Love and Individuation

Love and Individuation

(I wrote the following for the Jung Society of Utah blog. Click here to see it on their website!)

“Nothing is possible without love…for love puts one in a mood to risk everything.”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung used the term individuation to describe the “process of integrating the conscious with the unconscious for the purpose of realizing or fulfilling one’s talents and potentialities.” Individuation usually begins with a crisis, often death or some other loss. “The shattering, emotional power of such crises breaks down our ego identification, causing us to question our sense of self and our life’s meaning.”1

Love as a Crisis

That same “shattering, emotional power” may also be found in love. Jung considered Eros to be a “kosmogonos, a creator and father-mother of all higher consciousness.” He wrote, “we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic love.” Falling in love “can shatter normal ego identifications. Through such experiences of ego death, we awaken to a more expansive way of being.”1

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Our relationships may reflect contents of our unconscious. (Image via aestheticblasphemy.com).

A Mirror for the Soul

In The Red Book, Jung wrote that he found his soul again “only through the soul of the woman.”2 He later explained that unconscious contents are first met in relationship with a partner: “This urge to a higher and more comprehensive consciousness … if it is to fulfill its purpose, needs all parts of the whole, including those that are projected onto a ‘You.’”3, 4

Often, it can seem easier to love someone else than to love oneself. We may be more willing to see and accept both the light and shadow aspects of another than to acknowledge those same aspects within ourselves. However, Jung said, “We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life,” meaning that any light or shadow traits we see in others are merely a reflection of those traits within us.

twisting-love-ii-original-painting-by-madart-megan-duncanson

Love can be a transformative process of mutual individuation. (Image: “Twisting Love” via paintinghere.com).

Both Are Transformed

Sometimes it is through loving another, including their shadow aspects, that we learn to accept and even love those same shadow aspects in ourselves. “If one’s partner is ‘truly loved,’ then that human being becomes a ‘representative of the unconscious.’ Love is a mediator, circulating energy both outwardly and inwardly.”4

This type of love, which breaks through “the illusory maya of unconscious projections,” could be considered “a process of mutual individuation.”4 If the tension of opposites can be held, a “third kind of relationship” can be formed, which Jung called a “Golden Thread.”4 He considered this type of relationship to be “the only lasting one, in which it is as though there were an invisible telegraph wire between two human beings.”4

Jung said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Through the transformative reaction of love, one may discover “the distinction between what one really is and what is projected into one, or what one imagines oneself to be.”4 Understanding that distinction contributes greatly to individuation.

Books Cited

  1. Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep, Volume 1. Ryan Hurd and Kelly Bulkeley.
  2. The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition. C.G. Jung.
  3. The Psychology of the Transference. C.G. Jung.
  4. Jung in Love: The Mysterium in Liber Novus. Lance S. Owens. PDF provided by the author here.

Andrew Harvey and Sacred Activism

Andrew Harvey and Sacred Activism

(I wrote the following for the Jung Society of Utah blog about the marvelous Andrew Harvey, a gifted mystic, poet, and storyteller. I had the privilege of meeting him while he was in Salt Lake City for a lecture and workshop with the Jung Society of Utah, and he was remarkably kind to me. I still remember our conversation as I was leaving a wonderful dinner with him and some folks from the Jung Society. It was a freezing cold February night as we stood outside on the porch as he called me a “practical visionary” and emphatically told me, “Trust yourself!” (among other things). I have tried to take his advice to heart.)

“As the individual is not just a single, separate being, but by his very existence presupposes a collective relationship, it follows that the process of individuation must lead to more intense and broader collective relationships and not to isolation.”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung believed in the importance of both the individual and society. In Jung’s view, society is necessary for human existence and individuality, while individuals “express the subconscious aspirations of the collective of [their] time, giving conscious expression to the needs and aspirations of the society through [their] actions. The individual is indispensable for human accomplishment and for the development of the society.”

How does this idea apply to our world today, and how can we as individuals create positive change within ourselves and society as a whole?

A Force of Compassion in Action

The Jung Society of Utah will welcome Andrew Harvey to Salt Lake City in February.
The Jung Society of Utah will welcome Andrew Harvey to Salt Lake City Feb. 5th and 6th.

Author, poet, and mystic Andrew Harvey offers an answer to this question though Sacred Activism, which he describes as “a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world.” Through Sacred Activism, concerned individuals can work together to address the economic, political, and spiritual crises the world is currently facing. According to Harvey, “The large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants.” He envisions “an army of practical visionaries and active mystics who work in every field and in every arena to transform the world.”

Divinity through Shadow

How can individuals become “practical visionaries?” Harvey has spoken of the importance of facing the shadow, both on an individual and collective level, in order to access the compassion and inspiration needed to face the global crises we are confronted with:

“You have to do shadow work and confront your own darkness. If you can do so with trust, humility and surrender, you discover another level of unconditional compassion…When light and shadow are united, we experience a passion of enlightened compassion that longs in every moment to express itself in radical transformative heart-filled, heart-inpired, just action.”

Harvey believes that through integrating our own shadow, we are able to realize the divine within us, and all around us, which empowers us to become effective agents of change:

balance“When you wake up to the Divine Consciousness within you and your divine identity, you wake up simultaneously to the Divine Consciousness appearing as all other beings… Only from a realization of the divine identity of all things can grow the kind of humility, the kind of tenderness, the kind of wonder, the kind of awe and the kind of respect that are necessary for human beings to live in peace with each other, for human beings to live in balance with their environment, and for human beings really to work with the divine forces of love and knowledge to recreate the world in the image of God.”

Sacred Marriage Weekend: Lecture and Workshop

In February, the Jung Society of Utah will welcome Andrew Harvey for a special Friday evening event and Saturday workshop. In the Friday lecture, Harvey will describe his vision of the Sacred Marriage drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Sufi sources. He will end his presentation with his vision of Sacred Activism, the most necessary sacred marriage for our time.

In the Saturday workshop, Harvey will share the tools that he believes are most essential to realizing the Sacred Marriage. He will present three sacred practices that enable the practitioner to experience union and unconditional compassion. He then explore the mystery of the shadow on both an individual and global level. The day will end with his vision of love and action, and the five forms of Sacred Service that need to be fused to empower individuals to become agents of change in our chaotic time.

Friday, February 5th: Evening Presentation at Libby Gardner Hall, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Saturday February 6th: Workshop at the Officers Club building, University of Utah Campus, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Purchase tickets here for this transformative weekend with Andrew Harvey.

Jung and the Inner World

Jung and the Inner World

(The following post was originally written for the Jung Society of Utah blog. As I was struggling with how to end this article, I randomly opened Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections and came across his quote about the importance of the outer world. It was a nice synchronicity.)

“This inner world is truly infinite, in no way poorer than the outer one. Man lives in two worlds.”
– C.G. Jung

In Carl Jung’s memoir, he wrote of experiencing an “other,” inner reality, in addition to the outer world. He believed in balancing identification with the external world by having inner experiences of the psyche, writing, “I can understand myself only in the light of these inner happenings.” But what does this mean? How did Jung connect to this inner world?

Reality of PsycheThe Reality of the Psyche

Jung wrote: “What most people overlook or seem unable to understand is the fact that I regard the psyche as real.” He defined the psyche as “the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious,” and considered it a “self regulating system, just as the body is,” with a structure that is accessible through empirical methods.

Jung considered himself “first and foremost an empiricist.” He stated that, “the ‘reality of the psyche’ is my working hypothesis, and my principal activity consists in collecting factual material to describe and explain it.” In order to collect this material, Jung paid attention to things that seemed to be expressions of the psyche. This information included dreams, daydreams, fantasy, and things in the outer world that seemed to reflect internal situations. He later developed a technique called active imagination in order to further explore the inner world.

Dreams

Dream treeJung believed that dreams originate in the unconscious, and could provide information about conscious and unconscious mental processes. He said, “The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche…in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night.”

Lucid dreams may offer an even more powerful way to access the inner world. Dream expert Robert Waggoner says that lucid dreaming feels “like you have become an inner astronaut, exploring the inner space of dreaming.” He notes, “the lucid dream environment often looks, feels, and sounds just as you would expect in the waking world.” Through his years of experience with this inner realm, he has found that “the exploration of the psyche holds many of the same lessons for all lucid dreamers.”

Active Imagination

Jung shared the belief that there were lessons to be found in the inner world, and that it held information that was outside of his conscious awareness. He developed a technique he called active imagination as a way to consciously dialogue with the unconscious. Jung found that he was able to access “those contents of the unconscious which lie, as it were, immediately below the threshold of consciousness and, when intensified, are the most likely to erupt spontaneously into the conscious mind.”

Jung called active imagination “the royal road to the unconscious,” and made extensive use of it in his explorations of the inner world. As he did so, he kept a careful clinical record of his observations, compiled into what is now known as The Red Book.

Two Worlds

Two worldsWhile Jung found inspiration in the inner world, he also valued the grounding and stability offered by the outer world, appreciating the balance it brought to his life: “When I was working on the fantasies…it was most essential for me to have…a counterpoise to that strange inner world. My family and my profession remained the base to which I could always return, reassuring me that I was an actually existing, ordinary person.”

As Jung found, interacting with the inner world can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. We can do the same by paying attention to dreams and daydreams, noticing what we imagine when our mind wanders, and being aware of synchronicities. What message might the inner world have to offer you?

Addiction: A Jungian Perspective

Addiction: A Jungian Perspective

(I wrote the following post for the Jung Society of Utah blog. The free workshop on addiction at beautiful Cirque Lodge in Orem, UT was a wonderful and highly informative event.)

“[Addiction is] the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness.”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung was highly influential in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Jung intuited that those suffering from addiction were actually in search of the numinous, or a spiritual experience associated with the divine. Jung shared this insight in a letter to Bill W., one of the founders of AA.

A “Hopeless” Case

Rowland H. (recoveredalcoholic.blogspot.com).
Rowland H. (Image from recoveredalcoholic. blogspot.com).

In 1926, Jung treated an American patient named Rowland H. for alcoholism. However, Rowland relapsed soon after leaving Zurich. He returned to seek Jung’s help. Jung told Rowland that neither medicine nor psychiatry had a cure for alcoholism, but explained, “Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.” Jung described such experiences as “huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.” However, Jung cautioned that these experiences are “comparatively rare.”

Many years later, Jung received a letter from Bill W., explaining that Rowland had joined a religious movement called the Oxford Groups, and there he found “a conversion experience that released him for the time being from his compulsion to drink.” Rowland carried this message of inner change to his friend, Ebby T., who then carried it to Bill, who co-founded AA. In his letter to Jung, Bill wrote, “This astonishing chain of events actually started long ago in your consulting room, and it was directly founded upon your own humility and deep perception.”

“Spiritus Contra Spiritum”

Jung treated many alcoholic patients at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich (Image from Wikimedia).
Jung treated many alcoholic patients at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich (Image from Wikimedia).

In his reply to Bill W., Jung wrote, “You see, “alcohol” in Latin is “spiritus” and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.” Jung believed it is necessary to replace the addictive substance with a transcendent experience that the individual finds more satisfying. He explained that this type of experience “can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism.”

Psychologist James Hillman phrased it more simply: “You don’t really want the alcohol. If you can find out what you really want, if you can find your true desire, then you’ve got the answer to your addiction.”

Would you like to learn more about addiction and recovery? Attend a FREE workshop at Cirque Lodge on Saturday, November 14, 2015. In this workshop, we will explore the roots of Jung’s influence and the practical application of these insights in addiction treatment today.

The presenters will be: Burton Fullmer CMHC, CPW, Beverly Roesch, LCSW, SUDC and Machiel Klerk, LMFT

Read about the presenters HERE.

All mental health professionals are eligible to receive three (3) complimentary CEs.

Details

When: Saturday November 14th, 2015
Time: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
Where: Cirque Lodge Orem, 777 N. Palisade Drive, Orem, Utah 84097

THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. NO NEED TO RESERVE A SPOT. SIGN IN WHEN YOU ARRIVE.

This event is sponsored by Trace Minerals Research.

Robert Waggoner on the Transformative Potential of Lucid Dreaming

Robert Waggoner on the Transformative Potential of Lucid Dreaming

(I had the good fortune to interview Robert Waggoner about the lucid dreaming for the Jung Society of Utah blog. He has a rare gift for lucid dreaming, is a talented speaker, and is also a truly kind person.)

Author and dream expert Robert Waggoner will share his insights about lucid dreaming at the Jung Society of Utah’s spectacular season opener the weekend of October 2, 2015. He answers some questions about lucid dreaming and its extraordinary potential for advancing personal and spiritual growth in the interview below.

Robert Waggoner, Dream Expert.
Robert Waggoner, Dream Expert.

When did you first discover lucid dreaming?

In high school, I read in Carlos Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan that one can become consciously aware in a dream by finding one’s hands. I decided to try it, and, within three nights, I managed to induce my first lucid dream. It was a long, deep, and profound experience.

In what ways have you used lucid dreaming to help you live a more meaningful life?

When you are consciously aware in a lucid dream and look back at your waking life, you see it in a new way – much like the lunar astronauts looked back at the blue ball of Earth hanging in the vastness of space. The experience changes your perspective. If you take it far enough, you can discover a new depth and dimension to waking life.

Lucid dreaming gives perspective to your waking life. Image by Scientific American.
Lucid dreaming gives perspective to your waking life. Image by Scientific American.

You begin to see that you can bring the ideas and insights of lucid dreaming into your waking life to achieve more ‘lucid living.’ You begin to see experience as a creation, and you learn to examine the underlying assumptions and belief patterns that prop up your version of experienced reality. If you allow it to, lucid dreaming gradually reveals your limiting beliefs and expectations, your ‘issues’ and shadow, as well as your potential, depth, and breadth.

What are some of the psychological benefits of lucid dreaming?

People have used lucid dreaming to overcome PTSD, major and minor fears/phobias, generalized anxiety, obsessive habits, and more. Lucid dreaming truly seems a revolutionary psychological tool.

Lucid dreaming is an amazing psychological tool to help people. Photo by Klontak.
Lucid dreaming is an amazing psychological tool to help people. Photo by Klontak.

What can Jung Society attendees look forward to with respect to your presentation and workshop in October?

I look forward to returning to Salt Lake City to present some of the more recent research on lucid dreaming, as well as the evolving edge of its potential. It’s an exciting time!

The first day of the workshop, I’ll explain the various induction techniques for lucid dreaming, as well as how to stabilize the lucid dream, so you can explore it more thoughtfully, or even begin to experiment and learn about the hidden structural elements and principles behind the lucid dream.

The second day, I intend to explore personal goals of the attendees, as well as discuss preferred practices for areas such as emotional or physical healing, spiritual growth, and accessing creativity. We will also discuss how to consciously engage the unseen larger awareness within the lucid dream.

When I offer workshops, I call my approach ‘heart centered’ lucid dreaming, since I encourage people to pay attention to what comes in the lucid dream and the inner intuitions there. It comes for a purpose – and it should not be ignored as one chases some ‘ideal’.

Register at the links below for this transformational weekend with Robert Waggoner.

Saturday only: Early bird discount only $79 before Sept 20th, after $99 (incl. 5 CEs)
Sunday only: Early bird discount only $79 before Sept 20th, after $99 (incl. 5 CEs)
Saturday and Sunday: Early bird discount only $150 before Sept 20th, after $185 (incl. 10 CEs)

Mandalas: Symbols of the Self

Mandalas: Symbols of the Self

(This was my very first post for the Jung Society of Utah blog. Soon after I submitted it for publication, I had the most lovely dream about meeting Jung, chatting with him, and giving him a hug.)

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time… Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: … the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well, is harmonious.”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung used the Sanskrit word mandala, meaning “magic circle,” to describe the circular drawings he and his patients created. While mandalas have been used throughout many ancient traditions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, Jung is credited with introducing these images to the Western world. Jung studied mandalas extensively, finding a great deal of potential symbolic meaning in them. He intimately associated them with psychological and spiritual health.

Mandalas are beautiful images that have strong symbolic meaning. Image by deviantart.com.
Mandalas are beautiful images that have strong symbolic meaning. Image by deviantart.com.

An Archetype of Wholeness

Jung created his first mandala in 1916, before learning about the Eastern tradition. And he used mandalas as an important component of his work with patients, as well as in his own personal development. Believing that mandalas were archetypal  forms representing the Self, or total personality, he referred to them as “archetypes of wholeness.” Jung discovered that dreaming of or creating mandalas is a natural part of the individuation process, and he encouraged his patients to create them spontaneously. When a mandala image appeared in a patient’s artwork or dreams, he found it usually indicated progress toward new self-knowledge.

“The severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder of the psychic state–namely through the construction of a central point to which everything is related,” Jung stated. He believed that the circle invites conflicting parts of our nature to appear and allows for the unification of opposites in order to represent the sum of who we are. He found this sense of wholeness was reflected in the lives of his patients, as he was able to trace the progression of an individual’s psychological recovery by correlating it with the coherence of the mandalas they drew.

 

Carl Jung found that patients' mandalas intuitively expressed their need for wholeness. Image courtesy of Clinical Psych Reading.
Carl Jung found that patients’ mandalas intuitively expressed their need for wholeness. Image courtesy of Clinical Psych Reading.

Jung’s patients created mandalas intuitively, and he observed that patients with no prior knowledge of mandalas repeatedly created very similar images throughout the course of their progress. This enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.

Some of the common symbols Jung encountered as he interpreted mandalas included circular or egg-shaped formations, flowers or wheels, circles within a square or the reverse, which Jung was particularly interested in. He frequently saw the number four or its multiples in mandalas, which was often represented by squares, crosses or suns or stars with four or eight rays. Discovering what these symbols meant to patients gave Jung insight into their personalities, challenges and more.

A Sacred Space for the Self

Jung believed that creating mandalas offered a “safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness”, providing a sacred space into which we can invite the Self. He also noticed that creating mandalas had a calming, focusing effect on his patients’ psychological states. I’ve personally observed this to be true as I’ve drawn and colored my own mandalas.

When we create mandalas, we are making a personal symbol that represents who we are at the moment. Would you like to see a reflection of your Self? You can color a mandala or try drawing one of your own. Then, check out how to interpret your mandala by visiting this site!