Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

Thumbnail image for Mixing Mind Cover.jpg

I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow wisdom author, Pilar Jennings on the release of her recent book, Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism.

PilarJennings was exposed to Buddhist meditation early in life. Her mother took herto her first meditation course at age 10, and her experience there hasessentially influenced her spiritual and professional life ever since.


Mixing Minds explores the interpersonal relationships betweenpsychoanalysts and their patients, and Buddhist teachers and their WesternBuddhist students. Through Jennings’ own personal journey in both traditions,she attempts to shed light on how these contrasting approaches to wellnessaffect our most intimate relationships.

Throughher lucid writing, Jennings discusses the many radical differences and areas ofsynergy between Buddhism and psychoanalysis, with a focus on the primaryrelationships within each system. She explores how each tradition helps usenter into and sustain relationship, and how the core teachings of eachtradition come to life by examining how Buddhist teachers relate to their studentsand how psychoanalysts relate to their patients.


Here is my review of her book:

Mixing Minds is at once deeply personal, erudite, and poetic. It tackles the paradox inherent in all the Buddhist traditions — while the Buddha attained his enlightenment as a solitary effort, we must do so in relationship. Her fiercely relational perspective takes us through the social matrix we can navigate to understand the paths of Tibetan Buddhism and psychoanalysis. The intimate relationship with a guru or analyst serves as the foundation metaphor for transformation. Reading Mixing Minds makes you yearn for that kind of transformative relationship.


You can listen to our interview below (after a one minute commercial). I enjoyed speaking with her about a range of topics, including the Buddha and relationships, psychoanalysis, and the wonderful appeal of Tibetan Buddhist teachers. There is a formal 30 minute interview and then another ten minutes of informal conversation. Enjoy!

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  • Colleen

    Pilar sounds like a delightful being, and I agree with her philosophy to honor the impact of the unconscious, and her belief that the traditions of psychoanalysis and mindfulness fit together. Both practices are successful when we learn how we relate to ourselves, others, and our world, while staying patiently with the moment, rather than theorize. Both teacher and student need to stay with the reality of our story and explore with an open mind and heart.
    Arnie states that “mindfullness practice is becoming intimate with our experience”. Pilar states that we are a “pain phobic society”. I agree with both of these statements and ask the question: How can we become intimate with our experiences if we are afraid to face the pain? It is by embracing ALL parts of the experience that we begin to relate to ourselves and others in a more “wholistic” way. Psychoanalysis is simply being mindful of all that is, is it not?

  • reji

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