Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Integrating Adult Developmental and Metacognitive Theory with Indo-Tibetan Contemplative Essence Psychology

John Churchill & Tom Murray

In a world that (according to the World Health Organization) has approximately 450 million people suffering from some form of mental disease, there is a deep need to re-envision mental health care. Indo-Tibetan contemplative psychology is a practice-based evidence lineage tradition of between two-and-a half to nine millennia dedicated to the reduction of suffering and the full flowering of human potential. Whilst mindfulness meditation is becoming increasingly popular and effective in the reduction of mental suffering in contemporary culture and psychotherapy, the full contemplative psychology, of which mindfulness is but a foundational skill, is still relatively unknown. Therefore, there is an increasing need to understand and translate the theoretical foundations of such a psychology into a language that psychologists and educated laypersons can understand. In addition, we can explore how modern science can deepen the wisdom and adoption of such traditions. Using the theoretical perspectives of adult developmental psychology and metacognition, this project reveals the psychology of the Indo-Tibetan tradition as a sophisticated developmental psychology that, when practiced, facilitates a fundamental transformation in identity, or the basis of psychological operations, from which an individual experiences the world. Such a developmental process has the potential to eradicate the fundamental suffering caused from cognitive fusion with the basic structures of experience (body, self, thought, emotion, time, dualistic perception, and the attentional-intentional system), allowing for a transition to a fundamentally open boundless experience of identity, within which arises the experience of interconnectedness and the ensuing altruistic motivation to benefit the social good. Among contemporary adult developmental theories we believe that the STAGES model is most compatible with the principles of Indo-Tibetan Contemplative Essence Psychology. We use the STAGES model to show how eastern and western methods can inter-inform each other. This study is one brick in building the bridge between East and West, a bridge that honors the psychology of the East as being a rigorous, technical, and socially relevant psychological framework that, yet, can still evolve.

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