Meditation in Psychotherapy Practice

As a psychotherapeutic professional, much of my training led me to think that spirituality has no place within the tradition of psychotherapy and that there was little intersection between these two arenas. Often times people are told that when addressing concerns about their psychological health, such as depression or anxiety, they should seek guidance from medical doctors, psychotherapists or counsellors, but the spiritual or metaphysical causes for their illness is largely ignored.

During my training as a psychotherapist, the closest that my education verged into spirituality was being introduced to Carl Jung who explored many aspects of world spirituality & his learning led him to be best known for his theory of archetypes, the collective unconscious and the use of symbols & dreamwork. After this I began leaning my interest towards Existential psychotherapy. This drew me into a more philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence. Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom detailed these givens as: the inevitability of Death; Freedom; Responsibility; Isolation and Meaninglessness. From there I went on to specialise in Bioenergy Psychotherapy and Reichian bodywork as well as becoming a Reiki Master.

It wasn’t long before I began looking outside of psychology for answers that I didn’t yet know the questions for. It was an existential crisis of Freedom that fueled my searching. I had a caged feeling within and around me that I couldn’t break through. It was a feeling that I, or something else, was holding me back in some way from living to my fullest potential. One of the parts I remember reading in Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ woke me up –

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”

― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

And there it was: An invitation to embrace my immediate experience of what was happening instead of my all too familiar pattern of resistance. Life began to move & more and more I found myself at crossroads where I had the option of walking the same old roads I had worn a path on, or choosing more of the spiritual path. The decision was an intuitive one, but definitely not an easy one. It seemed that my spiritual path had been untrodden for such a time as to have become overgrown with obstacles.

Several years passed after that before I began meditation. Embroiled yet again by my inner conflicts with Death, Freedom, Responsibility, Isolation & Meaninglessness, I had run the limit of the life-surviving skills I had amassed up to that point through psychotherapy and I needed a breakthrough. Meditation very quickly began to give me a sense of clarity & began to energise me. I was so tired and drained, physically, emotionally & spiritually but even a small amount of meditation began giving me back my strength.

It could have been easy to get to a point of feeling well again and then stop meditating, but I had experienced enough of suffering that I never wanted to ever recreate anything like that kind of suffering again. After a few years of practicing mostly on my own I could feel that I had reached a plateau of spiritual growth & awareness. I knew I needed a teacher & I knew I wanted a community of like minded people to connect with. I was searching & went to see many different teachers, different meditation workshops before I found a teacher I felt I could follow.

When I began my deeper Spiritual journey, I began to quickly realize that all the healing I had worked through in my own personal therapy & my own meditation practice was only a beginning. It was a little bruise to my ego that thought I had worked through so much! It opened a door to another world of healing & growth that I had been unable to even imagine before that. I had found the light that I wanted to follow and when I began to experience the extensiveness of the knowledge, it brought me to a new place of connection to myself.

For a long time after I started meditation, my psychotherapy practice sat alongside my spiritual path because I felt I didn’t know how to integrate the two in a professional context. What I began to realize over time was that anything I changed, healed or upgraded in me was inevitably present in the room when I was working. What I healed in me was no longer in the way in the therapeutic space, and no longer affecting my mind. My mind became quieter, my energy was stronger & clearer and there was a definite strengthening in my level of presence and level of awareness.

I began noticing that the people that came to see me made progress much more quickly than before. The deepening of my personal process brought a deepening to the therapeutic process also. As my intuition became clearer, there was less guesswork in finding the most beneficial therapeutic position or intervention for the person in front of me. I started analyzing less & being present more. It became more and more evident that the lighter & clearer my energy was, the more light and clarity was brought to my clients.

My work has become infinitely more creative & rewarding as a result of a daily Meditation practice. And regardless of how much progress I make in non-attachment to outcomes, it has to be said that positive results are definitely more encouraging! The path has transformed my work as a psychotherapist & in addition has opened me up to new skills with energy healing & teaching Spiritual Mentoring with Meditation.

Emer O’Grady Meditation teacher at Aria Therapy, Dublin City Centre ( BSc Psychotherapy & Counselling Postgrad Cert Bioenergetic Bodywork Dip Addiction Counselling Energy Healing & Crystal Healing

Reiki Master

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“Whenever you feel out of touch, sad, or like you are floundering, just stop in that moment and ask, “How may I serve?” Then reach out in any small serving capacity and notice how purposeful you feel.