According to current theory in social psychology, secure attachments are accompanied by a secure-base script. This script includes an assumption that there are people one can turn to for support, an assumption others can be trusted to give support and a recognition that you will be comforted by the support you receive. Interestingly, the devotional practices of many of the world’s religions employ a similar script in relation to a higher power, an imagined persona, or a real person. This talk will explore how practices of devotion in the Buddhist tradition may be acting to develop styles of relational thinking and feeling that foster a secure-base script, producing a sense of existential trust. We will also explore how these practices may support self compassion, a trait correlating with life-satisfaction and resilience. Finally, recent adaptations of devotional practice are beginning to emerge that allow for secular applications. The scientific study of these applications is still in its infancy. If it turns out that relational Buddhist practices, such as the practices of devotion, yield effective interventions that lead to restoration of secure attachment, this could become a significant area for future contemplative research.

Willa Blythe Baker, PhD

Natural Dharma Fellowship

Convening Faculty

Willa Blythe Baker, PhD, is the Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. She was authorized … MORE