More than anything else, I have found that my belief system and worldview about people are of greatest value to me as a therapist. My clinical training at Naropa University introduced me to mindfulness practice and Shambhala. Having trust in human dignity forms the basis of Shambhala, and one of the components to this is “basic goodness.”
“Basic goodness” can be described as being core to our shared humanity. At our very essence, human beings are good, but in life, our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions can have an adverse effect on our behaviors towards others, our environment, or ourselves. As a therapist who is sensitive to the spiritual and religious beliefs of others, and who recognizes the value that such personal beliefs can have on one’s sense of well-being, I appreciate the neutral language of “basic goodness.”
This concept was first formally introduced by Tibetan spiritual teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, as part of his vision of Shambhala. The idea around Shambhala is that, while influenced by Buddhism, it can serve as a secular vision for fostering an enlightened society. This can be done by helping people come to understand their minds and their thought processes from a place of nonjudgmental understanding. Such understanding can be achieved by regularly engaging in mindfulness meditation practice, which encourages being aware of the here and now moment without judgment or attachment.
I find mindfulness meditation and taking a more mindful approach to everyday life to be invaluable. Approaching life this way helps me to hold a greater vision of situations that can then help me to identify ways in which I can most effectively respond to those situations. Likewise, it helps me to trust in the basic goodness of others and the organic unfolding of life- for both myself and my clients.
Because of this, I am able to be with my clients or students without having the desire to change them, or thinking that I know how they need to change. In my work as a music psychotherapist, my intention is to support my clients in making the changes THEY want to make in their life, as opposed to me trying to define for them who or how they should be. While I believe that people are doing the best they can in the given moment, I can help those with whom I work to recognize the changes they want to make in their lives by helping them to better understand themselves. The ways in which I do this is through exercises in mindfulness, such as mindful music-making.