Non-Dual Therapy and Coaching

Non-Dual Therapy and Coaching
Most people approach a therapist or coach for the purpose of alleviating suffering, typically attributed to an external cause such as our health, work, relationships and so on. The therapist helps us not only to explore the cause of our suffering and relate to it in a new way, but to investigate the thoughts and emotions that arise from it. There may be a variety of tools or approaches to facilitate this exploration with the hopes that our suffering will gradually diminish. 

As such, conventional therapy starts with the presumption that we are a separate self and then attends to the needs and suffering of that self. The separate self applies these methods and enjoys their benefits, but the fundamental sense of separation remains intact, which in turn becomes the seed for further suffering later on.

Likewise, we typically approach a non-dual teacher to alleviate our suffering, but in this case the therapist doesn’t start with the presumption of separation. They don’t give the separate person something to do; they encourage us to investigate the presumption of separation. Our interest lies in the one who has the experience of suffering, the one who says, ‘I suffer’.

In therapy, we believe we are suffering because of our relationships, work, health, etc., and these experiences are explored. In the non-dual understanding, all our attention is given to the one to whom our experience appears, ‘I’. No thought, image, memory, feeling, sensation, perception, activity or relationship remains continuously with us and, therefore, none of these qualify as ‘I’. 

We are always ‘I’. What is the nature of this ever-present ‘I’? It is simply the fact of being, being aware, or awareness itself. If we go deeply into that, we find no agitation or sorrow. Agitation is for our thoughts; sorrow is for our feelings. But we are the one that knows our thoughts and are aware of our feelings, and that which knows or is aware is itself inherently free of agitation and suffering. 

Peace and happiness are the very nature of our essential self. Thus, the peace and happiness that we previously sought through the acquisition of objects, substances, activities and relationships, and the peace and happiness that we hope to find through exploring our experience with the therapist, we find at the very heart of our self in the non-dual understanding.

In other words, in conventional therapy, we attend to the separate self and give it something to do to change its experience from agitation to peace, from sorrow to happiness, while in the non-dual understanding, the identity of a separate self is challenged and seen to be an illusion. I do not mean to imply that the separate self is non-existent. There is a difference between something that is non-existent, like a square circle, and something that is an illusion. An illusion does exist – it has a reality – but it is not what it seems to be.

What is the reality of the separate self? The true and only self of unlimited awareness, whose nature is peace and happiness. 

In time, as we recognise our true nature of peace and quiet joy and become established in it, we turn again towards the experience from which we previously turned away. Here, therapeutic intervention can help us to integrate this recognition of our true nature with the activities and relationships of our everyday life and realign them with this new understanding of our self. 

In the non-dual understanding, the therapist would facilitate this investigation into the nature of our self, which would lead to its recognition and, in time, help with the gradual establishment of our self in the peace and quiet joy that is the nature of our being. Therapy would then evolve to be an aid in helping us to align all aspects of our experience with this new understanding.



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