Bruce Tift, MA, LMFT has been in private practice since 1979, has taught at Naropa University for 25 years, and has given presentations in the US, Mexico, and Japan. A practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism for more than 35 years, he had the good fortune to be a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and to meet a number of realized teachers.
Monday, August 18, 7:00 pm–Wednesday, August 20, 4:30 pm
Our experience of intimacy is so alive, so meaningful, so provocative, that it seems unlikely that any one way of understanding this experience will ever be fully satisfying. In this workshop, we will explore the understanding of relationship as a powerful path of awakening. Viewing intimacy as a path suggests an intuition that more than our usual everyday experiencing must be possible, and that there are ways to move in that direction. These ways, or practices, seem to have a certain developmental sequence and are often difficult. The rewards, though, may be well worth the effort.
As children, none of us can experience relationship as mutual and equitable. We must, to varying degrees, shape ourselves to the world we find ourselves in and learn to cue off others' realities. We carry this training, which as powerless and immature young beings is accurate and appropriate, into adulthood where it now is the basis for what we call co-dependent dynamics. We will explore the nature of co-dependency in some depth, with a focus on how an inaccurate connection with one's partner–emotional fusion–arises from an inaccurate disconnection from oneself. Because our experiencing is so powerfully conditioned by our history and operates so unconsciously, we will discuss the importance of structure and discipline at this stage of our path. Personal responsibility is offered as the basic antidote to co-dependent dynamics.
Gradually, as we are able to protect and maintain our sense of self and integrity while close to someone so important to us, we find it possible to explore the stage of mutuality. Taking such good care of ourselves that we have no complaints about our partner, we can increasingly keep our hearts open regardless of whether we like or dislike what's happening. It makes sense to treat our partner kindly regardless of our feelings.
As we gain confidence in our ability and willingness to stay embodied with and to work with any experience that arises, we enter the stage of engaged spontaneity. We let go of our tendency to make our relationship a project, let go of our fascination with self-improvement. We more and more frequently arise fresh in each moment, finding an attitude of appreciation, curiosity, and open-heartedness. We know we're making it up as we go and wouldn't have it any other way.
This workshop is for anyone interested in using the experience of relationship as path. All are welcome: partnered, single, beginning or ending a relationship, therapists, or those wanting to explore the way they relate to their family of origin. We will use discussions, enactments, and role-playing, and will hopefully have some fun as we explore such an irresolvable and important part of our lives.
Psychotherapy helps us understand the deep historic conditioning we bring into our relationships. Buddhism cultivates the confidence that, in each fresh moment, we are free in how we relate to this conditioning. How can we use the inherent disturbance and richness of our intimate relationships as an opportunity for wakefulness? Understanding relationship as path, we will explore the practices that invite a gradual dissolving of our fascination with our Selves and our problems. With less self-absorption, we become more available for intimacy. Let's explore how we can learn to keep our hearts open within the profound provocation of intimacy.