorporate Buddhist traditions into psychology practice whilst still a scientist practitioner? !
5. Theoretical Framework Proposal!
5.1. Buddhist Inquiry!
5.1.1. Analysis of psychological practice though the use of buddhist inquiry/analysis!
220.127.116.11. Use of Buddhist teachings as form of insight into psych practice!
18.104.22.168. Integration of some Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, compassion etc.!
5.1.2. Practice of buddhist inquiry monitored through the use of journal writing!
5.1.3. Use of meditation in Psych practice to assist me - theory of use!
22.214.171.124. My personal use - and origins! 126.96.36.199. Personal journey of meditation/insight!
5.2. Related Methodologies!
5.2.1. Critical Thinking!
5.2.2. Reﬂective Practice!
5.2.3. Cycle of Action Research!
5.2.4. Intuitive Inquiry!
5.3. Related epistemologies!
5.4. Buddhist Epistemology!
6. My Practice!
6.1. Journal keeping (Moon)!
6.2. Meditation practice!
6.3. Uses of BI!
6.3.1. Experience of BI as reﬂective practice!
6.3.2. Experience of BI as critical thinking!
6.3.3. Experience of BI as source of insight!
6.3.4. Experience of BI as cycle of change (to improve practice)!
6.4. Speciﬁc Case Study!
6.4.1. Taking this further - Mara to understand good and evil!
6.4.2. Case study WI - using Buddhist concepts to understand WI!
6.4.3. Case study meditation re self care when working with WI!
7. Results! 7.1. Impact: ME & my practice!
7.1.1. Increasing depth of buddhist practice!
188.8.131.52. Stages of religious development!
7.1.2. Increased self care!
7.1.3. Additional learning re neurology etc!
7.1.4. Increased awareness of others?
8. Contribution to knowledge
8.1. Meditation based reﬂective practice!
9. Further Work!
13. Appendices!! An action plan detailing the necessary steps to completion
1. Buddhist Inquiry and reﬂection upon the case of AB!
2. Further analysis and reﬂection upon Buddhist Epistemology!
3. Write 30 000 for December 2014!
4. Write up to 59 000 for May 2014! Reference List Hayes,
S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (1999). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change. New York: The Guilford Press. Nicolescu, B. (2010). Methodology of Transdisciplinarity--Levels of Reality, Logic of the Included Middle and Complexity. Transdisciplinary Journal of Engineering & Science, 1(1), 18-37.
Nicolescu, B. (2007). Transdisciplinarity as methodological framework for going beyond the science-religion debate. The Global Spiral, 9(4). Piaget, J. (1928). Judgment and reasoning in the child. London: Kegan-Paul.
Thera, P. (1960). The Seven Factors of Enlightenment. The Wheel, 1.!
Tsering, G. T. (2008). Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications Inc.! ! Von Glasersfeld, E. (1996). Aspects of radical constructivism and its educational recommendations. Theories of mathematical learning, 307-314. Wallace, B. A., & Wilhelm, S. (1993). Tibetan Buddhism from the ground up: a practical approach for modern life. Boston, Mass.: Wisdom Publications. Watzlawick, P. (1984). The invented reality: How do we know what we believe we know?: Contributions to constructivism. London: Norton.