Weaving a Tapestry of Wellness – Indra’s Net
At the core of my practice is mindfulness, and one of the great strengths of mindfulness practices is that they help us to stop and recover. From a quiet place, we can evaluate what is the most skillful means of addressing what is present in the moment.
One of the important aspects of my work as a therapist is my knowledge that I am a part of the solution, but only a part. It’s very important for me to remember that I am in partnership with my clients in working toward their well-being, and also in partnership with other people who form their web of resources. There is a Buddhist metaphor that I like very much. It’s called Indra’s Net — the web of connections between all beings, everywhere. A very beautiful aspect of Indra’s Net is the image that at every place the net intersects, there is jewel and each jewel reflects every other jewel, infinitely. Allan Ginsberg wrote this about Indra’s Net,
“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.”
Inter-being is the reality of our lives — all things are interdependent on other things for their existence – so it doesn’t matter how skillful a practitioner I might be if my client’s life is full of influences that undermine our work. So part of my job as a therapist is to help hold the center for his or her web of total well-being, to consciously track the connections, and to articulate this to my client. This process will require different things at different times. Sometimes we might need to bring in other professional help, like a psychiatrist who can offer skillful support through medication, or another therapist who specializes in practices that I don’t focus on. Sometimes we need to address their diet. Maybe it’s just a matter of adding some omega 3s or maybe it’s a total revamp that might take months to implement and require support from a nutritionist. Sometimes, we need to get them exercising, and it’s my job to help them navigate their (frequently over-ambitious) expectations, and take things one step at a time. Several of my clients have experienced success in quitting addictions with the support of hypnosis from Caty Shannon, an incredibly skilled colleague of mine. Some have benefited from a weekly meditation group, and others have even experienced important healing shifts through working with a Shaman. It is important that I work with an understanding of their belief structures, their relationships, and their own capacity for self-nourishment. What is required is not a recipe. It’s an openness to what is.
While there are many aspects of healing and wellness, at its core well-being depends on mindfulness. Without mindfulness we just keep spinning in the endless cycles of habits and self criticism and despair. Mindfulness offers us a stopping point to insert a new way of being — a place to assess, consider, decide, structure, measure, practice kindness, start over, see our patterns, take a breath… (“Etc. etc. etc.” as the King of Siam liked to say.)