Sandra García: "The Self is not something fixed or solid, it is constantly changing".
We interviewed psychologist Sandra García, from Adhara Psicología, an expert in meditation and therapy.
Meditation and psychotherapy have many points of union, both in their potential to improve mental health and in their implications when it comes to adopting healthy habits.
Precisely this is the topic that we will address in this interview with psychologist this interview with psychologist Sandra García Sánchez-Beato, Director of Adhara Psicología and meditation expert, who proposes an integration between this practice and meditation.She proposes an integration between this practice and the principles of psychotherapy through the Insight Light method.
Interview with Sandra García Sánchez-Beato: getting to know the Insight Light method.
Sandra García Sánchez-Beato is a psychotherapist and meditator, as well as Director of Adhara Psicología and Director of the project Despertar, Psicoterapia & Meditación. In this interview she talks to us about Insight Light, a method that offers the benefits of integrating meditation into the therapeutic process.
What is the Insight Light® method you work with?
It is a method based on some important pillars, such as Contemplative Psychotherapy. It integrates the path of Buddhist philosophy on the idea of the self and the essence of our mind; the resources of Humanistic Psychotherapy and the latest advances in the neuroscience of meditation.
We start from the premise that all beings share a subtle mind that resides beyond mental phenomena and whose nature is goodness. Its inherent qualities, according to the studies of Buddhist philosophy, are luminosity, spaciousness and its lack of obstructing elements.
These aspects, in turn, bring us closer to positive qualities such as compassion, equanimity, joy or benevolent love, which we need to enhance.
With the Insight Light method we begin a journey that takes us back home. It is created to help us develop our potential. It allows us to direct the light of our attention to our inner self to discover, through awareness, what is going on in our heart-mind.
On the other hand, it contributes to explore the true nature of our mind, beyond conditioning, concepts and mental processes, and to find that more luminous, open and spontaneous inner space that we all share.
Insight Light offers us a path to follow, focused on integral personal growth, contemplating the spiritual dimension. In the professional field, it provides us with a working method that we can integrate as a resource in the therapeutic process and in other contexts related to health, wellness and education.
In its development there are a series of premises on which the method is based, associated with the mind, both as a container of mental processes as well as their nature.
First, the insubstantiality of the self. We need to make an investigative approach to the concept we have of the self. From Buddhism it is considered that the self is not something fixed, but is configured by a series of aggregates that offer us the idea with which we construct our identity.
This does not mean that it does not exist, but that it exists in a different way from the way we perceive it. It gives us the vision that our mind is a continuum in which instants of consciousness follow one after the other, giving us the sensation of being something solid, but in reality it is not.
This vision is very inspiring and revealing, since emotions and sources of conflict become more difficult to maintain if we explore that the self is something conceptual and imputed formed by aggregates.
Secondly, letting go of the clinging to the idea of the self. Believing that our self is something fixed, we relate to emotions, concepts, and mental processes by holding on to them and keeping them in us. As we free ourselves from this clinging progressively the emotions do not feed back and dissolve spontaneously.
This allows us to relate to our conditionings from a freer perspective, since we can let go of them and transform them without getting hooked.
Thirdly, the emptiness of phenomena. Delving into the emptiness of emotions, mental processes, and external and internal phenomena helps us not to solidify our experience. In reality, there is nothing we can hold on to. We need to cohere internally and integrate, freeing ourselves from duality, to create a flow of consciousness that allows us to live fully.
Finally, the qualities of the nature of mind. Spaciousness, luminosity and unobstructedness are inherent qualities of our mind. If we train ourselves to glimpse this subtle mind, it will be easier to open that inner space when we feel imprisoned by conflicting emotions. We thus avoid solidifying them, and learn to let them go. They lose intensity and prominence if we see them within an unlimited space.
To explore this vision of our emotional world, we will be working with practices that will be integrated: mental calm, the deep vision of phenomena, the deconstruction of the concept of self and the cultivation of compassion as an all-pervading quality.
To what extent do meditation and psychotherapy belong to different fields?
In my opinion, they are two complementary paths that allow us to approach the mind from two perspectives.
In psychotherapy we work with the most ordinary mind and its sources of conflict: our personal history, the root of traumatic experiences, their manifestations, beliefs, attachment models....
Everything that has been integrated in our mental continuum activating a series of tendencies, beliefs or attributions about ourselves. We explore how the outside world has conditioned us and created frames of reference from which we have learned to relate.
What the insights of Buddhist psychology and meditation practice bring us is the observation of the subtle mind as the container of mental processes, with its qualities of spaciousness, luminosity and unobstructedness.
These processes arise from the mind, but they are not an inherent part of it, and their nature is insubstantial. That is why they can be transformed and we can eradicate the causes of suffering.
Why do you think it is important for people to be trained in the theory and practice of this therapeutic approach?
If we work in a complementary way on the sources of conflict with psychological resources and train our mind to observe these processes by disidentifying ourselves from them, the negative tendencies lose strength.
If in parallel we cultivate qualities such as compassion, benevolent love, equanimity and others, negative tendencies dissolve like a drop of ink in an ocean and the most deeply rooted ones can lose strength and frequency.
With mindfulness and other meditation practices, the mind is trained to observe how our negative inner dynamics work and to let go of the clinging to those mechanisms. In reality, the negative experiences that we keep from our history are part of fixed memories and images that we feed back with thoughts or emotions, and yet they are quite diffuse.
They have no interest in staying with us. It is the clinging and the difficulty we have in letting go of them that entangles us again and again in the same emotional tangle.
How we relate to them is up to us. Precisely because their inherent nature is insubstantial and not solid, we can transform them and integrate them into our path by turning negative experiences into levers of change.
Insight Light offers us a roadmap. A new way of writing our story, which helps us to become aware of that light that resides beyond the Pain and in which we have to trust. We begin a journey to glimpse the true nature of our mind and trust that we can rest in it. It is like coming home.
Another interesting step is to work with the deconstruction of the self. From psychology we need to build a cohesive and strong sense of self. From meditation we learn to deal more realistically and fluidly with our sense of a self. This sense of identity is explored in a way that brings us cohesion and inner union.
However, we know from the direct experience of practice that the Self is not something fixed or solid, but is constantly changing and evolving.
This experience transforms the feeling of a solid and rigid identity into a non-dualistic experience with which we can move more freely. It opens up a new way of approaching our mental labels and the self-concept we have of ourselves, which can sometimes be very limiting.
By transforming and working in parallel with these two perspectives, the relationship with the ordinary mind is transformed, the sources of conflict dissolve and we become more connected with our true nature. Progressively achieving a state of greater mental calm and general well-being.
What is the way in which human subjectivity is understood in Humanistic Psychotherapy?
From Humanistic Psychotherapy, we work investigating the root of emotion and the sources of conflict.
Each of us is born into a particular environment in which different forms of relationships are manifested: attachment models, interaction with parental references, the good or bad treatment we receive from our parents, the rules or limits that are defined in the systems we frequent, forms of behavior...
All this shapes an internal frame of reference from which we will interact with ourselves and with others.
From the therapeutic approach, we explore that subjectivity that determines the way in which we integrate the lived experiences and how we relate to them. We need to know not only what were the spaces of conflict, their causes and their manifestations, but also how each one decodes and perceives them.
These disturbing emotions are fixed through micro-events that can become micro-traumas or more complex traumas, conditioning our present life in a very limiting way.
The type of emotions (their management, intensity and associated mental processes) will depend on the personal history of each person. Personal tendencies, attachment model, early experiences, traumas, family system...
Through Insight Light, this subjective vision is integrated by contemplating it within a process of interdependence. A series of causes and conditions have been given for experiences to emerge and become fixed in our mental continuum in a certain way. But being something conditioned, it is considered that it can be transformed.
We can observe in a disidentified way the circumstances that were given. As our mind is not something fixed or solid, but a continuum with its inherent qualities, we can train ourselves to transform the relationship we have as those experiences.
Awareness plays a very important role and the perception of reality as a subjective experience allows us to transform the view of our history from a kinder place towards us. Although the goal is to move towards a broader and more penetrating view of reality.
From your work in training programs, what have been the aspects that have most interested or surprised students?
When students begin to meditate, they realize the enormous potential within themselves. They begin to feel more responsible for their own lives. At first it can be a little dizzying, but then they appreciate the sense of inner freedom it brings.
They discover that reaching a state of happiness and well-being does not depend on external phenomena. It is clear that we are influenced by what happens around us, but they begin to be aware that the key to happiness is in their hands: in their mind-heart.
Another important element is the expansion of consciousness. They discover aspects of themselves and others that they previously overlooked. They feel freer to integrate internal changes because they are more aware of the impermanence and interdependence of phenomena and live them more naturally and with less resistance.
I would highlight another aspect, which is perhaps the most important: they learn to integrate a much more loving and kind relationship with themselves. This allows them to have a stable basis from which to implement the necessary changes to release the sources of conflict and relate to others from the same attitude of kindness and respect.
The practice of compassion spreads like the scent of perfume. This is part of a process, but it is a common denominator that arises naturally, if the practice is put to good use.
What are the main objectives you have set for yourself in designing and promoting these courses?
There is an extensive path that has been traveled by great masters who have observed and studied the mind in depth for centuries.
My aspiration is to continue to deepen the path of meditation and integrate its benefits into the practice of psychology.
To be able to facilitate resources and techniques that provide others with the possibility of reaching a state of well-being and wholeness. To help sow those seeds so that they may bear fruit and help the mind to mature.
With this motivation, I have designed these courses. To offer a roadmap to learn to trust more in our innate wisdom and goodness.
Currently I have created several programs that help to walk this path:
- Transform your mind, awaken your heart. It is a nine-month personal development course, distributed in weekly sessions during three trimesters: know yourself, connect yourself, reinvent yourself. We travel a path where we go deepening, in each one, in an integral way.
- Mental training in emotional management in five RIAST steps. This is an eight-week program in which we learn to manage and transform emotions using five steps.
- Psychomeditations: these are meditations that integrate therapeutic resources to help us become aware of and induce us to transform sources of conflict.
- Mentoring Mind: these are therapeutic sessions in which meditation is used as a resource to train the mind in the face of certain conflicts or negative tendencies. From mindfulness and awareness, we learn to neutralize them or replace them with positive ones.
I believe that Western psychology still has a lot to learn from the vision that these contemplative practices bring us.
They open up new perspectives that we can investigate and apply within our Western world. There is a great need to return to a simpler and kinder life, where we can recover a new way of relating to ourselves and to others.
Taking responsibility for our lives, developing qualities such as compassion and no longer looking outside for what we already have inside.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)