Unveiling the Secrets at the Crossroads of Mindfulness and Psychoanalysis

Allan Johnson, PhD
7 min readOct 15, 2023
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Imagine the mind as an intricate tapestry, woven from the threads of consciousness and the hidden fibres of the unconscious. In this tapestry, ancient contemplative practises and the more recent theories of psychoanalysis find common ground — a meeting place of wisdom and inquiry. It’s a fascinating meeting place where the whisper of mindfulness echoes through the corridors of the unconscious, where symbols and dreams intertwine in a dance of deep meaning.

In the realm of contemplative studies, from the tranquil gardens of Zen Buddhism to the vibrant traditions of yoga, people have sought self-knowledge for centuries. In recent decades, psychoanalysts, armed with work of Freud and enriched by thinkers who followed him including Carl Jung and Roberto Assagioli, have ventured into the uncharted territories of the human mind. The question arises: what happens when these two paths, one deeply rooted in ancient wisdom and the other in modern psychology, meet? How can the practise of mindfulness be reconciled with the cryptic language of the unconscious?

Contemplative practises, rooted in ancient traditions across cultures, and psychoanalytic theory, born in the fervent intellectual soil of the late 19th century, have one thing in common: an exploration of the hidden depths of the human mind.

To understand the interaction between contemplative practises and psychoanalytic theory, we must first explore the deep roots of contemplation. Across cultures and centuries, from Vipassana meditation in ancient India to Zen practises in Japan, contemplative traditions have embraced the art of self-awareness. Rooted in philosophy and spirituality, these practises invite individuals to embark on an inward journey, a journey that goes beyond the superficial layers of consciousness.

At the heart of contemplative practises is the cultivation of mindfulness — a state of heightened awareness in which one observes thoughts and feelings without judgement. This mindfulness, an essential component of contemplation, paves the way for self-reflection and allows individuals to explore the complex fabric of their mind.

As we delve deeper into these practises, we encounter echoes of psychoanalytic concepts that resonate at their…

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Allan Johnson, PhD

Integrative Coach | Mindfulness Teacher | Academic | Books with Palgrave and Bloomsbury