Jesse Eugene Herriott is a psychodynamic and psychoanalytic theorist, influenced by Western Psychotherapy, specifically the works of D.W. Winnicott, along with Dr. Mark Epstein, M.D. His work explores the relationship of psychodynamic and psychoanalytic contributions to ideas about trauma, spirituality, education & career. Jesse has been an educator in Atlanta, GA for over 10 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, Masters degree in Criminology from Keiser University, and Post Graduate Certifications in Geropsychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University. He is an active member of the Society of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology (Division 39) of the APA (American Psychological Association). In 2015, he was selected by Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Preachers and Scholars.
Spiritual Practice as therapeutic…
“the happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego’s need to do with our inherent capacity to be.” ~Mark Epstein
Mindfulness is defined as the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Our minds are either thinking about the past or the future. Holding our attention in the present moment, where possibility exists, opens the door for the slow and steady process of transformation. And this happens one attentive moment at a time, transforming the simple things we find ourselves doing with our hands into anchors for our own healing.
Spiritual Practice as a Holding Environment for our minds
Donald Winnicott suggests childhood is where we first learn to live in our bodies and our minds. As we move into adulthood that safe space and holding environment should expand to the outside world as a healthy social life, with healthy interpersonal relationships. But sometimes that does not happen, and so we look for practices to help us recreate that safe space to get on with the business of living. Our spiritual practices substitute that holding environment by giving us a healthy appetite for living. And this transformative space can make any practice, from journaling, to gardening, to walking, spending time with friends and/or loved ones, reading, meditating, or simply spending times with ones’ self becomes a spiritual practice; as the doer of the practice, we breathe life and inspiration into what is being done, making the practice itself come alive in a brand new way because we are doing it intentionally and with care.
As a healthy practice, journaling gives the mind the opportunity to release itself whenever words are either not there or not available. Similar to Freud’s free association, if we were to pretend that journaling is like talking with a good friend, where we are allowed to weave in and out of conversational point without judgement, we can both get to know our true feelings & release them by lessening the tension of having to hold it all inside.
Trauma and Anxiety
In the words of Mark Epstein, “trauma is an indivisible part of the human experience,” meaning that trauma is not a respecter of persons. Trauma is a fact of life. Inner peace is based upon a realistic look at the things that cause us distress. While life pushes trauma up to the surface, we who call ourselves spiritual, use spiritual practices to push feelings of distress down, in order to avoid the discomfort. For many of us this doesn’t work–at best it causes more distress. However, for the things that we cannot control, that won’t go away, maybe overtime and with help we can find a different way to relate to them. Our willingness to face our anxieties and traumas are the key to healing from them.
whenever the physical demands of life don’t meet the inner longings of the mind or the soul, we have two choices-work with the environment to make changes so that the inner worlds and the outer worlds have a good working relationship, or create a false self in order to appease the environment, which could causing more anxiety and tension.
mindfulness meditation practices allow us to see the inner workings of our minds. Whether you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, happiness, joy, or a combination of everything or nothing at all–when we get still the noise gets louder. Instead of trying to drown out or turn off the noise maybe we can explore its truths & see what questions they are asking of us.
Two ways to feel back into yourself :
1. talking freely
2. non-judgmental listening
Free Assoication & Non-Judgmental Listening
If we are given the space to freely talk about the things that matter to us in the moment we are talking, without being forced to stick to traditional rules of conversation, be judged, have someone try to fix us, or give us an answer, sometimes what was once a blockage, breaks through in our interior space. Just to be able to flesh it out and then hear ourselves for once allows us to feel back into ourselves…and for many of us, knowing how we really feel about something can be monumental. Once we know how we truly feel about a thing, we can actually take action. And conversely, if we are not quite sure of how we really feel, there’s nothing that can be done that will have lasting effects.
the ego is the mediator between the demands of the outside world and the longings of the inner landscape…so instead of training the mind to reach for faith to avoid our distress, maybe we can train the mind to use its capacities to take us through all experience-both good and bad. If we push the mind too hard we can run the risk of breaking it. Perhaps a middle way would be to learn our minds by gently listening to our inner landscape; this may be the only way to manage the mind & all of its cravings.