Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism ~ Pilar Jennings


Pilar Jennings was exposed to Buddhist meditation early in life. Her mother took her to her first meditation course at age 10, and her experience there has essentially influenced her spiritual and professional life ever since.

In this engaging and informative work, Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, on sale December 1, 2010), psychotherapist and long-time practicing Buddhist, Pilar Jennings, Ph.D., explains how she came to this world of “mixing and matching” healing traditions. Mixing Minds explores the interpersonal relationships between psychoanalysts and their patients, and Buddhist teachers and their Western Buddhist students. Through Jennings’ own personal journey in both traditions, she attempts to shed light on how these contrasting approaches to wellness affect our most intimate relationships.

Through her lucid writing, Jennings discusses the many radical differences and areas of synergy between Buddhism and psychoanalysis, with a focus on the primary relationships within each system. She explores how each tradition helps us enter into and sustain relationship, and how the core teachings of each tradition come to life by examining how Buddhist teachers relate to their students and how psychoanalysts relate to their patients.

Mixing Minds tackles subjects such as the assumption that one’s spiritual practice addresses the same issues/dynamics that are explored in therapy; cultural differences in the origins of these two practices as well as the differences in emphasis (spiritual/universalistic versus psychological/personal); the driving motivation behind the Western exploration of meditation and Buddhist teaching, as well as potential stumbling blocks along the path of practice for Western Buddhists.

Pilar Jennings in an engaging and fascinating interview, discusses:

• Why the focus on relationships is relevant to religion
• How Buddhism and psychoanalysis are different in their goals and methods
• How Buddhism and psychoanalysis are actually compatible healing traditions, and why they need each other
• How Buddhism is in fact a religion, and how this understanding can be useful to the psychological well-being of its practitioners
• The psychological pitfalls to practicing Buddhism as a Westerner
•Does therapy really work

Mixing Minds is one of the finest contemporary books on the dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis. Jennings’ rich discourse examines the strengths and limitations of each discipline, clarifies the way in which they can complement one another, and consequently deepens your understanding and appreciation of these two great wisdom traditions.

Pilar Jennings, Ph.D. is a writer and researcher who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation practice. She received her Ph.D. in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. Prior to this training, she earned a Masters degree in medical anthropology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors degree in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Pilar is a long-term practitioner of Tibetan and Vipassana Buddhism, and has studied with senior teachers in both traditions. She has also trained as a Buddhist chaplain through the Zen Center for Contemplative Care. Pilar Jennings lives in New York City.

In this clip, Dr. Jennings, author of Mixing Minds, discusses Buddhism and psychotherapy. For more information, visit http://www.pilarjennings.com.

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