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Lions Roar : November 2012
59 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 ful and impure served the monastic community, says Goodman, because it helped monks maintain their celibacy. “It’s a rich area of practice to look at how our gender and sex- ual orientation affect our perceptions and how these perceptions affect our relationship to the teachings,” Goodman tells me. Very often, she says, sexuality is outside of our awareness; we compart- mentalize it. But we can look deeply at our thoughts and actions, and our mindful awareness can encompass our sexual behavior. Do we exempt our sexual fantasies when tracking the ways that attraction, aversion, ignorance, and delusion are affecting our practice? How do we integrate our practice into our relationships? And even when we’re in a celibate phase of our lives, are we aware of how we react to manifestations of sexual behavior in art and the media and have we made peace with our own past behaviors? “I’m very interested in the integration of sexuality and relation- ship in dharma practice,” says Goodman. “A sense of being embod- ied is harder to escape for women. We have periods. We give birth. There’s blood and milk. Our bodies are dynamic and powerful.” About two years prior to discovering the dharma, Goodman began undergoing psychoanalysis. Then she started sitting and was struck by the synergy between the work she was doing with her ana- lyst and the work she was doing on the cushion. “They’re both aware- ness practices,” she says. “In meditation we focus more on awareness PHOTOBYTRACYFRANK of how the mind works, while in therapy we also bring attention to the content of our experience. Sitting and therapy work beautifully together. Together you have a full-spectrum human being.” Goodman was inspired to become a psychoanalyst and worked in that field for twenty-five years, practicing mindfulness-based psychotherapy even before it was called that. She also led and attended Buddhist retreats and in the process noticed a pattern emerge. On the Monday after a retreat, she’d go back to her office and all her clients would have an opening or breakthrough in their therapy. She says: “At first I thought, wait a minute, how can this be? But it happened over and over. There was no question that when I became freer inside, it allowed everyone who consulted with me to step into that freedom and benefit. I wasn’t practicing just for me.” Goodman has practiced Theravada, Zen, and Vajrayana and, according to her, early Buddhism, or the Theravada tradi- tion, contains everything that you find in the later teachings of Zen and Vajrayana. “Early Buddhism has it all,” she says. From the koans of Zen to the Dzogchen practices of Vajrayana, the same principles are expressed in different forms, with certain things emphasized more or less. She concludes: “I’ve experi- enced a lot of joy at seeing the creativity and cultural sensitiv- ity of each tradition.” “As a woman,” says Trudy Goodman, “I’m very interested in the integration of sexuality and relationship in dharma practice.”