An intimate guide to self-acceptance and discovery that offers a Buddhist perspective on wholeness within the framework of a Western understanding of self. For decades, Western psychology has promised fulfillment through building and strengthening the ego. We are taught that the ideal is a strong, individuated self, constructed and reinforced over a lifetime. But Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein has found a different way. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart shows us that happiness doesn't come from any kind of acquisitiveness, be it material or psychological. Happiness comes from letting go. Weaving together the accumulated wisdom of his two worlds--Buddhism and Western psychotherapy—Epstein shows how "the happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego's need to do with our inherent capacity to be." He encourages us to relax the ever-vigilant mind in order to experience the freedom that comes only from relinquishing control. Drawing on events in his own life and stories from his patients, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart teaches us that only by letting go can we start on the path to a more peaceful and spiritually satisfying life.
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Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. This is Mark Epstein's memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how the teachings and practice of Buddhism shaped his approach to therapy, as well as a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. Going on Being is an intimate chronicle of the evolution of spirit and psyche, and a highly inviting guide for anyone seeking a new path and a new outlook on life. "Mark Epstein gets better and better with each book; Going on Being is his most brilliant yet. He weaves a mindful cartography of the human heart, tying together insights from Buddhism and psychoanalytic thought into an elegant, captivating tapestry. Epstein shares the spiritual and emotional insights garnered from his own life journey in a fascinating account of what it can mean to us all to go on being." -Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Most people will never find a great psychiatrist or a great Buddhist teacher, but Mark Epstein is both, and the wisdom he imparts in Advice Not Given is an act of generosity and compassion. The book is a tonic for the ailments of our time.”—Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth Our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work to be bigger, better, smarter, and more in control, is one affliction we all share. And while our ego claims to have our best interests at heart, in its never-ending pursuit of attention and power, it sabotages the very goals it sets to achieve. In Advice Not Given, renowned psychiatrist and author Dr. Mark Epstein reveals how Buddhism and Western psychotherapy, two traditions that developed in entirely different times and places and, until recently, had nothing to do with each other, both identify the ego as the limiting factor in our well-being, and both come to the same conclusion: When we give the ego free rein, we suffer; but when it learns to let go, we are free. With great insight, and in a deeply personal style, Epstein offers readers a how-to guide that refuses a quick fix, grounded in two traditions devoted to maximizing the human potential for living a better life. Using the Eightfold Path, eight areas of self-reflection that Buddhists believe necessary for enlightenment, as his scaffolding, Epstein looks back productively on his own experience and that of his patients. While the ideas of the Eightfold Path are as old as Buddhism itself, when informed by the sensibility of Western psychotherapy, they become something more: a road map for spiritual and psychological growth, a way of dealing with the intractable problem of the ego. Breaking down the wall between East and West, Epstein brings a Buddhist sensibility to therapy and a therapist's practicality to Buddhism. Speaking clearly and directly, he offers a rethinking of mindfulness that encourages people to be more watchful of th
The bestselling author of Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart combines a memoir of his own journey as a student of Buddhism and psychology with a powerful message about how cultivating true self-awareness and adopting a Buddhist understanding of change can free the mind. "Meditation was the vehicle that opened me up to myself, but psychotherapy, in the right hands, has similar potential. It was actually through my own therapy and my own studies of Western psychoanalytic thought that I began to understand what meditation made possible. As compelling as the language of Buddhism was for me, I needed to figure things out in Western concepts as well. Psychotherapy came after meditation in my life, but it reinforced what meditation had shown me." Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. Going on Being is Epstein’s memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how Buddhism shaped his approach to therapy. It is also a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. In psychotherapy, Epstein discovered a vital interpersonal parallel to meditation, but he also recognized Western psychology’s tendency to focus on problems, either by attempting to eliminate them or by going into them more deeply, and how this too often results in a frustrating “paralysis of analysis.” Buddhism opened his eyes to another way of change. Drawing on his own life and stories of his patients, he illuminates the concept of “going on being,” the capacity we all have to live in a fully aware and creative state unimpeded by constraints or expectations. By chronicling how
“A masterpiece. . . . It teaches us how not to fear and repress, but to rechannel and harness the most powerful energies of life toward freedom and bliss.” —ROBERT THURMAN It is common in both Buddhism and Freudian psychoanalysis to treat desire as if it is the root of all suffering and problems, but psychiatrist Mark Epstein believes this to be a grave misunderstanding.In his controversial defense of desire, he makes clear that it is the key to deepening intimacy with ourselves, each other, and our world. Proposing that spiritual attainment does not have to be detached from intimacy or eroticism, Open to Desire begins with an exploration of the state of dissatisfaction that causes us to cling to irrational habits. Dr. Epstein helps readers overcome their own fears of desire so that they can more readily bridge the gap between self and other, cope with feelings of incompletion, and get past the perception of others as objects. Freed from clinging and shame, desire’s spiritual potential can then be opened up.
A remarkable exploration of the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Mark Epstein reflects on one year's worth of therapy sessions during which he brought together his years of experience with Western psychotherapy and his equally long investigation into Buddhism to understand how the practices, in tandem, can lead to even greater awareness - for his patients, and for himself For years, Dr. Mark Epstein was careful not to let his spiritual leanings as a Buddhist overtly intrude into his work as a psychiatrist. Content to use his training in mindfulness as a private resource, letting it guide the way he listened to his patients, he hoped that the Buddhist influence on his work would remain invisible. But as he became more forthcoming about the spiritual aspects of his thinking, he was surprised to find that many of his patients were in fact eager to learn more, and he soon realized that the divisions between the psychological, emotional, and the spiritual were not as distinct as one might think. In The Zen of Therapy, Dr. Epstein reflects on a year's worth of selected sessions with patients and examines how, in the incidental details of a given hour, his Buddhist background influences the way he works. In this cross-section of life in his office, he emphasizes how therapy, an element of Western medicine, can in fact be seen as a two-person meditation. Meditation and psychotherapy each encourage a willingness to face life's difficulties with courage that can be hard to otherwise muster. Mindfulness, too, much like a good therapist, can "hold" our awareness for us - and allow us to come to our senses. With practice and patience, as awareness becomes dominant, and the observing mind becomes stronger than that which is being observed, a change can occur, and with it a wellspring of positive and life affirming energy. Diving deep into dialogues with his patients, describing sessions in real time, and then explaining the thinking behind his own words and behavior, Epstein shows h
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