On the Zen of Therapy

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On the Zen of Therapy: A Live Online Conversation with Mark Epstein and Alzak Amlani

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This event will be streamed live online with an interactive Q&A. Instructions on how to join will be emailed to registrants shortly before the event. This event will be recorded and will be available to watch on our YouTube channel and portions of the audio will be released on our podcast.

If you need to request accessibility accommodations, please email at least one week prior to the event. For more information, explore our Frequently Asked Questions.

For years, Mark Epstein kept his beliefs as a Buddhist separate from his work as a psychiatrist. Content to use his training in mindfulness as a private resource, he trusted that the Buddhist influence could, and should, remain invisible. But as he became more forthcoming with his patients about his spiritual learning, he was surprised to find many were eager to hear more. The divisions between the psychological, emotional, and the spiritual were not as distinct as one might think.

Both meditation and psychotherapy encourage a willingness to face life’s difficulties with courage that can be hard to otherwise muster. Therapy—an element of Western medicine—can in fact be considered a two-person meditation. Mindfulness, like a good therapist, can hold our awareness for us and allow us to come to our senses and find inner peace. In his latest book, The Zen of Therapy, Dr. Epstein reflects on a year’s worth of selected sessions with his patients and observes how, in the incidental details of a given hour, his Buddhist background influences the way he works.

Through his writing, speaking, and work, Dr. Epstein illuminates the therapy relationship as spiritual friendship, and reveals how therapists can help patients cultivate the sense that there is something magical, something wonderful, and something to trust running through our lives—no matter how fraught they have been or might become. When we realize how readily we have misinterpreted ourselves, when we stop clinging to our falsely conceived constructs, when we touch the ground of being, we come home.

Join Dr. Epstein and CIIS professor and psychologist Alzak Amlani in conversation about his work and his latest book, and discover how, by weaving together the wisdom of two worlds, you can find greater awareness.

Mark Epstein is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Advice Not Given, The Trauma of Everyday Life, Thoughts without a Thinker and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

Alzak Amlani, PhD, is a core faculty since 2007 in the Integral Counseling Program at CIIS. Some of his courses include: Transpersonal Psychotherapy; Supervised Clinical Practicum; Enneagram of Personality; Multicultural Counseling; Clinical Relationship and Inquiry into True Nature--Exploring Body, Personality and the Soul. He is a practicing psychologist in SF Bay area since 1997 and has been greatly influenced by Buddhism, Jungian Psychology & the Diamond Approach. His writings are in the areas of intuition and archetypes; eastern and western views on human development; integration of psychotherapy and spirituality; and integral education. He has presented on these topics at various universities and conferences in the U.S, India, China and Russia.

We are grateful to our Bookstore Partner:

Marcus Books is the nation’s oldest Black-owned independent bookstore celebrating its 60th year. Marcus Books’ mission is to provide opportunities for Black folks and their allies to celebrate and learn about Black people everywhere.

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Organizer CIIS Public Programs

Organizer of On the Zen of Therapy

CIIS Public Programs produces conversations, workshops, and a podcast for people who are curious about themselves and the world. Our programs further personal and social transformation by bringing together the diverse voices of visionaries, artists, change-makers, and scholars to share compelling experiences, offer new perspectives, and expand creative horizons. Public Programs enhances and reflects the academic mission of our nonprofit university home in San Francisco—California Institute of Integral Studies 



CIIS students, staff, and faculty receive discounts on all events. CIIS Public Programs Members receive a 20% discount on all events. Contact us for more information (contact info below). Please note that we may check your ID for proof of eligibility on arrival at event. 


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Tickets and donations for talks and conversations are nonrefundable.

Tickets are fully refundable up to 7 days prior to the event start. Within 7 days of the event, credit may be available. No refunds or credits are available within 24 hours of the event start. Read our full refund policy at


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Phone: (415) 575-6175

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