The psychology and yoga of self-liberation
Buddhist Insight, Existential Therapy, Dzogchen
Ken Bradford, PhD
ISBN 978-1-896559-78-0 (pbk) / $24.95 USD / 202 pages, 6.14 x 9.21 in / Illustrated / On sale Dec 4, 2021
About the Book
The human predicament is such that we strive to fill an inner sense of wanting that afflicts and dominates us throughout our lives. The lifelong sense of discontent, fueling the desire for something less (bad) or more (enjoyable) than what is actually happening, gives rise to compulsive thinking and emotional reactions that cause us endless anxiety, guilt and despair. Opening Yourself presents an understanding of the human condition informed by Buddhist and radical Existential psychology. It details how the self we constantly strive to fulfill, promote and defend is nothing but a chimera, a mental-emotional construct no more real than an image in a mirror.
Respecting this dizzying truth, Dr. Ken Bradford presents a contemplative yoga approach to free ourself and others from self-illusions. This existentially-robust approach integrates the skilful means of experience-near therapy, Buddhist meditation and the nondual wisdom of Dzogchen – the highest Tibetan yoga – in the service of opening ourself to who we truly are rather than who we merely think we are.
In the service of broadening the range of psychological inquiry and deepening the reach of spiritual realization, this book offers a practical guide for therapists, therapy clients, Dharma teachers and truth seekers. It proceeds by tuning deeply in to innate intelligence, in order to see through self fixations to the unfettered freedom, effortless ease and ecstatic lucency of being as such.
Ken Bradford, PhD is a teacher, psychologist and contemplative yogin in the vanguard intertwining Buddhist, Existential Therapy and Dzogchen thought and practice. He formerly maintained a psychotherapy practice in the San Francisco Bay area and was Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University and California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of The I of the Other: Mindfulness-Based Diagnosis & the Question of Sanity (Paragon House, 2013), co-Editor of Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Vol. 2 (Paragon House, 2007)), and numerous articles/book chapters. For more, visit www.authenticpresence.net.
What people are saying
Taking human awakening as its goal, Ken Bradford provides a startling and always erudite exploration of existence. Guiding readers towards shifting their awareness from what Heidegger called 'calculative thinking' to that of 'meditative thinking'. Chock-full of ideas, practical exercises, and revealing vignettes drawn from Bradford's meetings with clients as well as his own life experiences, Opening Yourself expertly challenges conventional perspectives of therapy. It is, without doubt, a book to return to and re-discover many, many times.
Ernesto Spinelli, PhD, existential therapist and author of Practising Existential Therapy: The relational world.
Opening Yourself is a powerful, intimate, trail-blazing book [presenting] a vivid tapestry of evocative reflections, meditations, and demonstrations elaborating an expanded existential-humanistic psychology [that] cannot be underestimated. Ken Bradford is the Buddhist scholar of existential-humanistic psychology. This is one critical direction with which [we] must--and should--contend.
Kirk Schneider, PhD, author of Existential-Integrative Psychotherapy, Awakening to Awe, and The Depolarizing of America.
Like a Zen Master placing stones across a rushing stream Dr. Ken Bradford draws upon his great expertise in existential psychology to lead us from the divided self to the shore of authentic presence.
Michael Katz, PsyD, author of Tibet Dream Yoga: The Royal Road to Enlightenment and co-author of Dream Yoga and the Practice of the Natural Light.
Reading Opening Yourself is like sitting in on an informal, high-octane dialogue between the existential/humanistic psychologist, James Bugental, who was Bradford’s mentor, and the Buddha. Be prepared for an exhilarating ride – clear-eyed, good-humored, earthy, erudite, provocative, and illuminating. The writing is deft, pithy, and often surprising. The synthesis of experience-near psychotherapy, Existential philosophy and Dzogchen honed by years of teaching both, and seasoned by Bradford’s own psychological and spiritual maturity, is profound. If you are open to being opened, this book will take you far … into being right where you are. A real gem.
John J. Prendergast, PhD, author of The Deep Heart and In Touch
In this rich and readable book Ken Bradford shares insights from a life-time of professional and personal experience. These he skilfully weaves together, showing us the unimaginable immanence of the brightly shining, awakened mind that is the secret nature of our troubled, self-laden preoccupations and conflicts. A wonderfully comprehensive guide book and a lot more for therapists who practice from within a Contemplative/Buddhist perspective.
1 Introduction to a Psychology of Self-liberation
Part One Outside In: Understanding the human predicament
2 Pitfalls on cushion and couch
3 Authentic presence
4 Divided consciousness: Being of two minds
5 Through the looking glass: Emergence of divided consciousness
6 The phantastic self
7 Broken-openness: A portal to authenticity
8 The arc of healing: From self-understanding to self-liberation
Part Two Inside Out: The contemplative yoga of self-liberation
9 Enlightened intent: The evolutionary thrust towards well-being
10 Mandala of self-liberation
11 Calming down
12 Tuning in
15 Letting be
16 It all comes down to this
Selected Dzogchen source texts
List of Exercises