Zentensive December 2015

Zentensive Workshop & Retreat

Windhorse Zen Community

December 7 – 12, 2015


We are pleased to announce that our upcoming December Zentensive Workshop & Retreat has been approved for 30 CEs for a range of mental health professionals including physicians, psychologists, and social workers. (* footnote, see below)

This workshop/retreat will offer a thorough and experiential introduction to the psychodynamic dimensions of meditation practice. Because extended meditation helps quiet the mind and make the whole psyche more fluid, participants will have the opportunity to become more aware of their own inner landscape, and in the process learn a range of new skills and perspectives that can be employed for the benefit of their clients.

Utilizing a blend of in-depth Buddhist Psychology and fundamental psychodynamic principles, we’ll work to understand the layers of feeling, and avoidance of feeling, that are uncovered through meditation. We’ll work didactically and experientially with aspects of feelings and impulses, the channels of anxiety, and the activation of primary defensive structures. We’ll also explore the role of emotional templates and self-structures that so often color our lives.

Further, we’ll clarify some of the significant – and often over-looked – differences that exist between various forms of meditation practice, and examine how all these dynamics may affect us on conscious and unconscious levels. Finally, we’ll delve into the complex issues surrounding intimacy, as well as the healing power of the therapeutic alliance and its connection to forgiveness and compassion.

Aside from formal teachings and silent meditation, this workshop will give participants a chance to experience various forms of seated, moving and guided meditation; and to work with concentration, inquiry, and compassion-oriented practices. Time will also be available for group discussion and confidential interviews.


During a Zentensive Workshop & Retreat, maintaining one’s meditation during periods of stillness and activity are both considered vital parts of the training. The primary guideline of maintaining an inward focus is supported not only during times of seated meditation, but also in the midst of all that we do, including eating, exercising, working, and so forth. These activities function in complementary and mutually-reinforcing ways, and these workshop/retreats gain much of their strength through this sustained, concentrated effort.

More specifically, periods of ‘formal practice’ are required blocks of group practice, while ‘self-directed periods of practice’ are times of sustained individual discipline. Some aspects of training emphasize stillness, while others incorporate mindfully-based movement and body-oriented practices; some periods of training occur in silence, while others involve dynamic forms of listening and response.

The structure of a Zentensive is based on traditional forms of lay and monastic training that have evolved over many centuries, and in countless spiritual traditions. This particular form of Workshop & Retreat, which integrates both ‘psychological’ and ‘spiritual’ dimensions of our lives, as well as the ‘personal’ and professional,’ has proven itself to be an effective vehicle for deep and rapid change. For those who are more psychologically inclined, they can be particularly potent, and can offer us insights and understandings that few other life experiences can.

During this Workshop/Retreat we will:

Highlight the rich, and mutually beneficial dynamics that exist between the experiential psychotherapies and various meditation practices.

Teach various forms of seated and moving meditation, and ways of integrating this more ‘flowing consciousness’ into our lives and work.

See beneath the conditioning and repression that lie behind so many of the self-isolating, and self-defeating forces which disrupt so many lives, and the ways these complex dynamics keep us from experiencing our inherent freedom.

Bring forth the significant differences that exist between “mindfulness” and non-dual forms of meditation; how they can complement each other; and the impact they can have jointly have on the interface between conscious and unconscious processes.

Broaden our understanding of who we are, what it means to help someone, and what it means to live with greater compassion for ourselves and others.

Highlight the deeply creative nature of the psychological arts, and give credence to the teaching that profound levels of change are possible.

Participants will be able to:

Describe some of the similarities and radical differences between Western conceptions of the dynamic unconscious, and of the sense of self, with those found in an Asian/Buddhist worldview, with a particular emphasis on how they implicitly shape the psychotherapeutic process.

Experience, and be able to replicate, the use of meditation-based practices to access intrapsychic conflicts ‘lost’ in the dynamic unconscious.

Use different forms of meditation practice to further integrate and deepen emotional shifts that arise in the course of the psychotherapeutic process and beyond.

Experience with greater clarity the power of the conscious and unconscious therapeutic alliance, and their relationship to therapeutic compassion.

Utilize personal meditation practices to enhance ongoing personal and professional development.


This workshop/retreat is open to anyone who has a personal or professional interest in the intersection of meditation practices and Western psychology.

The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Washington School maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates the program for a maximum of 30 AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.

The Washington School of Psychiatry is an independent non-profit organization. It is not affiliated with the government of the District of Columbia or the government of the United States.


About Lawson Sachter

Lawson Sachter is a Zen teacher, sanctioned and ordained by Roshi Philip Kapleau, and a licensed psychotherapist. Lawson is also the president and co-director of Windhorse Zen Community, and the spiritual director of the Clear Water Zen Center. His Zen practice began in 1969, and since then he has participated in, or conducted, over 200 meditation retreats. His training in ISTDP began in the late 1980’s, and for the past 20 years has attended numerous workshops lead by Dr. Habib Davanloo in Montreal. Because he has worked closely with numerous participants in both intensive retreat and psychodynamic settings he has a unique understanding of the complex conscious and unconscious dynamics that can arise in the course of extended meditation practice.