email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Student's Guide to the History And Philosophy of Yoga A.M. EnergyAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAlready FreeAlternative Medicine?AltruismAnd BreatheAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBack To Basics: Fitness with Charlotte OrdBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaBrightening Our Inner SkiesCalm Body Clear MindCalm Focus JoyCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberChakra MeditationsComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCultural Healing and Belief SystemsDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDeep ListeningDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise for Mood and AnxietyExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Fit Through GardeningGet Ripped & ChiseledGet Stronger Bones: 3 Workouts For OsteoporosisHandbook of MindfulnessHappy Yoga DVDHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing through ExerciseHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing, Hype, or Harm?Healthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?In Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangIntegrated YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKripalu YogaKundalini Yoga : DVDKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLetting Go!LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLunar Flow YogaMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful ColoringMindfulnessMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for CarersMindfulness for TwoMindfulness in Plain EnglishMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1Natural FlexibilityNew Good FoodNew VegetarianNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPain Free at WorkPeace Is Every BreathPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodRadiant Heart Yoga DVDReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSelfless InsightSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStress Relief to GoStretchStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Zen Tummy TonersThe 6 Qualities of ConsciousnessThe Accidental VeganThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Get Healthy, Go Vegan CookbookThe Harvard Medical School Guide to YogaThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Light of DiscoveryThe Mandala of BeingThe Meat Lover's Meatless CookbookThe Mindful Way through DepressionThe Nature FixThe Perfect ExerciseThe Psychology of LifestyleThe Qi Healing KitThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Science of YogaThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Yin Yoga KitTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Visitor 2008Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWeight Watchers: Ultimate Belly SeriesYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga - Philosophy for EveryoneYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga as MedicineYoga Bliss HipsYoga BodyYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for Your WeekYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga Quick FixesYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga, Karma, and RebirthYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaZen Encounters with Loneliness
Bruce Tift brings thirty-five years of clinical practice in psychology to his new book, Already Free, to offer the reader a fresh perspective on both the psychological sciences' approach to wellness and the Buddhist path to overcoming suffering. What results is a deeper understanding of what both traditions have to offer, and a comprehension too of the limits of each alone. In this book, Tift is bringing an acute awareness of, for the sake of gaining freedom from, deeply embedded conditioning that orients our adult behaviors, whose origins he locates in strategies developed in childhood for coping with overwhelming experiences. Tift sees these originally adaptive behavior patterns maladaptive for adult situations, leaving people feeling like powerless "problematic" people--like the children they were when they first applied these strategies. Much of what makes people feel anxious and depressed they blame on others around them or on external circumstances of their lives. They feel they are victims in their own drams, without freedom, and this lack of freedom shows up as a "stuck" feeling; their lives lack freshness, spontaneity, expansiveness, contentment, completeness, and open-heartedness. Tift reveals to us in Already Free how Western psychology and Buddhism diversely approach understanding and resolving these feelings. He applies both in his clinical practice to glean the most from two distinct philosophical worlds.
Western psychology, explains Tift, addresses people's ill being from the point of view that there exist actual "problems" in our sense of ourselves and in the external world that need to be addressed in order for well-being to blossom.. So the goal is to strengthen or improve the client's sense of self, build their ego, and find ways to improve the circumstances. On the other hand, Buddhism focuses on how people relate to their circumstances, rather than to the circumstances themselves, inviting a shift in perspective that permits us to fully relate to our experiences just as they are, embracing the messiness of the human condition and learning to work with our circumstances, rather than against them.
Tift sees these two differing approaches arising from contradicting logics and contradicting views of the nature of the human person. The West, since Descartes' cogito ergo sumexacerbated by the existentialist orientation critical to the development of a capitalist world of competing laborers and consumers, has human beings as individual, separately arising selves, competing for their place in the scheme of things--for jobs and for social status based on levels of consumption. The East tends to view human beings as instances of pure consciousness or awareness, not enveloped by, but entangled in, the world--what Thich Nhat Hahn calls "Interbeing"; nobody exists independently of other existing things, but just as it takes non-flower elements--cloud, soil, farmer's labor and a thousand other contributing factors--to bring to manifestation a single flower, so am I too made of non-me elements--ancestors, earth, water, sun, trees that clean the air we breathe, and on and on. Since we are entangled with the elements that enable our manifestation as a living being, these are both life-giving and a source of struggle, not merely struggle from which we must learn strategies to effectively retreat.
The Western and Eastern views also rest on diverse grounding logics. The Western psychological tradition sees their patients as sick, pathological, problematic, while the psychologist is framed as the well one. This logic is what Tift says caused him to drop out of a Ph.D. program in psychology after the first year: he was disillusioned with this way of viewing patients as ill, waiting to be cured of their problems. After travelling about the world, Tift found himself ultimately in Nepal, where he met up with the Tibetans in exile and developed his love for Buddhism, which he nurtured upon his return to the United States, joining his teacher Chӧgram Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of the Shambala tradition that brought Buddhist to the lay community of the West. In this tradition, Tift encountered a sophisticated understanding of the nature of the human mind, a view that emphasized human potential, rather than their frailties and pathologies, and a program of practical techniques for working with difficult experiences. He much preferred the logic of Buddhism that appreciates the mixed nature of everything, seeing nothing really wrong in the constant flux of life that scares us, but a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant in everything. So the point in this tradition is not to cure the problematic person and erase all the ills from the external circumstances of life; the Buddhist would think this impossible in any case. The point is to learn how to work with what life serves us and learn to get the most out of our circumstances, relating to our experiences more skillfully, not losing sight of the blue sky because of the clouds that pass by. Coming to this broader perspective is called "waking up" or becoming enlightened or free, hence the title--there is nothing to achieve; we are already there at every moment. We simply have to learn to see the whole picture and let the sunrise back into our sky.
Buddhist nun from the same (Shambala) tradition often states, "You are perfect just as you are!" while Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, adds, " . . .and you could use a little work." These two aphorisms together seem to approximate Tift's approach to healing his troubled clients: he calls upon the Western psychological tradition, which he calls the "developmental" view, to help clients to improve their sense of themselves and to strategize to improve their life circumstances, as well as to locate and work with their inherited (from childhood) patterns of behavior that are presently proving maladaptive. He turns to the Buddhist approach, which he names the "fruitional" view, to open more varied possibilities for his patients to relate to their lives just as they are, by shifting their perspective from what is wrong to how to work with what is and also appreciate the good things available to them, unblended by the "problems."
In this book, Tift first analyzes the two views, then reconfigures our idea of anxiety and struggle as a natural aspect of the human condition. Human lives are messy! Then he explores how all this applies in relationships, a primary site of struggle, because intimacy brings two messy lives in uncomfortable proximity and people come to apply their childhood coping strategies to navigate their discomfort. They see problems in their circumstances and project the blame for those problems onto their partner, creating codependent partnerships that allow both parties to always delay taking responsibility for their own happiness and for facing their childhood fears as adults. Tift closes the study with practical strategies for working with our difficult emotions and our challenging circumstances, giving abundant examples from his practice of how things go well or ill.
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It will appeal to those of us enamored with the Eastern tradition, while leaving a place and a function for Western psychology to ply its trade--but not on its own. His assessment of the faulty logic and view of human nature prevalent in the West is nothing less than brilliantly explained, so that any educated reader can glean the best from both traditions. Psychologists would do well to read this book so they may follow his lead and enrich their practice with fruitional strategies for well-being.
© 2015 Wendy C. Hamblet
Wendy C. Hamblet, Ph.D. (Philosophy), Professor, North Carolina A&T State University.