An important underpinning of therapeutic change is the instillation of hope – a resonant belief in the possibility of change. Similarly, the third espoused truth of Buddist practice states that the end of suffering is possible. In fact, the term “buddha” refers not to a specific individual or deity but rather to “the enlightened one” that is said to exist within every individual.
To an important degree, the journey toward “enlightenment,” the cessation of suffering, and effective psychotherapeutic change all involve the heightening of conscious awareness of present-moment experience and the sharpened ability to create space between experiential, felt-sense reality, and thought-driven notions, interpretations, expectations, etc. as to how present-moment reality needs to unfold in order for one to “be happy.”
In Buddhist practice, as in psychotherapeutic change, the reduction of suffering paradoxically follows not so much from getting more of what we think we want or less of what we find averse, but rather through the lessening of attachment, or renunciation, to ideas of what we think we need to be happy. Cultivating space between our experiential reality and our thought-driven notions about that reality is a necessary condition for the reduction of suffering in Buddhist psychology practice.