Archive for July, 2012
As I mentioned a number of days ago, I will be posting here very little for the next while. I have built a second blog site which will be my “main” focus for this “time out” from Through a Jungian Lens. The new site is called It’s All About The Journey. The time out at this site is being matched by a time out from the analytic process that I have been engaged in over the past five months in Calgary. The intensity of analysis since my arrival in Calgary has seen me do a full year of analysis, assuming one session per week. The time out has a definite purpose, that of re-entering daily life. During the time out I will find what has shifted in terms of contact with others, with relationships with others, as well as the relationship with myself. I am leaving Calgary and my little abode here to return to my home in Saskatchewan. I will be taking a good measure of myself at home while doing the necessary physical and spiritual preparations for a pilgrimage. I won’t be abandoning the psychological in the process, but I will be accenting the body and soul. The new blog site is where I will journal this time out. You can find the new blog site here.
I keep coming back to the image of the three moose I took almost two weeks ago and of the sighting of the three pronghorn antelopes less than an hour later – “What did their appearance really have for me as a message?” I have allowed this image to sit and stew within me in a deep background without “analyzing” it to death. What is emerging is the idea of body, mind and soul (heart). In this blog site, Through a Jungian Lens, I have been focused on the mind, the ego. I have been weighted in favour of the mind at the expense of my heart and of my body. That said, I am not abandoning Jungian Psychology, nor am I denying that my “Jungian filter” will somehow not influence the journey I am about to begin in life. When there is something that is particularly “Jungian” in orientation, I will post it here during my self-imposed time out – but likely that will be a rare instance. So from this point until my completion of my pilgrimage, I leave this place knowing that I will come back, come back home.
I have reached a point in my life where this blog site will cease being the centre of my on-line presence. I am not going to delete this blog site, but I will be posting here very irregularly. I am going to set up a different blog site that is not about Jungian Psychology. When I have the next version of blogging in place, I will provide a post here to let all know about the blog site and it’s URL. I do hope some, if not all of you decide to continue in sharing this journey with me.
Again, this is not the end of Through a Jungian Lens – if anything, it is a time-out for something different. Click on the title of Bob Dylan’s song to here his voice sing.
The Times they are a-changin – Bob Dylan
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music
I was fortunate to get this photo from the ground as the nest was set quite high on a pole found on the cutline south of Canmore. I walked far enough away up hill in order to attempt to get more than a bit of the osprey’s head in the image. For those interested in learning more about osprey birds, check out the wikipedia entry here.
Being a parent is a great experience and I treasure all the moments of fathering and parenting two daughters and one son. They have grown up and are now experiencing the role of parent as well. As with the baby birds in this nest, the children grow up and leave “home” to make their way in the larger world. For a parent it is as if things have fallen apart, as if one’s world has been broken. As I get older, I am finding more and more that things are falling apart. But what is important for me to understand is that in falling apart, things transform. Life presents me with an opportunity to be a new and improved version of myself.
Things fell apart for me in a significant way during the past winter as many of my readers know. I have finally reached the point where I am somewhat thankful for this. Without the falling apart, I would have delayed even longer the healing that was waiting deep within. Perhaps I would have waited too long, never getting the opportunity to put things right for my soul, my heart.
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 8)
I have been reading various blogs about the Camino de Santiago with interest as someday I hope to make this journey a part of my journey. In one blog at About.Com, Damian Corrigan writes:
The Camino de Santiago, a 800km trek across northern Spain, is described by anyone who has taken it, considered taking it or met anyone who has taken it, as a Life Changing Experience (© anyone who has ever taken, considered taking or met anyone who has taken the Camino de Santiago). It is said that the combination of long-periods of solitude, combined with the diverse people that you meet, in such a beautiful setting as the Spanish countryside, will Change your Life. – Damian Corrigan
Well, having the idea of making this pilgrimage has been on my mind for a long time. Curiously it re-surfaced with the shift into midlife for me. I had been running for quite a while, road-running, taking part in marathons and other shorter races, when my feet gave out on me – heel spurs. What a time to “grounded,” so-to-speak. The dream of the camino was dismissed and I turned to a more sedentary heroic journey via Jungian psychology. This is a journey of the human psyche that is called individuation. I have been committed to this journey of transformation of the psyche hoping for miracles for almost twenty years.
At some point along the way, I came to realise that I was only doing things in half measures as I had discounted spirituality, an aspect of my integral self that had been present form very early childhood until life got in the way. Twenty-four years ago I was re-awakened to the spiritual centre within me as I sat in a cathedral in Avignon, France for Easter. With the shift to the psychological, I had found that meditation served as a healing balm. I then followed the idea of meditation to reach Buddhism.
Today, I have it all – time (retired), a bit of money (pension), a relatively fit body, a spiritual centre and a desire to walk in search of self-awareness. It appears that I have been on a pilgrim’s journey for a long, long time but not really aware that I was on that journey. The pilgrim’s journey begins when one takes the first step towards healing the soul, the heart.
As I drove towards Canmore on Sunday for my Grassi Lakes hike, I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats in honour of the many other times I had stopped there while taking my children to visit family on Canada’s west coast. It became a tradition of sorts. I stopped because I saw the moon in the morning sky above one of the mountains and thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to capture that photo. Of course, once I was out of the car I began to wander and be present with where I was. I followed my ears as they lead me to Pigeon Creek. Once at the creek I was surprised by beautiful wild flowers. The time out had worked wonders for me and I was ready to head back to the car and complete the drive to Canmore. But, before I reached the car on my way back to the village, I saw this coyote who was calmly making his way into the edge of the hamlet. And in that moment, a bit more of my spirit was healed.
“Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 40)
The past few days have been quiet for me, weekends are like that when one is alone with no planned structure to fill the time. Like anyone else in the same situation, I am left to search for something to fill the hours, to fill the emptiness. Having turned to Buddhism, I find meditation creeping into my day when it is least expected filling those unexpected moments with deep peace. Having renewed a commitment to my body as a temple with prolonged walks as the approach to the care of my body, I find peace in those moments when “thinking” disappears and I become mindful of my steps, of the flowers, of the breezes, of the passing faces and the sounds – no thinking about them, just being aware of their presence. Meditation and walking have become my spiritual practice.
“We have become so spiritually dehydrated that we are now desperate to drink directly from the Divine Well itself and our thirst will no longer be slaked by drinking from a substitute or tainted source. We are awakening to a new spiritual age p one less dependent on an outer authority and more attuned to the God within. Conjecture is rife, but we cannot deny the statistics that point, on the one hand, to collapse, and on the other hand, to renewal. While the death of the old can be alarming, the birth of the new is always exciting. Something is undoubtedly ‘astir in the land’ and what we are witnessing is, perhaps, a collective emergence to a new spiritual reality directing our lives.” (Brierley, Camino de Santiago, p. 35)
Yesterday I went for a walk in the Canmore area. I began the walk with a short half kilometre from the parking lot down a wide and easy trail to reach a cutline that I then took for a distance of about two kilometres where I then found myself on a road as I crossed a bridge. I was looking for the entrance to the Grassi Lakes trail which I found seven hundred metres further down the trail. I then began the climb of almost two kilometres with an elevation gain of 250 metres while stopping to take photos along the way. I took the more difficult route to the top of the trail and stopped for a bit before going back to the start of the trail on the graveled path, the easy route. Once at the bottom I made the return trip retracing my steps while stopping at times for another photo opportunity of wildflowers as well as an osprey nest with mother and chicks. For this whole journey, I forgot to think about my life, about “issues” or past history or what I will be doing in the days, weeks and years to come. I somehow managed to find a spiritual centre in the act of being mindfully present, feeling the path under my shoes, feeling my body, hearing the insects and birds, feeling the light breezes and the heat rays of the sun, tasting the water from my bottles carried for the walk.
This is what I have been craving.
This is a photo I took about an hour ago while enjoying a long walk along the Bow River in Calgary. I had on my backpack with the camera and the laptop for weight as I work hard to both lower my blood pressure and to regain my fitness level with corresponding weight loss. Ideally I would lose about ten pounds (5 kilos) over the next month and a half. It seems that since my return from China I have put on these extra pounds due to being overly focused on analytic work. It helps that the sun has finally decided that it is summer time in Calgary. The sun motivates me.
Now that I am moving again in the sunshine, I find that meditation has become deeper, especially after pushing the pace for more than an hour. My body temperature goes up and there is a corresponding heating of psychic contents. It is as though my body heat with the rays of the sun have begun to cook unconscious contents which in turn have caused a sense of shifting – alchemy of the psyche in action. Now, I will step aside and not try and control the process. It will unfold as it will.
I was lucky yesterday. I had gone for a long walk of fourteen kilometres along the walking trails in Calgary. On the drive back to the outskirts of the city where I live, I got caught in a hail storm about one kilometre from where I stay. I had to stop and wait out the storm. When I got back, this was the scene from my patio looking out over the golf course. It isn’t really a good photo but it does what I want it to do. As I look again at the scene, I think of how many times I have walked in summer and winter in the countryside, moments of meditative peacefulness after the psychic storms that often plague me. When the storms abate I find the need to walk, to walk the devil out of me.
I am doing a lot of reading lately about the Camino de Santiago as found in various blogs and forums. I have to admit a fascination with the subject, almost an obsession. As I read, I found this quotation taken from a book:
The particular reasons which drive an individual towards an act of pilgrimage are inevitably deeply personal, and in many cases beyond the exercise of logic alone. Even though the physical dangers are not as great as they once were, the psychological and spiritual ferment remains. Those who are close to the pilgrim may well ask why they have undertaken such an action. The act of pilgrimage disturbs the lives of those who surround the pilgrim.
Despite the diversity of motivation, certain themes clearly emerge. The very historicity of the sites seems to exert its own natural attraction. Pilgrims travel in search of forgiveness for sins committed and so search for cleansing. A few travel as a form of punishment inflicting hardship on themselves as they go. Others journey in the hope of physical healing and inner spiritual healing. But above all, pilgrims travel in search of God and so hope to find themselves.
How strange it is that so many are drawn to leave home to find themselves. Yet the familiar sometimes obscures the eternal, not because it is not present but because it simply cannot be recognized without the experience of a broader canvas. Those who travel have understood the essential paradox that we cannot truly find the “I” within until we have found the “Thou” without.
- From Sacred Places, Pilgrim Paths: An Anthology Of Pilgrimage (1997) by MARTIN ROBINSON
On the drive back to Calgary, I stopped just fifteen minutes north of my home in Saskatchewan in order to take a number of photographs of these three young moose who were in a field near some farm ruins I have often photographed. The early morning light made it difficult to get the photograph I wanted but in the end, I simply was satisfied to stand outside, quite close and just watch them as they watched me. There is no doubt that they knew I was there as I wasn’t hidden by anything and the wind ways blowing toward them carrying my human scent. It was a magical moment.
As I got back into my car and continued on my return journey, I thought of these magnificent animals and had a first impression that they were telling me something important, something about wandering off the beaten track. I thought of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and wandering. These three moose suggested to me that I should make it a long pilgrimage wandering through England, France and the famed Way of St. James.
The three moose also symbolized for me, the Trinity of my childhood and youth in which Catholicism was an important part – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have lost almost everything that had to do with my religious roots, mostly at the hands of pedophile priests. But, I didn’t lose everything – the spiritual dimension remained. Wandering through old cathedrals has continued to evoke a sense of awe, of the numinous that transcends time and place.
Perhaps, more importantly, was the motivation to wander (read walk) here in Calgary. I need to walk longer, walk faster in an attempt to improve my physical fitness levels. I am a gypsy in terms of finding it difficult to stay in one place. I did manage to stay in one place while my children started and finished their schooling. Before and after this interlude of twenty years, I have always been wandering; even as a child as we followed the wanderings of my father. Who knows what the future holds in store?
I just don’t get tired of photographing the moon. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. I simple want to. I don’t have to have a known reason when it comes to photography. This is something that I just trust. I follow rather than lead when it comes to photography. For almost everything else in my life, it is about taking a lot of time to analyse, justify, weigh and doubt.
I have returned to Calgary and analytic sessions after a week off (for good behaviour) spent at my home and on the home golf course. My golfing is an indication of how I am doing analytically speaking. I have been noticing that I struggle less and that there is less frustration translating to a better score. I anticipate that I will be back to normal when it comes to the golf course before the end of the golf season. A good part of my time at home was filled with the presence of one of my children and her two boys, my two oldest grandsons who golf with me and my wife.
Now that I am back in Calgary the golf clubs are put away for at least a week, time that I will spend walking, reading, writing and researching.