Windhorse News & Events

Five-Day Zentensive Workshop: Spring 2019

Five-Day Zentensive® Workshop

New dates coming soon

Zen offers us a timeless vision of human freedom. It naturally complements deep forms of psychotherapy, and when these disciplines are worked with in a unified way they not only enrich the whole of the therapeutic process, but can also foster significant change on both personal and professional levels.

Our upcoming Five-day Zentensive Workshop and Retreat offers an experiential exploration into the psycho-spiritual realms of human freedom and compassion. It is designed to help mental health professionals develop a skills-based understanding of the deep changes that become possible when intensive forms of meditation are combined with a dynamic understanding of the unconscious.

A Zentensive brings together both intuitive and cognitive approaches to personal change, providing a path of transformation for a spectrum of unresolved intrapsychic issues. This way of working complements a wide range of other psychotherapeutic trainings, and translates directly into our relationships and professional work.

This Windhorse program will run this spring. The retreat has been accredited by The Washington School of Psychiatry for 30 CE/CMEs, including two for ethics, for all mental health professionals including doctors, psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, and nurses.

For more information and on-line registration, please go to:

Zentensives take advantage of the natural deepening that occurs as the mind quiets down. Intensive periods of meditation, especially when working with non-dual practices, effectively mobilize both conscious and unconscious realms of awareness. This mobilization works broadly, and not only touches into repressed issues related to intimacy, grief, and anger, but also may allow us to see into those recurring patterns, and early emotional templates, that can be so influential in our lives and relationships. For psychotherapists, openings on this level can have particular value with regard to their work with clients and patients.

A recognition of the rich potential inherent in the mobilized unconscious is also beginning to emerge in terms of western dharma practice. Practitioners in every tradition have gotten stuck, or become immersed in all kinds of remorseful and self-critical states, without having any real understanding of the underlying dynamics. In the past, many have no doubt given up in frustration; and unfortunately, what we’re beginning to understand is that at least some traditional forms of dharma work can actually make these disruptive conditions worse. Zentensives offer another way of moving ahead.

To be clear, the experiences that arise during a Zentensive can sometimes be unexpectedly powerful – the more deeply we see into the repressive mechanisms, the more directly the underlying feelings will be experienced. More characterologically-based defenses may also echo back to those very early years when the sense of self is in its formative stages, and these experiences can be powerful, but unsettling. This is working on the edge, and it calls for some delicacy.

Much of the ongoing process of working-through these issues is naturally guided by what might be called a person’s own informed intuition – we are undoubtedly our own best guides and teachers. This healing energy, along with the collective support that arises out of the group effort, can facilitate profound transformations. Whatever arises in the course of meditation can also be dealt with in dokusan, which are the private, somewhat structured meetings with the teacher.

Dokusan is not intended to be an alternative form of psychotherapy, though clearly, therapeutic benefits may arise. What happens in dokusan is always guided by how each person wants to use the time, and at what level they wish to work. This is not to say that spontaneous unlockings, and even awakening experiences aren’t possible there, they may come about at any time, but the primary function of dokusan is to help facilitate the clarification and deepening of a person’s practice.

With Zen training the intent is to experience this moment-to-moment fluidity as richly and profoundly as possible. This is as true for feelings as for any other direct experience, but because intensive practices mobilize the unconscious, and the focus during a Zentensive includes a disciplined awareness of the workings of the psyche, the whole dynamic system of feelings and defenses is often very present. Drawing a line between spirituality and psychotherapy is not always easy, but clearly the ultimate goal of each discipline is to awaken the heart of compassion – an experiential truth that transcends all such distinctions.

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.

Zentensive Advisory Board
Course Director:
Lawson David Sachter, LCSW

Committee Members:
Esther Rosen, PhD
Jeffrey M. George, Psy.D.
Jeffrey Goldsmith, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A.
Raina Bays, RN BSN
Sunya Kjolhede
Simon Goldberg, PhD