Feb 17, 2022
FREUD MEETS BUDDHA with DR. MARK EPSTEIN (Parts 1
“Therapists are part voyeur, part gossip.” – psychiatrist Dr.
Another rock star guest!
Dr. Amy Robbins has been admiring Dr. Mark Epstein’s work for
Mark is an MD and psychiatrist in private practice in New York
city and the prolific author of books about the overlap of Buddhism
and psychotherapy, including:
- Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist
- Going to Pieces without Falling Apart,
- Going on Being: Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and
- Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life,
- Psychotherapy without the Self and The Trauma of
His newest work, The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden
Kindness in Life is out now.
Mark received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard
and is currently clinical assistant professor in the post-doctoral
program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis at New York University.
We’re talking credentials!
Because this conversation was so juicy and ran long, we present
it in two parts.
Topics We Discuss in Part 1:
- [4:05] Healing occurs when therapy acts as a holding
environment where anything that needs to be talked about is talked
about. A spiritual friendship.
- [5:20] Dr. Epstein’s early interest in Buddhism, studying for
years in Asia before he entered Harvard medical school with the
interest in psychiatry.
- [8:09] Dr. Epstein’s foray into writing books to translate or
interpret Buddhist psychological thought into Western psychodynamic
language. And sharing his personal experiences to illustrate that
- [10:50] Free association may be Freud’s version of meditation.
Or maybe meditation is Freud’s version of free association.
- [13:31] Dr Epstein stretches the interpersonal boundaries of
traditional psychotherapy, sees it as a “spiritual friendship”.
While valuing boundaries as important elements of healthy
psychotherapy. The delicate balance.
- [18:07] Anger as an stepping stone to love. The normal
parent-child emotional dance around anger and love.
- [24:23] Western culture can be an obstacle to absorbing the
benefits of meditation. What meditation could or should can do for
- [29:39] Amy’s own struggle with her mind wandering during
meditation. And Dr. Epstein’s response to her very normal
Topics We Discuss in Part 2:
- [1:43] Dr. Epstein sees the division between real life and
meditation as artificial.
- [4:20] The importance of answering the question, ““How are we
not living life fully?” Therapy opens people to themselves.
- [4:50] The three components to an insight meditation.
- Concentration practices
- Observing awareness, mindfulness
- Insight stages; “who am I”? Letting the ego take a rest.
- [11:28] A Buddhist perspective on grief and loss: every minute
with your object of love is precious.
- [17:25] Dr Epstein’s long term acquaintance with Ram Dass,
formerly Richard Alpert. (Guru Ram Dass was the subject of
recent Life, Death and the Space Between podcast Episode
- [24:55] Dr. Epstein answers Amy’s speed round questions…
- Spirituality means…?
- What is something most people don’t know about you?
- What is one thing you’re looking forward to?
- What are you grateful for right now?
- What book is on your nightstand?
- What is your favorite healing practice?
- What is the most transformative experience of your life?
FOLLOW Dr. Mark Epstein
You can learn more about The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a
Hidden Kindness in Life and purchase your copy wherever books
You can follow Dr. Mark Epstein here:
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