Humble Warrior Therapy is a form of holistic counseling rooted in Buddhist principles, techniques and teachings. Blending Western psychology with Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist psychotherapy is an approach in which suffering is understood to stem from the mind, or ego. Therapy based on Buddhist psychology includes practices such as mindfulness and meditation, and teaches us how to work with suffering.
The Buddha taught that our thoughts create our reality; in this sense, the stories we tell ourselves – our “inner monologue” – have the ability to hinder or promote well-being. Our minds take us away from the present moment, and can cause us great distress: through self-defeating beliefs and a resistance to what is here, right now. Rather than open ourselves up to this present moment and all that it holds, we remain in our heads, thinking about life “as it should be” and constantly believing that happiness will come “if only” circumstances were different. As human beings, our nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but in doing so, we rest our sense of well-being on external factors and events that are ever-changing, uncertain and not in our control. We attach to desired outcomes, resist painful emotions, and exacerbate our suffering.
By learning how to “step back” from our inner stream of consciousness, and see our thoughts as merely constructs of the mind, we are no longer identified with, and at the mercy of, our thinking. We see that our thoughts are merely subjective interpretations of reality, often times skewed and distorted as a result of conditioning, trauma and our individual histories. In recognizing the nature of the mind, we discover who we really are and find that our true essence is, as the Buddha said, “radiant emptiness”, the pure awareness that is always quiet, calm and at peace.
In yoga, the humble warrior pose represents the strength that is found in acceptance and surrender. In this pose, the lower body is rooted firmly into the ground, offering a strong foundation upon which to humbly bow forward, acknowledging our own Light and drawing our focus inward. In this sense, humble warrior pose represents the essence of Buddhist psychotherapy: when we feel secure and stable in who we are and in what keeps us centered and grounded, we have come to know our own light and our own love. We surrender to ourselves, however we may be in that moment, trusting that we provide our selves with a solid foundation upon which to stand. And in knowing this sense of surrender within strength, we are able to live with ease and grace, remaining centered amidst the ever-changing tides of life.