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  • SELF-COMPASSION:

    INTEGRATING BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICES

    WITH WESTERN PSYCHOTHERAPY AND A GROUP

    COUNSELLING CURRICULUM

    by

    Amy Roomy

    MEd, University of Victoria, 2000

    Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    in the

    Curriculum Theory and Implementation Program

    Faculty of Education

    Amy Roomy 2017

    SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

    Summer 2017

  • ii

    Approval

    Name: Degree:

    Title:

    Examining Committee:

    Amy Roomy Doctor of Philosophy

    Self-Compassion: Integrating Buddhist Philosophy and Practices with Western Psychotherapy and a Group Counselling Curriculum Chair: Shawn Bullock

    Associate Professor

    Heesoon Bai Senior Supervisor Professor

    Charles Scott Supervisor Adjunct Professor

    Allan MacKinnon Internal/External Examiner Associate Professor

    Thupten Jinpa External Examiner Adjunct Professor School of Religious Studies McGill University

    Date Defended/Approved: May 18, 2017

  • iii

    Abstract

    In this dissertation, self-compassion and its significance to us are explored from the bifocal perspective of contemporary Western psychotherapy and Buddhist wisdom traditions containing philosophical, spiritual and psychological teachings. The dissertation explores the dialogue and synthesis that have been transpiring for the last few decades between Buddhist and Western psychological systems as proposed and practised by Buddhist and Western psychotherapists, psychiatrists and teachers on compassion and self-compassion. My personal orientation and experience of both Buddhism and the practice of Western psychotherapy serve to promote here a rich, meaningful integration and application of self-compassion in the arenas of education and human service, including schooling and mental health.

    Chapter 1 is a discussion of the context for my inspiration to study and research self- compassion as a Buddhist practitioner and psychotherapist. In chapter 2, I examine the Buddhist concept of self, as it is integral to the understanding of self-compassion. Perspectives and conceptualizations from some of the primary contributors to the burgeoning field of self-compassion are presented. Chapter 3 discusses further contemporary Buddhist discourses and applications on self-compassion in the therapeutic context. Topics of particular relevance are explored: mindfulness, Buddhist view of reality, wisdom, altruism and loving-kindness practice. In chapter 4, ancient Buddhist texts from both classical and ongoing traditional forms enrich the study; these provide a sacred historical authenticity to the discussion of compassion and honour the Buddhist foundational influences and practices.

    Chapter 5 is on emotion regulation. Self-compassion is the significant practice and skill involved in this topic. Emotional regulation, as it relates to cultivating positive emotions such as compassion and loving-kindness, has become integrated into affective contemplative practices. Chapter 6 presents scientific research relevant to compassion and self-compassion.

    Chapters 7, 8 and 9 present modalities for the development of self-compassion in group settings. Chapter 7 presents three major group therapy curricula used today by pioneers in the field of self-compassion: Compassion-Focused Therapy, Compassion Cultivation Training, and the Mindful Self-Compassion program. For chapter 8, I create a specialized self-compassion therapeutic application for Buddhist practitioners using a Tibetan Buddhist practice of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion. Chapter 9 discusses my secular group psychotherapy curriculum for self-compassion. The appendix includes an in-depth nine-session guide for facilitators of that curriculum.

  • iv

    Dedication

    It is my hope and aspiration that this dissertation contributes to the blossoming field of

    self-compassion research, study, skill development and practice, while providing a refuge

    in self-compassion for people who suffer in darkness, loneliness and anguish. My

    personal dedication for this dissertation:

    May all beings awaken compassion for self.

    Luminosity carries our existence beneath the subtle flow of impermanence.

    Pools of swirling torment obscure radiance.

    Compassionate mind warms and loves, opening through density of afflicted mind.

    Light clears completely and with wonder.

    Mind rests in a place of solace.

    —Amy Roomy

  • v

    Acknowledgements

    First and foremost, I want to acknowledge and thank Dr. Heesoon Bai, who has

    been with me since the beginning of my PhD studies, offering support throughout the

    duration of my academic journey. Drs. Heesoon Bai, Charles Scott and Allan MacKinnon

    were helpful, not only in reading but also in giving excellent feedback in the

    comprehensive exam. They are compassionate and inspirational in their support.

    Buddhist teachers have been a source of respect and joy such as Chagdud Tulku

    Rinpoche, Jetsun Kushok Rinpoche and Yangsi Rinpoche of Portland. These three

    Rinpoches, who embodied compassion and wisdom, encouraged me to pursue

    compassion as a life-long journey. (Rinpoche is a lama who chooses his/her birth and is

    recognized as such by other high lamas.) I also want to honour the deep tradition of

    Buddhism and the sacred texts that continue to have relevance in our modern world and

    are profoundly meaningful. From teachers I have worked with in my career, I have

    learned that self-compassion can be transformative and healing. As a result of a disability

    with my hands, which prevented me from typing, I was blessed to have my beloved

    mother help me with the typing and support me with her love.

  • vi

    Table of Contents Approval ............................................................................................................................. ii Abstract .............................................................................................................................. iii Dedication .......................................................................................................................... iv Acknowledgements ..............................................................................................................v List of Acronyms ............................................................................................................... ix Glossary ...............................................................................................................................x

    1. Inspiration and Context for my Exploration of Self-Compassion as a Psychotherapist and Buddhist Practitioner ...........................................................1

    2. Integration of Buddhism into Western Psychotherapy as Related to Compassion and Self-Compassion ........................................................................18

    Definitions, Terms and Descriptions of Compassion ........................................................19 General Nature and Qualities of Compassion ....................................................................21 The Focus on the Self in the Practice of Compassion .......................................................23 The Conceptual Framework of Self in Buddhism for Self-Compassion Today ................27

    Self-cherishing and its misapplication to self-worth ................................................28 Self-interest and its role in compassionate and altruistic intention and

    behaviour .....................................................................................................34 Self and ego...............................................................................................................35 Selflessness and the misunderstanding of self ..........................................................36

    Current primary contributors to the field of self-compassion ............................................41 Kristin Neff’s three constructs interwoven with other contributors' thoughts ..........42 Paul Gilbert ...............................................................................................................53 Other Contributors to Working with the Self Therapeutically .................................55

    3. Further Contemporary Buddhist Discourses and Applications on Self- Compassion in the Therapeutic Context ..............................................................63

    Historical Roots of Mindfulness and Breath Awareness ...................................................63 Mindfulness as Integrated into Self-Compassion ..............................................................64

    Critique and controversies of mindfulness ...............................................................66 Concerns regarding self-compassion ........................................................................72

    RAIN and Three Marks of Existence .................................................................................73 The Union of Wisdom and Compassion ............................................................................77 Altruism and Compassion ..................................................................................................79 Self-Compassion and Loving-Kindness Practices ............................................