A conversation with psychologist and meditation teacher nico hase, whose life revolves around long retreats and deep practice. Among other things, we speak about identity, the self, the differences between western psychology and eastern meditation practices, and to what purpose each of them serve.
How already at 14 - 15 years old there was distressing stuff going on in nico’s family, and how he was impacted by that. He didn’t know how to deal with all that anger and internal distress. Then he came across a book by meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, and that turned everything around…
Joseph’s book, Insight Meditation, spoke about suffering being an inevitable part of life - AND about the path out of suffering.
nico tells us about the experiences of his first meditation retreat, both the difficulties, but also a small opening, and with that a realisation that this could actually lead to peace of mind.
Only 18 years old he did a moth long retreat. At 19 a 5 months retreat, and shortly after that he became a zen-monk and moved into a zen-monastery.
nico says he feels that meditation saved him, and he tells us about the intense practice at the zen-centre.
How nico has practiced intensely both in the zen tradition, the insight tradition and the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Good zen books to read: Shunryu Suzuki: “Zen-mind beginners mind” and “Enlightenment unfolds” by teachers at San Fransisco zen-centre.
How meeting his future wife, Devon, while still at the zen-centre also introduced him to Tibetan Buddhism.
How meeting Mingyur Rinpoche, a renowned Tibetan teacher, made him go fully into Tibetan Buddhism.
How looking back at the suffering he experienced when he was very young, is interesting, because now, he can hardly recognise that person.
How his meditation training has made him able to work constructively with his mind when he gets thrown or upset.
nico’s thoughts on comparison between western psychology (he has a phd in psychology) and meditation practice, and how the ultimate goal of the two practices is very different.
How to bring your mind into a more peaceful state with meditation.
How to break the grip that your thoughts normally have on you, and how you can then look at your mind, and see your mind clearly, and how from there you can slowly learn to let go.
How the goal in psycho therapy is to get people who are in distress back to normal, whereas in Buddhist practice, it is assumed that you are already pretty healthy when you start, and your seeking is more existential, and the goal is enlightenment.
How it came about that nico not so long ago changed his name
How intense meditation practice does bring about big changes in our inner self, and how ingrained patterns can fall away.
We talk about how identity is more of a process and less of a fixed, defined, static and reliable entity.
How not having to defend this fixed personality is liberating.
We talk about how to be with and support someone who is feeling a lot of distress: to just be with them, and let them know that all these feelings are normal and okay
How it doesn’t work to give somebody advise who didn’t ask for it.