Tag Archive for consciousness

The Image Making Capacity of Soul: A Conversation on Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life with Dr. Mary Harrell

Every once in a while, a term emerges on the horizon of my awareness which I find strikingly beautiful. In this case, it is the “image-making capacity of soul.” The language of soul is symbol, and symbol shows itself in image—including dream images, fairy tales and myth, or even art, Mary Harrell, Ph.D., explains in her recent book, Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life: Stories from the World Between Matter and Mind. Ultimately, this language of images is soul manifesting in a way people can understand, and without that image-making capacity, people can’t come to terms with the unconscious, Harrell insists.

ghost-girl-window-ss_117156934What inspired Mary to write the book, I wondered when I sat down with her to discuss it not long ago. Mary, a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist who earned her degree in the Clinical program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, began by sharing a an unusual and surprising story. When she was 13 years old, her mother died. Two years later, a self-described “intuitive, inward-leaning spiritual child,” she experienced a “figure” that came into her bedroom, an “incorporeal” being that became more and more embodied as she moved toward Mary in order to hand her a box. Mary knew that the box was meant to be a gift, she explains, but at just 15 years of age, she was understandably terrified. Instinctively, knowing her sister was asleep in another bed in the same room, Mary threw her arms around her sister. Since her sister had a real body, Mary believed that would stop that ethereal woman from approaching her—and indeed, the woman disappeared.

Untitled_design_2.jpgMary had no context to help her understand how to deal with “ghosts,” nor anyone she could talk to about it, she told me—even though that ghostly woman continued to appear to her for 22 years. In order to cope with the terrifying visits, Mary “altered her consciousness” as she explains it, often by turning on lights or putting her arms around her husband in her 20s. All of this woke Mary up from that altered state which allowed the woman to appear, and eventually the woman stopped manifesting.

Mary began her doctorate at Pacifica in her 40s and discovered analytical (or depth) psychologyoffered a powerful lens which enabled her to investigate with “a sense of reality and scholarship” such unusual phenomenon that is often dismissed in the mainstream. She came to realize she wanted to spend her professional life studying about imaginal beings such as the one she had experienced for much of her adult life. Such beings live in the realm between matter and mind, Mary suggests. They are neither fully of the physical world nor of the mind, a realm which philosopher and scholar, Henry Corbin (and others), called the mundus imaginalis. One can enter that realm by allowing an altered state of consciousness.

There are seven stories in Mary’s book, Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life. At Pacifica she found a framework that could deepen the experiences she had, particularly through an understanding of Jungian archetypes. Archetypes have two ends to a spectrum, a physical end and a spirit end, according to Jung. Each of these had a place in Mary’s experience. The spirit end was the “angel” that visited her, and the physical end was the sensation Mary felt when the figure manifested in Mary’s room. Additionally, Mary visually perceived the figure as a Madonna who had a box for her.

Years later, Mary realized it was the image-making capacity of soul that allowed her to perceive the box, and to understand that it represented the gifts a mother would give her child. She credits her education at Pacifica with helping her not only understand the concept of archetypes, but also that each individual experiences archetypes in different ways. Mary holds the belief that, when working with the imaginal, one way to know that you’re not making something up is that there is a deep experience of resonance, a visceral feeling in your body that testifies there is something real at work there. As the stories Mary was writing and their archetypal connects began to resonate with her, Mary knew she could pierce a veil between worlds and make some sense out of the images in the form of a book for those individuals who are open to this invisible realm.

In the Age of Enlightenment, beginning around 1685, Mary told me, a new paradigm emerged in which “science became the great arbiter of legitimacy.” Science insisted certain “truths” might be legitimized if we looked at them through the lens of science, effectively objectifying whatever was under our regard. If we investigate something and it doesn’t fit under that model of reality, she states, it risks being cast aside as something we “made up.”

We are all prone to discount such experiences with the imaginal realm simply because they don’t fit the model of reality to which we tend to adhere, when in reality, in such events, we are experiencing something that lives in that cusp between conscious and unconscious. As a psychotherapist, Mary often invites clients to keep a journal of dreams because, as she points out, even though she and the client are speaking together through the conscious parts of themselves, the unconscious parts of each are also in dialogue. Individuals who have a sufficient amount of “psychological maturity” seem to take to depth-oriented work like a fish to water, she insists, and they discover tremendous richness if they’re willing to take advantage of doing the work.

On the other hand, I note that Robert Romanyshyn, author and now Professor Emeritus at Pacifica, has referred to Mary’s work as a “therapy of culture,” and I ask Mary how her ideas can be applied to our society.

You can’t pay attention to your own integrity, development, liminal experiences or dreams, she asserts, without also becoming open to how those manifest in the culture. When she wrote the stories in the book, for example, Robert Romanyshyn pointed out that she used language that embodied a deep “poetic sensibility.” If you look at the world through the lens of a poet instead of as a “psychologist,” then you are engaging a lens of the humanities, Mary suggests. Her work enabled her to look at that “very real” cultural phenomenon—that of school shootings— as a cultural dream, and to investigate what the psyche is saying about the collective. If we “go back” through an imaginal process and go deeper into the experience, we can actually change the world, Mary confirms.

Mary conveyed her own excitement about a turn she perceives that Pacifica has made toward action in the world—to change the ecological trajectory, or to transform social injustice. If each individual can actually hold a container in which they look at negative aspects of themselves, and require of themselves a certain integrity, this generates a sort of ripple effect, according to Jung. It lends a kind of stability to an individual, simply by being in a room and being centered. People can feel that, Mary insists. To look at psychotherapy with a poetic sensibility and acknowledgment here in the “middle realm” we inhabit (the same place where the dream of school shootings and other such disturbing events coalesce), then the culture itself can benefit, and not just individuals, she affirms. Jung suggested we work with images by staying with the image. The understanding and transformation derived from the process could take seconds, or it could take years, but if we look at an image with a self-reflective ego attitude until we “come to terms with” the unconscious, it will engender “more goodness, more community, and more understanding.”

Like many people who go to Pacifica, Mary notes, she was at a time of extreme transition in her life when she enrolled there. She recognizes how valuable a container it was for her to find and carry out her work, and cites all the faculty there for “a special kind of courage” for doing things others are not willing to do or to acknowledge in the wider world, and she perceives that they each are following a connection with “something deep within them.” Robert Romanyshyn and Veronica Goodchild, both depth psychologists and authors were especially “brilliant and tender teachers” she confides, and Pacifica itself seems to “collect” people who can participate in this “holding” process, in making a container in which this kind of deep and often life-changing work can be done. For some reason, on hearing this, my thoughts turn to the box proffered by ghostly woman so many years ago.

Listen to the full interview with Mary Harrell, Ph.D., here (Approx. 37 mins)

Learn more about the M.A./Ph.D. program in Clinical Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica


mary_harrell.jpg

Mary H. Harrell, B.S., M.Ed., Ph.D., is the author of a new book, Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life: Stories from the World Between Matter and Mind.  It comes as a result of research, personal experience, and professional accomplishments in the area of Jungian-oriented psychotherapy. Dr. Harrell, a licensed psychologist, earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, and her M.Ed. in developmental reading from University of Delaware.  She is Associate Professor Emeritus at State University of New York at Oswego, Curriculum and Instruction Department School of Education. She served as a K-12 teacher and reading specialist for three decades in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and California.  During 8 of those years she also was a consultant and presenter of teacher effectiveness programs, classroom management skills, learning styles, and teaching strategies for Performance Learning Systems, Inc., in California. Learn more at www.MaryHarrellPhD.com

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Pacifica Pos

Spirit, Soul, and the Secular: An Interview with Thomas Moore

Depth Psychology is often associated with “soul.” Many great thinkers in the field have shared some important thoughts on the topic, and perhaps none more so than psychologist and author, Thomas Moore, whose best-selling book, Care of the Soul, is one of the most recognized and appreciated works on the topic. Thomas Moore is speaking at the upcoming Climates of Change conference in celebration of Pacifica’s 40th anniversary in April 2016.

soul.jpgWhen I sat down recently with Thomas to discuss the topic of soul and spirituality, my first request was that he elaborate on the difference between spirit and soul. Moore’s understanding of the topic is rooted firmly in the past, going back to some of the earliest teachers of soul. While he explained his perception of the difference between spirit and soul in some detail, what struck me is that soul thrives on the “holy” and that there is a “non-human” dimension to it.

Most of the work Tom does is rooted in the spiritual traditions or in the depth psychology of both C. G. Jung and James Hillman. Both of these fields generally accept that there’s more going on within us and in the world around us that we can know, understand, or control. As an example, Tom points out that he did not “design” the life he has led, but rather has “discovered” it as he went along, trusting and having faith in life itself, even when he had no idea what was going to happen next. That for him is “not human,” because it is more than any human being can possibly understand.

While you may call one’s unfolding “destiny,” or “fate,” the language or metaphor or poetic language we engage to express the Mysterious is primarily about our feeling of its value and our great reverence toward it is what Thomas calls the “holy.” This describes Moore’s own sense of reverence for the Mysterious which has shaped his life.

In his most recent book, A Religion of One’s Own, Thomas shares some ways to tap back into a sense of spirituality. When the topic arose, I asked Thomas his opinion about the role of formal religion, which seems to be waning in our modern world.

Tom surmises that existing institutions, including religions, need to be re-imagined to suit our times. His definition of religion is a “creative and concrete response to the Mysteries.” Religion is not just an idea or belief, he insists, nor is it about perfecting ourselves. It’s about our relationship to the Mysterious “other.”

path_beach.jpgMoore cites Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, nineteenth-century authors, poets and philosophers whose grasp of religion was, in the sense that Moore describes it, a “personal experience of the holy.” They designed their lives to be more contemplative, Moore suggests, in order to be in relationship to nature and to the mysterious things in life. Thomas also insists secular literature is holy, confirming that he gets religious and spiritual guidance there. Traditional religions have changed in contemporary culture and are now “losing favor” because we are moving into a new world, he says.

Upon hearing this, I think of the alchemical adage that the the “old king” must die in order for alchemical transmutation to begin and so something new can take its place. We are seeing dynamic change on the planet, and so much is in decline— not just religion, but also in the natural world and in social systems around the globe. Allowing ourselves to be open, to be touched by wonder and awe of otherly forces is a critical process. If we don’t surrender, transformation will be forced on us, because it will happen whether we like it or not, I suggest to Thomas.

Moore agrees, invoking a Latin term he utilized as a monk, contemptus mundi, which means not contempt for the world, but rather resistance to the world. To develop a sense of the holy, he says, we have to resist the secular culture and resist the science-based culture of today, as it doesn’t make room for the holy and the “other.” The secular world is not enough for us. In order to have a soulful life, we need to have a sense of the holy. In a paradoxical way, the more we can be in touch with the transcendent and the mysterious, the more human we are, Thomas contends. It touches and opens and feeds our soul in a way that can only happen when we have a connection to a bigger reality, so a “soulful life” corresponds to the life of the holy.

James-Hillman2010.jpgI felt a growing realization as Thomas talked about being human, a reminder that the root of the word human is related to humus which is related to the earth itself. There is no “inside” and “outside,” just as Thomas said. Everything is connected. When I mentioned this to him, he reminded me that James Hillman, with whom Moore was friends for 38 years, believed that soul is in everything. Hillman was greatly interested in the anima mundi, or soul of the world, Moore told me, remembering how Hillman decided to stop his private therapy practice because he wanted to turn his therapeutic attention to the world. For his part, Thomas tells me, he chose to do both—to continue his private practice in order to help the individual, and to write books to help bring an awareness of soul in the world outside of us.

I’m reminded then how Jung talks about how the work must begin with the individual, and as we each do our own work, it can ripple out into the world. It makes me think of how hard it can be at times to actually do the work and how precious and poignant it is when we get overwhelmed by the world and experience dark nights of the soul. I ask Tom if he has insights on how we can deal with these valleys we encounter.

Among other suggestions, one important practice is to express ourselves in poetic language, to find an artistic way, even a beautiful way, to depict how you’re feeling. It’s the beauty that brings soul forward, Thomas maintains.

I think of a lecture not long ago where I heard Thomas talk about a Japanese art form, wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of imperfection, where cracks in pottery are repaired with gold to enhance them and make them beautiful. All of us could benefit from the idea of wabi-sabi when we are in the valleys, or dark nights, Moore expounds, because we are wabi-sabi in that moment. “What if we had the idea of ourselves as essentially and beautifully imperfect?” he asks. That would help us get through those dark moments.

In response, I contemplate how each of us has a different way of dealing with challenges that arise for us, and different ways of tapping into that sense of soul or holy or sacred. How can we introduce the holy more fully into the collective, I wonder.

We are suffering from our secularism, Thomas says. The church and the secular world are split into opposites. That kind of split is an indication of neurosis. Something is wrong. It would help if we didn’t separate what we do on one day of the week from the rest of the week.

Another positive move is to find the holy manifested in the natural world. By doing this, we can make every effort to move against the degradation of the natural world we’re experiencing. Spiritual life requires nature. It also requires time and work—a lifelong process of going through passages and initiations in order to become a mature person, and a psychology that is deeper than what is currently taught in most schools, Thomas suggests.

For Moore, connecting psychology with religions is very valuable. Religions teach a lot about initiation, values, and seeing a vision of the world. Secular psychology doesn’t provide the depth of thought, or “deep culture,” or a connection with the wisdom of the past, all aspects of soul which are so greatly needed for tending the soul of the world. Engaging with depth psychology and finding the holy in our own experience, though, is a beginning. May each one of us make that move toward consciousness in whatever small, precious way we can.

Listen to the full interview with Thomas Moore here (Approx. 33 mins.)

Learn more / Register for Pacifica’s upcoming 40th Anniversary Conference, Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas

moore_thomas.png

Thomas Moore, Ph.D., received his degree in religion from Syracuse University. Before that he was a monk for thirteen years. He is the author of Care of the Soul and nineteen other books, with four new publications coming out in 2016. He has been a psychotherapist for forty years and lectures widely on depth psychology, religion/spirituality and the arts. He was a close friend of James Hillman for 38 years. He is also a musician, translator and writer of fiction. For more information, visit www.careofthesoul.net

bonnie_bright.jpgBonnie Bright, Ph.D., graduated from Pacifica’s Depth Psychology program after defending her dissertation in December 2014. She is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, a free online community for everyone interested in depth psychologies, and of DepthList.com, a free-to-search database of Jungian and depth psychology-oriented practitioners. She is also the creator and executive editor of Depth Insights, a semi-annual scholarly journal, and regularly produces audio and video interviews on depth psychological topics. Bonnie has completed 2-year certifications in Archetypal Pattern Analysis via the Assisi Institute; in Technologies of the Sacred with West African elder Malidoma Somé, and has been extensively involved in Holotropic Breathwork™ and the Enneagram.

*This blogpost was originally posted on Pacifica Post, an official blog site for Pacifica Graduate Institute, on March 17, 2016

Confronting Signs of a Society in Decline: An Interview with Journalist Chris Hedges

When I met Chris Hedges online for our recent interview together, I could see why Pacifica Graduate Institute invited him to speak at their milestone 40th anniversary celebration conference, Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas, which takes place April 21-24, 2016, in Santa Barbara, CA.

As a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hedges carries with him nearly two decades of experience reporting from war-torn countries like Yugoslavia, El Salvador, and also Gaza and South Sudan. In this capacity, he has witnessed the decline and disintegration of multiple societies, a perspective which has surely influenced his capacity regard the decline and potential destruction of our own modern culture that seems severely out of order.

He has been described, more than once, as being “dark,” which, from a depth psychological perspective, I’m quick to assure him, is actually a compliment. Depth psychology insists we look under the surface and in the margins of things in order to better understand them, and then requires that we witness and hold what we find in spite of the darkness from which we might easily prefer to flee. Chris appears to take this in stride: recognizing and carrying the knowledge that contemporary society is facing its own morbidity, in some ways, has fallen squarely on his shoulders.

decay.jpgHedges notes that, as both individuals and civilizations, we encounter cycles of growth, maturation, decadence, and decay, and death. In contemporary society—especially modern society—we can see the signs of morbidity around us, in our boundless use of harmful fossil fuels, in much sought-after expansion beyond the capacity to sustain ourselves, and in the physical decay of the environment and in the places we inhabit.

There are common patterns and common responses to decline and collapse across eras and cultures. While our culture is more technologically advanced in comparison with that of Easter Island, for example, it is arguable that human nature has not really changed. Who was it that cut down the last tree on Easter Island, for example? He wasn’t thinking, Hedges asserts, and neither are we today! Since the Jungian viewpoint is that we are each on our own journey of individuation, increasing consciousness and moving toward wholeness, for me, Chris’s point raises the question as to whether our culture should actually be individuating as well—but is somehow stuck in its process.

How is it that most of us, myself included, are able to go about our daily lives engaging in habits and participating in systems that are destroying the planet, harming each other, and generally contributing to the detriment of society? There is a psychological mechanism by which people seek to blind themselves, Hedges insists. We tend to cling to a belief system that essentially shuts us off, disconnects us from what’s actually happening around us. Those individuals that dare to name the reality often become outcasts in the society. The seers are condemned and vilified.

We carry with us a sort of “sick mania for hope,” says Hedges. If news isn’t positive or hopeful, we dismiss it or deny it. The majority of the population of a civilization in decline simply don’t want to hear the truth about the situation because the future seems too bleak. If you take just the issue of climate change, Chris explains, you can see that we live with two illusions: One, that it doesn’t exist; or two, that we can adapt. While most of us are hiding out in denial, according to Nietzsche, Chris reminds me, it is the role of intellectuals and artists, to see and confront the reality through their work.

“When you don’t confront the perils around you; when you build psychological mechanisms or walls—which we have done with the aid of technology and the aid of culture, then you’re almost guaranteed to commit collective suicide, Hedges tells me, adding, “The consequences …for my children and for future generations is catastrophic because if we don’t radically reconfigure our relationship to each other and to the earth, we are going to have to begin to confront the extinction of the human species.”

Yes, for so many reasons, one can see why some people have described Chris Hedges as “dark.” Having written my own dissertation at Pacifica on a phenomenon I termed “culture collapse disorder,” I spent many long hours contemplating the darkness of some of these same ideas. I remember Buddhist eco-scholar Joanna Macy writing that we, as humans, collectively live in fear of confronting the despair that we all carry—a despair that derives from dread of realizing for the first time that the human species may not pull through.[1]

denial_blog.jpg“There is a kind of subterranean understanding the the ground is shifting in incredibly dramatic ways,” Chris agrees, but we certainly have our ways of coping and shoring up our denial. Our society has built mechanisms of indoctrination around consumerism and entertainment. Technology, he suggests, rather than being a boon for consciousness, has instead served to shut down the most basic understanding of who we are as individuals and as a society.

Hedges introduces the term “atomization,” utilized by twentieth century political philosopher Hannah Arendt to describe how communal organizations (including bowling leagues and stamp clubs) have been obliterated in our culture, and how people have retreated into their own narrow circles and cut themselves off from establishments that made participatory democracy possible. Fewer and fewer people are showing up to churches and historical societies these days, he points out. With atomization comes a dangerous “cult of the self” which seeps into every aspect of our lives—including spirituality.

In the course of our conversation, I am reminded of something James Hillman once penned, writing:

Soul-making must be reimagined. We have to go back before Romanticism, back to medieval alchemy and Renaissance Neoplatonism, back to Plato, back to Egypt, and also especially out of Western history to tribal animistic psychologies that are always mainly concerned, not with individualities, but with the soul of things (“environmental concerns,” “deep ecology,” as it’s now called) and propitiatory acts that keep the world on its course.[2]

It’s a question of a society that honors the sacred—as pre-moderns did, Chris responds when I read Hillman’s words. Nothing has an intrinsic value in a corporate-capitalistic society. Everything has an exclusively monetary value, including human beings and the natural world, which we exploit until exhaustion or collapse. Chris cites Karl Polanyi’s work, The Great Transformation, in which Polanyi states that these societies have built within them their own self-annihilation, and points out that Polanyi, although he is an economist, actually uses the term “sacred” in his writings. In Hedges’ opinion, we have lost both the capacity to understand the sacred and the capacity for reverence for the sacred, resulting in the destruction of the very forces that sustain the earth and the community.

So, I wonder aloud: How do we reconnect with the sacred?

back_to_nature.jpgChris doesn’t hesitate. Severance with natural world is a big part of the problem, he contends, and intrusions like television and Internet have fed the decay, disintegration, desensitivity and numbness of the wider culture. We have to find ways to unplug and find our way back to nature. Nature is what allows us to realize we are not the center of the universe. We’ve also lost connection with the voices of our ancestors, who can free us from the trap of modernity. We need to be able to reflect on what it means to have a life of meaning and to participate within a society. When we’re cut of from those voices, then in many ways we’re cut of from what it means to be human.

I can’t agree more with this diagnosis. It is at the heart of what I understand from my own studies in depth psychology. Our best hope to weather the coming storm and stay centered through the disintegration of society as we know it is to reconnect with those powerful forces that give us context and meaning, and to continually contemplate what Jung himself once wrote: “The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life.”[3]

Listen to the full interview with Chris Hedges here (Approx. 33 mins.)

Learn more / Register for Pacifica’s upcoming 40th Anniversary Conference, Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas

[1] Joanna Macy, “How to Deal with Despair.” Originally published in New Age magazine, June 1979

[2] James Hillman and Michael Ventura, We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—and the World’s Getting Worse, p. 51

[3] C. G. Jung,  Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp. 356-7

 


hedges_chris.png

Chris Hedges, M.Div., whose column is published weekly on Truthdig.com.com, has written 11 books, including the New York Times best seller Days of Destruction, Days of RevoltDeath of the Liberal ClassEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle; I Don’t Believe in Atheists; and the best selling American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His book War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Hedges previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans and was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.


bonnie_bright.jpgBonnie Bright, Ph.D., graduated from Pacifica’s Depth Psychology program after defending her dissertation in December 2014. She is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, a free online community for everyone interested in depth psychologies, and of DepthList.com, a free-to-search database of Jungian and depth psychology-oriented practitioners. She is also the creator and executive editor of Depth Insights, a semi-annual scholarly journal, and regularly produces audio and video interviews on depth psychological topics. Bonnie has completed 2-year certifications in Archetypal Pattern Analysis via the Assisi Institute; in Technologies of the Sacred with West African elder Malidoma Somé, and has been extensively involved in Holotropic Breathwork™ and the Enneagram.

NOTE: This post was originally published on Pacifica Post, the official blog post for Pacifica Graduate Institute, on March 7, 2016

Depth Psychological Approaches to Suffering—Audio Interview & Blog post with Dr. Lionel Corbett

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ― Kahlil Gibran

We are all intimately familiar with suffering. And, while we might wish it away when it is painfully present, it is a normal part of human life, Dr. Lionel Corbett, M.D., Jungian analyst and professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute reminded me when I recently sat down for a depth discussion with him on the topic.

Corbett-WebImage.jpgEtymologically, the word “suffering” comes from two Latin roots: sub—meaning “under”—and ferre, meaning “to carry or bear,” as in “to bear a burden.” But suffering is not necessarily pathological, Lionel insists. The root of the word “suffer” is also the root of the English word “fertile,” so it is also related to the idea of bearing fruit. Psychologically, then, suffering can produce something; it’s not random or meaningless, nor merely something to get rid of. In reality, it can act as either a fertilizer or a poison. It can be harmful or it can be helpful, but we need a framework by which we can understand it.

Dr. Corbett, whose recent book, The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Suffering serves as a foundation for his public workshop (February 12-14, 2016) at Pacifica Graduate Institute, asserts that suffering can be developmentally useful, enabling wisdom and understanding we might not otherwise have had. Suffering can change our worldview, our values, and even reveal aspects of a person’s character that were previously not known. It may also make us more empathic and compassionate, or more appreciative of everyday life.

We might take depression, which is one kind of suffering or “burden,” as an example, Lionel noted. It is common to look at it through a clinical lens as a disorder, but if we engage a spiritual lens, depression may be regarded as a “dark night of the soul” which will eventually enhance our spiritual development. Depending on which lens one uses to regard it, we hold an attitude that will either tend to re-enforce and solidify our usual habits and patterns of thinking and doing, or else open us to change and transformation. Suffering (of any kind) may reveal great capacity for courage and resilience in an individual—or it can result in resentment and bitterness. When we consider it using a depth psychological lens, it seems clear it is not a random process, but rather a critically important aspect in the development of the personality and of what C. G. Jung called “individuation.”

Dr. Corbett offers multiple frameworks for considering suffering; among them, the idea that suffering is a period of liminality—a term anthropologists use to describe a rite of passage. Rites of passage in tribal cultures used to occur in three phases. The middle phase was the liminal on, or the phase of being “betwixt and between,” a period of tremendous uncertainty. Considering that while we are suffering, we are simply between phases, may provide an archetypal context that can help situate us and provide meaning, giving us strength to go on.

Suffering brings up fundamental and often painful questions about individual destiny and about the meaning of life, at times resulting in identity crises or “spiritual emergencies” that arouse questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” or “What have I done to deserve this?” Jung suggested that searching for meaning in suffering ultimately makes bearable what would otherwise be unbearable, and pointed out the need to locate ourselves in a larger relationship to “what is.” “The decisive question for man is,” wrote Jung (1961), “Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. … If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.” (pp. 356-7)

In mid-life, Lionel points out, many of us find ourselves living out the stereotypical scenario where we struggle to climb the ladder, only to find as we get to the top that the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. In times of intense suffering, our established lifelong spiritual traditions may fail to help. Questioning one’s own religious or spiritual beliefs can be one of the functions of suffering, further amplifying the viewpoint that the way one has been living may suddenly seem rather pointless or hollow. This can cause tremendous regret or bitterness, but if one can have a direct experience of the transpersonal unconscious, what Jung refers to as “the numinous,” it can open the door to a new personal form of spirituality.

Where does suffering come from? Believing it is something that is “happening to” us is an egoic perspective, Lionel reminded me. Because the process of suffering comes out of the unconscious, we have no control over it. Jung would say that it comes from what he termed the “Self,” sending signals from the unconscious that something needs attention. While suffering can result from a complex that has taken hold of us, we can consciously and purposefully engage in the process by inquiring into aspects of or own psyche that we have to grapple with. Lionel offered a compelling metaphor, that is to look at this situation as a boat where the sailor cannot change the wind, but he can adjust the sails. The wind is like the wind of the spirit, he notes: things happen that you can’t control. The way you adjust the sails is your reaction to it.

Is suffering optional? Can we avoid suffering altogether, or at least diminish it? Are some people more sensitive to suffering? Is there such a thing as secondhand suffering, where certain individuals suffer more themselves because of what they’re witnessing? These are all questions I posed in our conversation, and some of Lionel’s answers surprised me, but this final question truly brought me back to the implications of working with suffering in a depth psychological way. “How do therapists and helping professionals sustain their work with those who are suffering?”, I wondered aloud to Dr. Corbett, who is a seasoned analyst and clinician.

There is a shamanic way of working with clients, he was quick to suggest, wherein the therapist takes on the suffering of the client, transmutes it, and then “gives it back to them in a more digestible way.”

This, to me, is the blessing of depth psychology. Knowing it is paramount in our individuation process and having support from depth-oriented thinkers and therapists who can help us hold the suffering so it can transmute and transform us.

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,” famously wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations, “and has taught me to understand what [the] heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.”

Listen to the full audio interview with Dr. Lionel Corbett here (27:12 mins)

Learn more about Dr. Lionel Corbett’s upcoming public workshop, “Depth Psychological Approaches to Suffering,” February 12-14, 2016 at Pacifica Graduate Institute.


Sources

Merriam-Webster online dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suffer

Corbett, Lionel. (2015). The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to SufferingAsheville, NC: Chiron.

Dickens, Charles. (2003). Great Expectations. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics.

Jung, C.G. (1961). Memories, Dreams, ReflectionsNew York, NY. Pantheonpp. 356-7.


corbett-lionel.jpg

Lionel Corbett, M.D., trained in medicine and psychiatry in England, and as a Jungian Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. His primary interests are the religious function of the psyche, especially the way in which personal religious experience is relevant to individual psychology; the development of psychotherapy as a spiritual practice; and the interface of Jungian psychology and contemporary psychoanalytic thought. Dr. Corbett is a professor of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is the author of numerous professional papers and four books: Psyche and the Sacred, The Religious Function of the Psyche; The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice; and most recently The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to SufferingHe is the co-editor of Jung and Aging; Depth Psychology, Meditations in the Field; and Psychology at the Threshold.

Outside vs. Inside: A Depth Psychological Perspective on the Planetary Crisis and the Psyche/Nature Split


If the “outside,” as we in modern western cultures generally consider the physical world, is manifesting rather worrisome phenomena in the form of conflict, destruction of nature and home places, and racial and income inequality, we can draw a connection from what is occurring in the physical world to what must be occurring on an inner level, and therefore witness symptoms in the psychological realm as well.

The physical symptoms that are manifesting lie within a larger set of underlying issues, which, in turn, are psychological symptoms of an even larger and more fundamental issue: the sense of separation and loss due to our dearth of what C. G. Jung considered the “feeling function” in the world. This feeling function is often overlooked in lieu of our general propensity to adopt the “thinking function” and to disregard the value (and intelligence) of things in the nature.

Psyche and nature are intrinsic to one another, occupying adjacent positions on the same spectrum of being. In light of this, ecocide—the destruction of home and home places in the physical world—may be seen as a pollution, contamination, or killing of psyche in what we have traditionally considered the inner world. Our brazen destruction of nature is so symbolic of the destruction of the connection with the collective unconscious or what Jung called the Self.

Our wholeness is no longer intact; our psyches are under attack and are, in turn, unable to “house us” properly because of the damage. Deforestation, wildfires, floods, and the like may be witnessed not only in the outer world, but may also be applied to the inner world of psyche. The Cartesian split between nature and psyche can result in a rampant deforestation of the psyche, leaving the ecosystem of the self out of balance, or leave us vulnerable to inundation by the unconscious that can swamp our psychic boundaries, leading to neurosis or even psychosis.

The climate of current culture is changing, and so is our inherent capacity for healing, learning, and individuation, a psychological and spiritual journey of self-realization. At the end of the road, if something does not shift, we will see death of a certain sort—very likely extinction of life as we know it, a transformation to a new way of being in the world: a new culture that arises that is not longer consumer-based, but one based rather on community, reflection, and connection.

Ashok Gangadean (2006), director and founder of the Global Dialogue Institute and professor of philosophy at Haverford College, also stresses that our ego-based cultures are no longer sustainable and are now at a tipping point vis-à-vis a planetary crisis. However, the real crisis, he maintains, is a crisis of consciousness—and we are undergoing a painful transition to increased wisdom and awareness.

The psychological fallout of such dire news is apt to be significant, and some psychologists worry that we, as a culture, are not equipped to deal with it. A report from the National Wildlife Federation (Coyle & Susteren, 2012) suggests that destruction to our planet in the form of the ever-increasing threats posed by climate change “will foster public trauma, depression, violence, alienation, substance abuse, suicide, psychotic episodes, post-traumatic stress disorders and many other mental health-related conditions,” (p. i) and indicates mental and social disorders including depressive and anxiety disorders, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicides will increase dramatically, as will incidences of violence.

Jung (1928/1977) corroborated the connection between the crisis emerging in the so-called “outer” world and the critical correlation with the psyche:

Just as outwardly we live in a world where a whole continent may be submerged at any moment . . . so inwardly we live in a world where at any moment something similar may occur, albeit in the form of an idea, but no less dangerous and untrustworthy for that. Failure to adapt to this inner world is a negligence entailing just as serious consequences as ignorance and ineptitude in the outer world. (p. 204)

Clearly it is vital to reflect on the psychological and spiritual issues underlying our individual and collective pathology when it comes to ecological destruction and environmental distress. Not only is our perception of profound division from the earth and nature a significant issue, but a lack of a generative myth for our time, of connection and communication with ancestors and spirits of place, and the opposing pervasiveness of the “hero archetype”—particularly in the United States, driving us to seek success as individuals at all costs—all contribute to a modern mindset that is often working invisibly beneath the surface of our conscious minds.

It is the work of depth psychology to seek to perceive the underlying issues, endeavoring to discover what is beneath the surface or on the outer margins of a given topic, inquiring more deeply, reading between the lines to begin to understand what is occurring at the root of things. The planetary crisis of potential collapse we now face as human beings can be perceived by first observing and taking time to reflect on the pattern of external physical symptoms, which are inevitably derived from underlying psychological and spiritual issues we generally maintain both as individuals and as a culture.

Then, it is imperative to shift our gaze to another, deeper layer, one that exists beneath the surface level of the manifest physical symptoms of a world in crisis and begin to derive the psychological issues that are at work. How can we shift a gaze we are not quite aware of in daily life? If you feel the call to make a change in your own life—or make a difference—seek out the aid of the practitioners listed here on DepthPsychologyList.com. They can help you understand what the greater Self is trying to communicate to reprogram ways of being.

###

References

Coyle, K. J., & Susteren, L. V. (2012). The psychological effects of global warming on the United States. http://www.nwf.org/pdf/Reports/Psych_Effects_Climate_Change_Full_3_23.pdf

Gangadean, A. (2006). A planetary crisis of consciousness: The end of ego-based cultures and our dimensional shift toward a sustainable global civilization. World Futures: The Journal Of General Evolution, 62(6), 441-454. doi: 10.1080/02604020600798627

Jung, C. G. (1977). The relations between the ego and the unconscious. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. C. Hull Trans.) (2nd ed., Vol. 7, pp. 121-241). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1928)

Culture Collapse Disorder: Can Depth Psychology Help Us Cope?

colony collapse disorder vs culture collapse disorderEarth’s inhabitants are in peril largely of our own making. We are, consciously or unconsciously, systematically destroying the our homeplaces, habitats, ecosystems, and above all, the only home we collectively know: Earth. Reports are emerging daily about the implications of human impact on our environment, presenting dire warnings about pollution, urban development, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, natural disasters, and displacement. The tally of global losses grows daily as we perpetrate ecological destruction through our relentless consumption of the earth’s dwindling resources; through rampant use of toxins, chemicals, and pesticides; and through deforestation, erosion, and devastation of natural ecosystems, wetlands, rivers, and oceans.

The unchecked demands of a burgeoning human population on the planet are initiating conditions that are simply not sustainable. Combined with what might be called our cultural “modern mindset,” an ongoing belief (perhaps primarily at an unconscious level) by a large part of the earth’s population that resources are unlimited, that the way we live is the only way, and that everything will work out somehow, we are, as humans, at a precarious tipping point. In fact, more than thirty years ago (in 1979), ecopsychologist and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy noted that for the first time in recorded history, we are deluged with data that suggest our own culture, species, and planet may not survive. If we turn to nature for insight, it’s hard to miss the growing number of extinctions of so many species; one of the most notably, perhaps, the mass die-off of honeybees that are abandoning their hives to certain death, a phenomenon termed “Colony Collapse Disorder.”

Some scientists suggest that honeybees may be acting as the proverbial canary in a coal mine, foreshadowing the imminent demise of the human race as we plummet toward a colony collapse of our own. In his 2008 book, A Spring Without Bees, Michael Schacker muses on the mythical as well as biological implications of CCD, referring to it as a potential Civilization Collapse Disorder. I have simultaneously considered it as Culture Collapse Disorder, an appropriate name for a culture demonstrating ominous symptoms that it can no longer sustain itself.

When we consider the history of humankind, it is not difficult to trace an inevitable path to the significant crisis we face today as culture and a species. The word “culture,” related to the word “cultivate,” literally means the “tilling of the land.” Since approximately ten thousand years ago when a human first turned the earth with a sharp stick in order to plant a seed, to cultivate it, we have not ceased developing new techniques to sustain our burgeoning numbers. From the scientific revolution to the industrial revolution to current day when technology and globalization are the new normal, we have increasingly sought to manipulate nature, embracing rational thought and moving further from a worldview that nature is a community of which we, as human animals, are a part.

Merrium Webster defines “culture” as the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior.” Certainly humanity as a whole may be considered a culture in and of itself in the way we interact with one another, follow customs and traditions, and utilize our capacity to think and take logical action. Culture may also be divided countless ways to reflect, for example, modern versus ancient, third-world versus first-world, or indigenous versus European or western. However, with the coming of globalization and a dramatic increase in what we often refer to as “consumer culture,” the distinctions and contrasts in some cases are becoming harder to discern.

From a research standpoint, culture, human culture, and the domination and escalation of so-called “western” or “consumer” culture have been topics of much attention. The various demands of the masses including food, water, shelter, energy, and healthcare, as well the challenges presented by science, industry, technology, and globalization, have all had their share of scrutiny.

Regarding sustainability, some well-known research has been published on the concept of “collapse,” most notably, perhaps, from Jared Diamond (in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed) who traces a history of the rise and fall of civilizations over millennia. With the growing evidence of environmental distress, scientists, futurists, and other experts are now rapidly producing vast amounts of research on sustainability and the escalating ecological plight of the planet, a result of ecocide and climate change specifically, both of which are a result of the impact of culture on nature and of our modern mindset that allows us to engage in ongoing consumption and destruction of the planet without changing course. 

In addition, a growing number of studies are focusing on displacement and the destruction of homeplaces caused by ecological devastation like pollution, erosion, drought, desertification, and rising sea levels. Finally, much attention and debate is being turned to social issues including civil, sexual, and humanitarian rights; socio-economic challenges; the increase in poverty and the emerging gap between the rich and the poor; access to healthcare and the effects of decades of drug development on humans and the environment; and what appear to be epidemic increases in diagnosed cases of mental and emotional health conditions like depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and autism to name a few. In response to these insidious challenges, an increasing number of social scientists and psychologists are now investigating the psychological effects of these critical culturo-ecological issues and the underlying systemic relationships between humans and humans, humans and society (culture), and society and nature.

Given this, it is impossible not to contemplate whether the number of problematic symptoms manifesting so rampantly in our culture warrant the diagnosis of “disorder.” In general terms, “disorder” alludes to a disturbance of the regular or normal functions of a process or event. In the arena of mental health, we understand this to be a psychological abnormality or a pattern of behavioral or psychological symptoms that impact multiple life areas and/or create distress for the person experiencing these symptoms. Indeed, with increasing signs of distress (manifest on both a conscious and unconscious level) among many of earth’s inhabitants—and the intimations of more to come—it is critical we delve into the underlying causes of our dis-ease.

Few are engaging depth psychology to inquire into the oft invisible or unexamined causes of a culture in crisis and to assess the patterns at play. Utilizing a depth psychological lens to study this fundamental eco-psycho-spiritual crisis can allow us to gaze beneath the surface of everyday habits, attitudes, and outcomes, exploring beyond the symptoms to ascertain the roots of issues that have potentially brought us collectively to brink of disaster, or the urgent need for transition to new attitudes and actions at the very least. 

Using aspects of mythology, indigenous understanding, archetypal psychology, psychologies of liberation, and Jungian thought may serve not only to diagnose and devise a “treatment plan” to engage with the potential cataclysm at hand, but might also enable us to find ways to come into relationship with it. Ultimately, this process could provide a blueprint by which we can individually and collectively begin to cope with the consequences and fallout of what has already occurred and what is yet to come: the grief, sadness, anger, and despair, of what we have done to ourselves, our homeplaces, and our ultimate home, the earth.

Rediscovering the Authentic Self: Jung’s Concept of Individuation in Depth Psychology

Berman - Book: Coming to Our SensesIn his fascinating book, Coming to our Senses, historian and social critic Morris Berman introduces the terms alienation or confiscation as a “rupture in the continuum of life.” Alienation is experienced as the feeling of an abyss where a sense of self or self-identity is missing or where the self does not feel safe. Many psychologists have speculated that this abyss or gap in the experience of the self may be increased or intensified by a lack of positive mirroring in the infancy stage.

Mirroring, which Berman defines as “the growth of self-recognition through the medium of other people” includes both the touch and gaze of others. Donald Winnicott, a British psychoanalyst, pediatrician, and pioneer in the clinical research of mirroring, developed object relations, the understanding of our separate self, or ego self, in relation to other objects or people around us. He suggested it starts at the time of birth because the infant develops his sense of identity based on what he sees mirrored back to him in his mother’s face. Thus, the quality of the mirroring experience from the mother figure is an important factor in a child’s growing sense of identity or self.

Because, as infants, virtually every one of us found ourselves wanting in some way–perhaps yearning for our caretaker who wasn’t physically available one hundred percent of the time to respond when we cried out of hunger, discomfort or a need for attention–we learned to experience ourselves as separate beings from everything and everyone around us. This led us to an understanding of an “Other” who is “not-me.” We also began to interpret the separate entity as withholding, and thus the universe as not generous, friendly, or giving.

Berman makes reference to an essay by Jean Liedloff, “The Continuum Concept,” in which he describes how the Yequana Indians of Brazil keep their babies in a sling carried by someone the entire first two years of their lives. (See some great photos of various indigenous mothers with babies in slings here).

Berman notes that due to the continuous contact and attention, he babies do not experience the same sense of rupture or empty space in themselves that others of us in the modern western world do and suggests that we spend our lives unconsciously trying to repair the rupture or find the part of ourselves that is missing and has not been reinforced.

Baby aware of herself in a mirror

The rupture in the human experience is crucial and devastating in the development of ego. According to the French school of philosophy, the birth of one’s identity also marks the birth of alienation. At a very early age, we begin to realize there is a separate self which is experienced kinesthetically–we know it by “feeling”– and an “Other” self that is experienced only visually–that is, by what we see in the mirror and by understanding that is how others see us. Sometimes this occurs for a child literally because he sees himself in a mirror and begins to be cognizant of the fact that he can be “seen” by others (Others) who do not experience him as he kinesthetically experiences himself from “within.” Sometimes it is a slower process in which he begins to note discrepancies in how he feels and how others respond.

Whether a gradual realization or a sudden understanding, once the young child notices that the two “selves” are not perceived in the same way by Others, a tiny child with developing awareness is forced to choose between the two ways of being. In order to survive in society, he must adopt a way of being in the world that is reliant on how Others perceive him rather than how he feels he actually is. He is forced to shift away from a way of being that is kinesthetic in how he perceives himself –to relying on a way of being in the world that is visual based on how he is seen by Others. At the same time, then, he shifts from an interior way of being to an external or social way of being, and thus, as Winnicott says, from an authentic self to one that is false. This “false” self becomes our persona and often becomes a sort of “shell” we maintain for most of our lives.

Similarly, C.G. Jung understood each of us to be driven by an ego self, an autonomous part of our psyche that helps us survive and get things done. However, the ego is only a limited part of larger, more whole organism Jung called the Self with a capital S. The ego that accompanies us in ordinary daily life is only a minimal conscious part. What many in depth psychology refer to as the “Big ‘S’ Self” is the unified whole of us, the parts that are beyond our ego awareness. We cannot know the contents of the Self because they are outside of our conscious awareness. But, because the Self is believed to be whole and perfect, it emits constant instinctual urges for an individual to become unified or whole with the Self, a process Jung called individuation.

Depth psychotherapy and depth oriented practices can help us dig through patina of layers that have built up over time as a natural part of the human process of development. Only as we begin to become more self aware and rediscover more of that authentic self–and perhaps grow comfortable enough in our own skin through self-reflection, somatic practices, or psychotherapy–do we find ourselves able to shed some of the persona we have presented to the world and relax into a more true way of being.

Only then can we start to question the deeply embedded beliefs and values we have assimilated as part of our culture, community, or family we grew up with, creating an opening into the unknown–one through which the “Big ‘S’ Self” can penetrate and begin to engage, resulting in what Jung called “individuation.”

“I use the term ‘individuation,’” writes Jung, “to denote the process by which a person becomes a psychological ‘in-dividual,’ that is, a separate, indivisible unity or ‘whole.’”

May we all learn to relax our deep seated conditioning and see what authentic essential being resides beneath…

Jung, Individuation, and Shamanism

 

According to historian  philosopher Mircea Eliade,  has been around for millennia, practically as long as humans have existed. In recent decades, the archetype of  has experienced a rebirth. With growing consciousness, more  more individuals are recognizing spontaneously  consistently what our indigenous ancestors knew: that there is a divine intelligence at work in the universe, a life force of love  light, of which, by nature  birthright, we are an integral part.

Anne Baring (2007), psychologist  author, notes that C.G.  himself commented on the capacity of humans to respond to this greater force, saying:

The archetypal image of the wise man, the saviour or redeemer, lies buried dormant in man’s unconscious since the dawn of culture; it is awakened whenever the times are out of joint  a human society is committed to a serious error…These primordial images are … called into being by the waywardness of the general outlook. When conscious life is characterised by one-sidedness  by a false attitude, they are activated…”instinctively” … in the dreams of individuals the visions of artists  seers. (Read a great post on Alchemy  the Hermetic Tradition: Mircea Eliade here).

In her article, “Sacred Plants  the Goddess”, Susana Valadez quotes the late Mazatec shamaness, Maria Sabina, who says, “There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby,  invisible.  this is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits  the saints, a world where everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own.

By contrast, modern humankind in western consumer-based societies seems destined to live our lives in a sterile box, limited on all sides by stark white walls, traveling forward in one direction  marking progress by the number of strides we take in any given day. Little do we know there is something that surrounds us, a force that supersedes our wildest imaginings; a creative wellspring that, if we were to partake of it, would allow us to fulfill our greatest potential  to remember once  for all who we really are.

We can taste that supernal realm through ritual, trance, chanting,  calling upon energies that inhabit that realm,  by using the mala as a map to locate our self in relation to the sacred realm  to create a practice that will sustain us  allow us to grow evolve. If we can but learn to surrender, to offer our lives as we know them in spontaneous offering to the powers that be, to make a mixed feast for the hungry ghosts, we will gain entry into the world beyond  that will give meaning to the lives we live.

Ritual is a critical aspect of . Vicki Noble (Motherpeace, 2001) says, “ritual happens, …creating the space for it to happen is really all one has to do.” The magic of ritual lies in its structure  ability to channel energies in a direction of focused intention positive growth. In other words, if we will but open ourselves  create space in our lives  then be observant, regarding the magic around us, it will unfold.

Our ancestors have known for millennia the power of ritual. They observed that natural rhythms of nature  paused to honor the subsequent openings of the window between our perceived reality  the reality of the spiritual realm which occurred naturally on specific days of the year based on the lunar calendar. Solstices  cross-quarter days (like the one coming up on February 2nd!) offer up age-old opportunities to tap into the magical realm of power when the veil is thin. Specifically, Imbolc (also known from its Celtic roots as St Brighid’s Day or Clemas) is the day halfway between Winter Solstice  the Spring Equinox. Thus it is a powerful day of prophecy transformation, a time when ritual celebration of healing  rebirth can bring us renewed life  wholeness. Through dedicated ritual, we can approach the portals that connect this world with the one beyond  allow the beauty  creativity to shine through  give meaning to our lives.

Musician Gabriel Roth describes the state from which humankind must break away if we are to experience the ecstasy  knowledge of the spiritual realm. “The soul starves,” she says. “Our bodies get locked into patterns. We get stiff with repetition. Our hearts also become rigidified into automatic routines. We’re soon numb, insensitive to what we really feel.  our minds are quickly blinded by unquestioned assumptions, guiding attitudes that don’t allow us to see what’s out there, let alone explore the world’s fullness” (p. 13). She speaks of “awakening the shamanic dimension of ourselves” through movement  dance.

Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux medicine man, suggested: “Peace comes in within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe  all its powers,  when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan Tanka [The Great Spirit],  that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” , too, believed in individuation, a coming into wholeness with the self, a feat made easier, perhaps, through alignment with nature  forces greater than our every day ego selves.

If you have an interest in shamanic practices  ways in which you can be more truly yourself while honoring ancient practices, delve in. Two of the best books I’ve read which correlate ian psychology   are “   in Dialogue: Retrieving Soul / Retrieving the Sacred” by C. Michael Smith, Ph.D,  “  the Psychology of C.G. : The Great Circle” by Robert E. Ryan. You may also have interest in an essay of mine entitled “The Shamanic Perspective: Where ian Thought  Archetypal Converge.” There are also many shamanic practitioners /or therapists who integrate shamanic work into their practice listed here onDepthPsychologyList.com.