George A. Boyd
It's nearly impossible to summarize George A. Boyd's career in psychology and therapy and counseling in just a few paragraphs because the man has done so much. He has studied transpersonal psychology, clinical psychology and even pre-medicine. He has also worked as a drug counselor, authored more than a dozen books, and is nationally recognized for his meditative counseling. The man has quite literally traveled a winding journey through the psychology field and that journey has left with him with a lot of stories, a lot of amazing experiences, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of advice. Fortunately, Mr. Boyd was gracious enough to not only answer our questions, but answer them thoughtfully and in deep detail. His interview with us offers a little bit of everything, which, given Mr. Boyd's career, is only fitting.
Tell us about your education? Describe your experience at UCLA?
I enjoyed the quality of education at UCLA—the instructors were excellent. Because I was a commuting student, working part time and living off campus, I did not have the opportunity to get involved with campus life.
The large class sizes for required major classes was something I didn’t particularly like, but it was something I accepted and learned as much as I could in that impersonal setting.
How did you decide on psychology as a major?
I began my education with the vague notion I would become a psychiatrist. At the community college level, I started out studying pre-medicine.
Then I did some reading on what psychiatrists actually do, and I determined I didn’t want to do that. I had some severe concerns about giving people medications that cause permanent brain damage.
So I thought about, “What is it that attracted me to become a psychiatrist?” I discovered the part I really wanted was to counsel and do therapy with people to help them lead better lives and to cope better with the problems of living. I decided that psychology was the best track for me.
What made you decide to get your MA in Clinical Psychology?
I actually applied to several schools when I graduated from UCLA in 1982, and was accepted to the California Institute of Integral Studies [CIIS]. I took some classes there in 1983. I seriously considered transplanting to San Francisco to go to this school.
Unfortunately, my mother died at that time when I was thinking about moving up there and enrolling, so my life took a unexpected turn that did not allow me to pursue my plan.
One of the challenges I faced was finding employment with my BA in Psychology. After several frustrating years of not working in my field, I went back to school in 1987 to get a Alcohol Drug Counseling Certificate—a field in which there was demand for counselors. This led to three years of employment as a drug counselor.
I was not really happy in this profession—the clientele was not growing or changing, and it was not rewarding for me to continue in this field. I wanted to do something else.
I had the opportunity in 1993 to begin doing academic and vocational counseling for youth—people who were growing and changing and making key decisions for their future. I wanted a piece of this!
I opted for clinical psychology as I had an interest in psychotherapy (what makes people change?) and counseling (how do people make the best decisions for their lives?) I wanted to go to the next level beyond what I had learned at the undergraduate level, and enhance my professional skills. It really seemed like the next step of growth—and it truly was one of the best decisions of my life. [Please tell those are contemplating psychology for a career—do the Masters degree, at least.]
Why did you choose CSU – Dominguez Hills? [CSUDH]
By the time I had gotten settled in my career as an academic and vocational counselor, I had the option to receive some tuition reimbursement assistance from my employer. Since going on for additional education had been my dream since I graduated from UCLA, I jumped on this opportunity.
I needed to work, so I selected local colleges that offered evening programs for working professionals. I evaluated cost, commute, and courses for several different schools.
I weaned the list to the top two: National University and CSUDH. I applied to both and was accepted to both. I considered which school would offer me the best education, and CSUDH came out on top.
You've also got many years of training under your belt? How do you use all this education and training today?
I have opted for annual professional training in counseling, addictions recovery, mental health, and health psychology courses to keep myself current with the fields of my training and interest.
I have also learned how to conduct webinars, how to self-publish books, Internet marketing, and coaching to augment what I do at the Mudrashram® Institute.
Some education is simply necessary for employment as a counselor. For example, you have to know suicide prevention, and dealing with child abuse and domestic violence.
Some education is to amplify your understanding of areas that perhaps you touched on in school, and you want to know more about them.
A counselor is always learning—learning from his or her clients, and continually learning to do his or her job more effectively and professionally.
How did you first become interested in psychology and meditation?
I have studied meditation since 1965. In the course of my meditation training, I became associated with what I term, cultic groups. It was important for me, if I were to teach meditation in an ethical and responsible way, so that I would not perpetuate the same irresponsible and manipulative spiritual teaching that was done to me, on others.
This led me to the study of Transpersonal Psychology, and Psychosynthesis—so I could integrate psychology and meditation; Cultic studies—so I could understand what happened to me and avoid doing that to others; and Anthropology and Sociology—so I could better understand the cultural and social contexts in which meditation systems are embedded, and how these forces shape belief and behavior.
What’s it mean to you to be selected as Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2005 & 2006? What other accolades have you received throughout your tremendous career?
I felt very honored to be selected, and that my students—whose lives I had touched— remembered what I had taught them and wished to recommend me as the person who had the greatest impact in their lives.
I was also selected for Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals in 1988 for my work in innovation in meditation—for developing the hybrid form of meditation that we call Raja-Vipassana. This form of meditation uses the “content selection” strength of meditation form that uses concentration (Raja Yoga) with the “awareness and content monitoring” strength of Vipassana.
What was the hardest part of your education? Did you have any setbacks, challenges, or epiphanies along the way? What advice would you have to some having difficulties on their educational path?
The hardest parts of my educational journey were (a) deciding what career I really wanted to do, and (b) dealing with the setback in not being able to learn transpersonal psychology at CIIS, about which I had dreamed.
Careful analysis, study, and soul-searching led me to decide upon psychology instead of psychiatry.
My setback of not being able to go to the college I wanted, though painful, led me to get the information I might learn at that school through alternative means: reading books, deep thinking and reflection using meditation upon those topics, and attending lectures that augmented my knowledge.
Having to postpone my graduate education for a decade was disappointing, but going back to college as a mature adult made me a better student, more focused, and with much more life experience to augment my academic learning.
Advice... If psychology is your dream career, don’t give up. Keep at it. There is a lifetime of education and growth before you. Continue to learn and grow through professional education, and most of all, from your clients—who will teach you more than any class, any seminar, or any practicum.
Are you having difficulties getting settled in your career? Learn additional skills in an area of interest so you can employ yourself until you can enter your career track using your Psychology education.
Tell us about the Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies? [MISS]
The Mudrashram® Institute of Spiritual Studies is an Integral meditation program that provides meditation training to people with all levels of facility with meditating—from complete beginners to the highly advanced.
We offer in person and by mail training programs for beginning, intermediate, and advanced meditation students; for professional education and training; and for training in meditation and stress reduction for employers and their staff.
Additionally, we offer individualized consultations for those seeking to use meditation as a targeted solution to a personal or spiritual concern, for whom a structured program is not relevant or appropriate.
Why did you form it? What is the goal?
I formed it to disseminate the teachings of Integral meditation to a worldwide audience, and train people in meditation, so they don’t go gaga in a cult, and learn to do meditation in a way that supports and honors both personal and spiritual growth.
What are some of the greatest accomplishments thus far?
Wow! There are a lot!
In 2006, I released the Mudrashram® Correspondence Course in Meditation, This is a complete mapping of “inner space,” what we call the Great Continuum of Consciousness. Nothing like this has ever been done before.
I am the author of 16 books—with number 17 nearly done; six comprehensive meditation training manuals in addition to the Mudrashram® Correspondence Course; and hundreds of articles on the internet on topics of meditation, transpersonal psychology, religion, cults, psychic studies, recovery from addiction, practical applications of meditation, and more.
Since 2006, I have been offering a service to the meditation community to work with people who are having “spiritual crisis” or “kundalini emergency syndrome.” Most people don’t know about these hidden hazards of meditation—and spiritual groups don’t talk about this—but there are a lot of casualties—people whose lives are ruined, who can no longer function, because they played around with meditation techniques or exposed themselves to powerful energies that they never should have gone near.
Since 2010, I’ve been teaching meditation over the Internet to people all over the world via webinars.
And the cherry on top? I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary of first teaching meditation, this year.
What aspects of your education and training have been most crucial to your success?
Learning to write clearly and cogently, so others can understand what I am trying to communicate.
Learning to analyze information using a multi-factorial process, and to dig down beneath the surface of a problem.
Gaining the ability to give a public speech, a seminar, or a professional briefing to the public and to other professionals.
Gaining the ability to shape my message so that people at a variety of levels of understanding of my topic can (a) derive value, and (b) comprehend what I am saying.
Give us some examples of the day-to-day processes of your career?
Doing consultations for kundalini or meditation training via Skype or in person Writing for upcoming webinars, web pages, and book production
Presenting community events [the Los Angeles Community Satsang] Answering student’s questions, and mentoring them, Teaching webinars and classes, and training people in meditation and related topics. Also providing metavisional readings to assist seekers and students make sense of where they are on the Path, where they are going, and where they have been.
Who/what are some of your biggest influences?
The four spiritual traditions from which I learned meditation Psychosynthesis, and the writings of Roberto Assagioli, MD The study of transpersonal psychology and the music of Bob Dylan.
Any recommendations of authors, speakers, or experts you suggest to follow for folks interested in counseling, psychology and meditation as a career?
Who you seek out for guidance must be individualized for your career and what you intuit is your mission. So what I sought out might not be relevant for you.
Once you identify what school of psychology makes the most sense to you, read, take classes, and attend lectures in that area. I was interested in transpersonal psychology, so that is what I studied.
For those interested in this field, let me slip in a shameless plug for one of my books titled Meditation and Therapy: Theory and Application.
Do you have recommendations of groups and organizations for someone new to the industry should follow/join?
I have always been so focused on my creativity, production, and delivering services that I have not had the extra time to participate in groups and organizations.
If I were going to join organizations, I would probably select the Institute for Noetic Studies, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and the International Association for Consciousness Studies—I probably have warped the names of these groups—as they are relevant for my areas of interest.
I would also recommend that you publish—on the Internet, books and white papers, participate in research, and get published in professional journals. These are some of the best things you can do for your career.
Is it necessary to join these organizations to be successful?
It depends on where your career is going. For some people, they are essential. For others—like me—they are entirely optional.
What is the value of being a part of them?
They are valuable for networking, learning the cutting edge developments in your field, and often can lead to career opportunities. If you can take advantage of them, do so.
Can you give examples of the industry research you have performed and how you got involved?
In 2005, I participated with the Children’s Institute International on a Think Tank on Mindfulness Meditation and Suffering.
I got involved after I had conducted a professional workshop at their facility, “Meditation for Therapists.” Staff contacted me to participate, as they were familiar with my work.
What are you working on currently and why?
I have three more books on my publication schedule, and I’m working on completing them. This is for my students’ continuing education in meditation; one of the titles will be for the general public. After these are done, I will probably do some additional eBooks.
I continue to develop new webinars for the ongoing education for my students and the general public.
I am revamping my website, and I hope to release an upgraded version by July or August of this year.
I am developing modules to teach meditation on-line—this will be a part of the new website.
I plan to learn more about coaching to augment what I currently do.
If you could go back in time and choose to do your education all over again would you choose the same path?
Well, since this was the natural unfolding of my life destiny, the answer is yes. This is what I came here to do, and psychology plays a key role in my completing my purpose.
Any final words for the future counselors who are reading this?
Psychotherapists and counselors are the shamans and witchdoctors of our culture. No sane, rational person would go into this field!
- It is underpaid.
- You have to get advanced degrees to make any decent money.
- It is extremely competitive to find jobs working with someone else, or getting clients when working for yourself.
- You will work with people who are ungrateful, often very disturbed and even dangerous, and you will work very hard, often for long days with many un-reimbursed hours.
- If you work for yourself, you will have to deal with the vagaries of insurance companies.You will not listen to me, however, because your joy, your passion, and your sense of life mission tells you that if you didn't do this, you would die inside. Because you were born with mutant genes, which make you want to make a difference in the lives of others and ameliorate some of the tidal waves of suffering that besets humanity—and because you feel empathy and compassion, and you cannot close your eyes or your heart.If you are not so motivated and driven by these irrational factors, you do not want to go into this field. Find something else to do. There are enough incompetent, uncaring, blind, and thoughtless “helpers” in the world—please do not become one of them. We have far too many, already.What is the best expert advice you can give for someone interested in meditation teaching and metaphysical counseling?Well, if I may put in another shameless plug for my own work.For a general overview of the types of meditation see A Mudrashram® Reader: Understanding Integral Meditation.
- For a in depth and penetrating analysis of metaphysics and its applications see The Psychic Realm: Finding Safe Passage through the Worlds of Illusion
For a complete compendium of the uses of meditation in meditation see Meditation and Therapy: Theory and Application
You have to read widely. Be prepared to have your heart and your head knotted up by confusion and conflicting ideas. You need to let your intuition steer you through these iceberg-laden waters until you finally find something that resonates for you. Act on your highest truth you can find, and keep learning and growing.
I am a pioneer. I have boldly gone where no man has gone before. I do not expect that you to follow in my footsteps, or even to be interested in what I rave on about during most of my waking hours. But you must find that truth that resonates for you and that guides your own work as a counselor and therapist. That you must find.
What I learned might not be relevant for you. If you want to see the crazy stuff I wrote about, you can visit my web site — http://www.mudrashram.com—there are many articles there in which I explore metaphysics, meditation, and their applications.
I cannot shorten your search. You must discover these truths for yourself. I wish you Godspeed in this quest.
Additional Questions I Would Suggest for Students Interested in Following the Track that I Took...
I would want to ask those who are considering bringing metaphysics and meditation into their psychology practice:
- “What will you gain personally—above the training that you will receive in your psychology program—that would be fulfilled by you learning and incorporating metaphysical and meditational elements into your practice?
- “Why do you need to do this? How will this contribute to your practice? How will this help your clients?”
- “How do you feel about using modalities that (a) are not empirically verified, (b) are often tied to religious or mystical belief systems, and (c) can produce unpredictable results?”
- “Do you have the ability to develop the clarity of inner vision, the capacity to meditate so effectively that you can guide others, and the inner discernment to determine which of your intuitive insights are accurate and worthwhile sharing with others?”
- “Do you have such a burning desire to do this that you could not face yourself in the mirror in the morning unless you do it? In another way of saying this, do you feel you have a “calling” or “vocation” to do this?”
- “If you decide to pursue this track, where will you train? Why is that the best program for you? Who will you choose for a mentor?”
- “What will you need to learn in metaphysics or meditation that will enable you to do the work you envi“What octaves of counseling beyond the conventional do you seek to implement in your practice?
- Finally, “Are you sure this is the best option for you?”