los angeles center for zen psychology

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Welcome to the
Los Angeles Center for Zen Psychology

logo Los Angeles Center for Zen Psychology
881 Alma Real Drive # 305B
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Tel. 310-455-0928
Email: DrAPolard@verizon.net



My sense of existence
Is the winged joy I do not grasp,
Will not destroy.
Kind attention to its home,
My life, the life,
Will sharpen it alone.

Andrea F. Polard
(inspired by William Blakes’s ‘Eternity’)

The reason for reading this might lie in your curiosity about Zen Psychology. On the other hand, you might also be looking for some pointers on your path. You may feel no longer satisfied with merely surviving the stream of life. For most of us, it is not enough to stop drowning—even though this remains the beginning of all subsequent effort. We wish to swim skillfully in the stream, grow, and create our own flow experiences, at home, at school and at work. Many also yearn to just be and bathe in the stream of life, become serene, take in the good and become thoroughly nourished by it.

I have founded the Los Angeles Center for Zen Psychology in 2012 where I continue my mission to help people cope and function better while also to help realize happiness with a new, integrative approach. To contact the Center, please click here.

Zen Psychology gradually evolved into a distinct form of Zen in the West. My synthesis of Western and Eastern thought -- as laid out in A Unified Theory of Happiness: An East-Meets-West Approach to Fully Loving Your Life was instrumental for me to declare this final emancipation. Zen Psychology has new effective transformational properties, helping people walk and stay on the path of inner peace and happiness. Awareness is the heart of Zen Psychology. It is the mountain peak perspective from which all other experiences -- thoughts, feelings, sensations, obstacles and whole beliefs – are realized as transitional.

There are many ways of uncovering awareness, some based on new scientific insights. Therefore, in addition to observing experiences and practicing “facing and embracing”, Zen Psychology uses a variety of modern interventions to invite happiness into the life of individuals living in the 21st century. This means that its focus is both on the direct experience of Being (non-dual self) and on concrete pursuits (love relationships, friendships, and goals). Please feel free to contact the Center, please click here.

Frequently asked questions

Who benefits from Zen Psychology?
Human beings tend to have a negative bias which means it is harder to take in the good than the bad. This also means that we often lose focus of the whole picture. Anybody who lacks focus, inner calm and confidence or feels outside the stream of life may benefit from Zen Psychology. Others simply wish to live more fulfilling, happier lives. Common symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to cope & adapt to changes (divorce, menopause, loss, pain, sexual orientation)
  • Relational problems (couples and children)
  • Weight problems

Do I need to become a Buddhist to benefit from Zen Psychology?
Definitely not. Zen Psychology mixes beautifully with a variety of religious and ethical believes because the historical Buddha was not and never claimed to be a God. To be a Buddha simply means to be awake, something almost everybody enjoys and surely benefits from.

What is Zen Psychology in a nutshell?
Like everything else in life, Buddhism is subject to change. After the legendary Indian monk, the Bodhidharma, brought Buddhism to China, it mixed with the philosophy of Taoism and eventually turned into Zen Buddhism. It continued to evolve in countries such as Japan and Vietnam. It is as if the Bodhidharma could not and cannot be stopped. Once it arrived in the West, Zen changed again and in a variety of ways, one of which I practice and call: Zen Psychology.

Zen Psychology is a way of life that is informed by Western insights into healthy pursuits and by Eastern insights into awareness of the stream of life. It does not merely add Buddhism to psychological thoughts, but instead is a true, living synthesis. This means that we must experience this way directly to truly benefit from it. It also means that while Zen Psychology makes use of many concepts and science, it is non-theoretical. A person is not put into a paradigm box, but greeted with present-mindedness throughout each session.

Why do we need Western thought to sharpen our sense of life?

The Buddha said, “Those who follow the Way are like piece of wood which is drifting along a stream. If it stays clear of either shore, and it is not picked up by men, and if it faces no obstructions by ghosts or spirits, and it is not hindered by whirlpools and does not rot, then I assure you that that piece of wood will finally reach the ocean. If students of the Way are not deluded by their feelings and desires, nor led astray by some evil influences, and if they are vigorous in their cultivation of the unconditioned, I guarantee that they will certainly attain the Way.

Apparently, Buddha was open to examine the many obstacles on the path. I think he would have enjoyed the new science of the bio-chemistry of the brain, of consciousness and feelings. There is much to learn from the new insights and much to experiment with. Feelings seem to dissolve when deeply understood or expressed, depending on the individual. There is always a danger of becoming stuck in feelings and thoughts, but when approached with awareness, the piece of wood can find its way down to the ocean. I cannot imagine that the historical Buddha would have rigidified in his ways and insist on having found the perfect path for all people at all times. His testimony is that of openness, humility, and love. Not unlike the Dalai Lama who has embraced science, the Buddha, I conclude, would have embraced psychology as part of the way. All it would have taken is for him to undergo a mental experiment, I trust. So much suffering can be addressed with the means of psychology, especially when embedded in the understanding that every person is part of the one vibrant, powerful and interconnected universe.

Let Buddha speak for himself one more time:

Do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: ‘this is our teacher.’ But… when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome, destructive, and detrimental, then reject them… And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome and good, then accept them and follow them.

What needs to happen before we can come from awareness?

This would have to depend on the individual. Generally speaking, in order to access awareness and thus the power of the universe, we have to experience our alignment with it. We have to both create space and realize space. The power of the universe lies in its 1) dynamic creation (impermanence), 2) abundance (giving and nourishing generously), 3) stillness (non-dualism, no clinging), and 4) interdependence (completeness; emptiness). In contrast to traditional Zen, Zen Psychology focuses on growth in the connection, the balanced body, understanding and experimenting with feelings, skillful means for relationships and goals, as well as accessing inner resources.

Please feel free to contact the Center for more information, please use the form below.

Services include Zen Therapy, Zen Consultations, Mindfulness Groups,
Workshops (see Blog/Calendar) and Training Programs.

For questions or an appointment for a free half hour introductory consultation, contact Dr. Polard

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Copyright © 2013 - Andrea Floren Polard Psy.D.