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Purpose-​Centered Therapy

Two girls knitting

The Knitters by Elly MacKay

Shoma Morita was a Zen Buddhist, and his therapy left a lasting spiritual mark on Japan.

In the West, we tend to believe that what we think influences how we feel, which in turn influences how we act. In contrast, Morita therapy, created by Shoma Morita of Japan, focuses on teaching patients to accept their emotions without trying to control them, since their feelings will change as a result of their actions. In addition to accepting the patient’s emotions, Morita therapy seeks to “create” new emotions on the basis of actions. According to Morita, these emotions are learned through experience and repetition. Morita therapy is not meant to eliminate symptoms; instead it teaches us to accept our desires, anxieties, fears, and worries, and let them go. As Morita writes in his book Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders, “In feelings, it is best to be wealthy and generous.” Morita explained the idea of letting go of negative feelings with the following fable: A donkey that is tied to a post by a rope will keep walking around the post in an attempt to free itself, only to become more immobilized and attached to the post. The same thing applies to people with obsessive th …

Adapted from Ikigai: The Japanese Secret of a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, published by Penguin Books. Copyright 2017 by the authors.


This entry is tagged with:
Healing TraditionsEmotionsTherapyMeditation

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