Archive for the ‘inner work’ tag
This is a mule deer that I saw alongside the road while driving home from hunting elk with a camera. I did get a few elk shots but the results were poor in the weak early morning light. But then again, being there and seeing the elk as well as a few white-tail deer was worth the hours of walking and getting up at 4:30 in the morning.
It is finally getting a bit warmer. Yesterday we got to 15 C., and today we are up to about 8 C. Definitely autumn weather which I appreciate. It is too jolting to shift from summer straight into winter.
In thinking about this idea of “jolting” I am reminded of the shock one receives when waking suddenly from a vivid dream only to have it almost instantaneously disappear. The affect remains though the dream is gone and often even the memory of having dreamt disappears.
Anyone having any knowledge of dreams from a Jungian perspective realises that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious. Well, there is a second road, that of active imagination.
… the unconscious also functions during the waking hours. It emits a continual stream of energetic pulses that find their way to the conscious mind in the form of feelings, moods, and most of all, the images that appear in the imagination. (Johnson, Inner Work, 1986, p. 22)
With than in mind, what we assume about the constructs of our imagination are not really fictions at all. Every fiction we invent is really not a fiction, it is simply our imagination giving a voice to the unconscious. Study our “created fictions” and we will learn more about ourselves. In this way, I study my photographic images, photos that are really not pleasant accidents at all, but deliberate choices based on the unvoiced unconscious. Interesting ideas …
Yes, there is snow on the ground this morning. I have to admit that it does look clean and beautiful, so pristine with its sharp lines and contrasts. One can almost sense that the darkness has been banished beneath a white cloak. Now if only it wouldn’t get so cold!
Winter freezes the soil, slows down so much of what we call life. We like to hibernate, hide under warm sweaters and blankets. More often than not, even the mind is numbed as folk retreat into heated homes to watch television. But, too much of this winter means also a lack of sunlight. So, we retreat into a zone of depressive silence, silent even to ourselves, caught in a constrictive container. We slow down and feel all the aches and pains of past injuries and illnesses. Yet, we don’t challenge any of this, we simply endure, waiting for winter’s end. If we are lucky, we will emerge at the other side of winter without letting lose the inner demons, without dealing with the darkness within that matches the darkness without. But …
Every person must live the inner life in one form or another. Consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or involuntarily, the inner world will claim us and exact its dues. If we go to that realm consciously, it is by our inner work: our prayers, meditations, dream work, ceremonies, and Active Imagination. If we try to ignore the inner world, as most of us do, the unconscious will find its way into our lives through pathology: our psychosomatic symptoms, compulsions, depressions, and neuroses. (Johnson, Inner Work, 1986, p. 11)
At this time of year, the mountain ash trees are filled with berries. In several weeks time, birds like Cedar Waxwings will swarm the trees to eat the fruit. By then, the fruit will leave the birds a bit intoxicated. Freezing the berries and then warming up a bit results in “ripe” berries. It’s funny watching the birds stumble around as they feed on the over-ripe berries. I’m hoping to get a good photo of a feed sometime this late fall.
I’ve been paying more attention to politics in my country and am amazed at how many errors are made by the politicians, errors that are easy for opponents and the media to catch. Following these public errors, the politicians protest about being set up or blame it on their aides or plead a moment of misjudgement. It is almost as if they truly didn’t realise that they were making these errors at the time. Of course, this charges the air around them in the political world and there is a definite feeling of conflict “us” versus “them.” Even within party ranks, the errors occur.
Something is going on, something below the surface. This is about shadow, about the unconscious.
Our egos tend to think of the unconscious as being outside ourselves, even though its contents are actually deep inside us. This is why we hear people say things like “I just wasn’t myself when I did that.” When we find ourselves doing something unexpected, something that doesn’t fit in with our conscious conception of ourselves, we speak of it as though someone else were acting rather than ourselves. The conscious mind is startled, because it pretends that the unconscious isn’t there. Since the total psyche is much larger and more complex than the ego-mind can grasp, these unexpected things always feel as though they come from outside us rather than from within us. (Johnson, Inner Work, 1986, pp 8-9)
This explains why we so often feel like victims of the outer world which becomes a more and more dangerous place. This also explains our need to scapegoat, to lay blame outside for our own dark stuff. It’s amazing how we refuse to believe that we have said certain things. In our own minds we are certain that we didn’t do or say those things others accuse us of saying and doing. Imagine being a politician whose words are forever made public through recording devices. For the rest of us who don’t have anyone recording our words, there is a tendency to believe that “others” are lying about what we have purportedly said and done. We enter into a state of denial rather than do the work to uncover what is going on within ourselves.
As I was walking along the sidewalk upon the return from a longer walk in the countryside, this little bird was huddling in the protection of the tree, closer to the calm centre. Often, we do the same thing, we retreat from the buffeting winds of the outer world for the presumed safety of the shadows. Do we necessarily know what we are really doing when we do this, or is it just an instinctual respone?
Robert Johnson has an interesting point of view:
When we experience inexplicable conflicts that we can’t resolve; when we become aware of urges in ourselves that seem irrational, primitive or destructive; when a neurosis afflicts us because of our conscious attitudes are at odds with our instinctual selves – then we begin to realize that the unconscious is playing a role in our lives and we need to face it. (Johnson, Inner Work, 1986, p. 5)
I found this quote which I had highlighted in my copy of this book this morning, the first thing that caught my eye. Synchronicity? Perhaps. Why do I suggest synchronicity? Well, if you have been following the posts and the comments, you will have found that some of my posts are in response to the comments. I had no intention of deliberately responding to one of the latest comments through a post, but it somehow began to emerge. First, the photo. Retreat into a safe place, an assumed safe place. Only, it isn’t so safe at all as in this shadow zone, one is not alone at all. The ghosts, shadows and memories crowd into this safe place making it seem more a prison than a safe container.
Waking up to the unconscious is something can disable the psyche, especially if one is not also strong in the outer world. The best strategy when in this position is to find a guide. Of course, I am biased and would suggest that one find a qualified, certified Jungian analyst. Why? Well, this allows one to remain in charge and not become an obedient follower. In my opinion, this is the best and safest route to take when attempting to become a whole person, a healed person with a healed soul.
This is the result of high winds and a quick cold snap that has temperatures dropping to about -10C during the night. Soon, very soon, the colours of autumn will be covered in a cold blue-white snow. All evidence of life will be reduced to faded colours where snow doesn’t conceal.
It’s obvious that images, photos, are a key part of my “inner work.” Why is that? Here is another voice talking about “images” and “inner work.”
The unconscious manifests itself through a language of symbols. It is not only in our involuntary or compulsive behavior that we can see the unconscious. It has two natural pathways for bridging the gap and speaking to the conscious mind: One is by dreams; the other is through the imagination. … inner work is primarily the art of learning this symbolic language of the unconscious. (Robert A. Johnson, Inner Work, 1986, p.4)
Robert A. Johnson has written a number of books which I have and have found to be quite illuminating to say the least. Imagination and symbols as means of becoming more aware of self and other is what this blog site is about. I am aware that the greatest tool used by Jungian analysts and depth work by Jungian psychotherapists is dream work; but, that is not the focus of this blog site. Is this because of a lack of value for dream work on my part? No. It is simply a choice that I have made as a way to make connection with others who may or may not know the concepts of Jungian psychology, but who do connect with images. And, it allows me to make some use of the photos that I have taken and continue to take, photos that are part of my own “inner work.”
Walking along the beach provides many interesting subjects for the camera. I don’t know what this object is, I do know that it is out of its element and because of that, it is deteriorating. Stranded on the beach, it is exposed to the salt and water and sun, all of which, eats away at the surface and likely within the structure itself. I guess that we are the same when we become exposed, when out persona falls away. This is part of the danger in doing inner work. Rather than honouring the inner contents, the archetypes that manifest within the psyche, we allow the inner contents to spill out, contents which once removed from their natural element, begin to act as an acid rendering the psyche fractured and toxic.