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2019-Flint Sparks

Growing Up and Waking Up: Applied Mindfulness in Psychotherapy and Buddhist Practice, a 2019 Cape Cod Institute workshop led by Flint Sparks July 15-19, 2019

Flint Sparks

Growing Up and Waking Up: Applied Mindfulness in Psychotherapy and Buddhist Practice
July 15-19, 2019

Everyone wants to be free from unnecessary suffering. This was the Buddha’s only concern, and every practice he taught served to encourage the liberation of a clear mind and a warm heart. The relief of emotional suffering is also the focus of contemporary psychotherapy, and the wide range of techniques now available all serve this important goal. How are we, then, to understand these ancient mindfulness practices alongside the new and very potent methods for emotional and relational healing? Both approaches are profoundly transformative, and when skillfully woven together they pave the way for increased vitality and a deeper sense of peace, freeing the burden of unnecessary suffering. Such an integrated approach shows us how to grow up and wake up to who and what we truly are. The week will be geared toward understanding the function of mindfulness as the core practice that links both paths to greater well-being. Each day we will explore these integrated teachings and actively engage in mindful practices to experientially taste their potential.

Throughout the week we will be drawing primarily on two methods of contemporary psychotherapy–Hakomi and Internal Family Systems. These remarkably skillful approaches weave together applied mindfulness with an understanding of the multiplicity of mind in ways that reveal the Buddha’s teachings as practical tools for personal and relational transformation. We will examine the ways in which our everyday sense of “self” emerges and is sustained, how the contraction of conditioning leads to unnecessary suffering, how assisted self-discovery in mindfulness opens us beyond our habits toward greater possibilities for freedom, and how being led from the deepest source of wisdom and compassion supports practical human maturity. Along with reviewing the foundations of these two therapeutic models, our investigation will draw on perspectives from child development, attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, and contemplative psychology.  We will also look at the ways contemporary systems research and the Buddha’s teachings on mutual causality reveal the centrality of relationship in healing unnecessary suffering. Ultimately, we will investigate the ways that attention to relationality and mutual care opens the way to a life of freedom and joy. This is the embodiment of the Buddha’s essential teachings and is in support of freedom from unnecessary suffering for all beings.


  • Mindfulness as an engaged practice in psychotherapy

  • Loving Presence as the essential container for relational healing

  • Assisted self-study and the Hakomi Way  


  • Multiplicity of mind and the Internal Family Systems model

  • The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths for the relief of suffering

  • Redefining symptoms and pathology


  • Distinctions between attachment in human development and in Buddhist practice

  • Foundations of research on attachment patterns and interpersonal neurobiology

  • Interbeing and Intersubjectivity  



  • Mutual causality and the unfolding of the Self

  • Immediacy in the therapeutic relationship

  • Stepping beyond self-reflection and self-identification


  • The shadow side of mindfulness

  • Growing Up and Waking Up: The Double Helix of Maturity

  • Clear Care

Flint Sparks

Flint Sparks

T. Flint Sparks, PhD, is a Zen priest and former clinical psychologist with over 40 years of practice as a psychotherapist. His specialty in behavioral medicine led him to work as the research coordinator and senior therapist alongside Carl and Stephanie Simonton, pioneers in the field of holistic cancer care. He later directed the Cancer Self Help Program at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospitals in Denver and became a consultant to hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. Beginning his formal Zen training at the San Francisco Zen Center, he later founded the Austin Zen Center and nurtured that temple in its early days. He also co-created Appamada, a center for contemporary Zen practice and inquiry in Austin, Texas. He currently resides in Hawaii and leads retreats worldwide.

See / Hear Flint Sparks


We are delighted to welcome Flint Sparks back to the Institute!

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NJ Social Workers:

Social workers completing this course will receive 15 General Social Work Practice continuing education credits. ASWB ACE Individual Course approval statements can be found here.

For all other CE information:

Please visit our CE page and search by discipline.