Archive for the ‘transformation’ tag
I am overwhelmed with so much at this point. Having allowed the barriers to fall down, at least a little, has allowed a bit of light to enter. That is good, but it isn’t necessarily very comfortable. In truth, perhaps the lies one tells to oneself is preferable to the truth. I have been dreaming a lot more than usual, something that I expected as I re-entered analysis, but still something that at times seems to be too much. Looking at these dreams points to both dark and light aspects of myself in my relation to the world, to others and to that inner core of my own being.
So, as a diversionary tactic, I have become a bit more present on Twitter where I soon found myself “engaged” and “present” in the drama of individuals begging to bring light into the darkness of Canadian and American politics as well as with issues of child abuse and mental health. It didn’t take me long to realise that this wasn’t a diversionary tactic at all, but about participation with others in a search for truth, objectivity and meaning – again an issue of dark and light; good and evil. Somehow the drama of my dream world, the stuff coming out of analysis and the interactions on Twitter were lining up together as if to make a point, a lesson for me to hear and take note of.
In response I shifted to Facebook which is usually “lighter” filled more with meaningless “status updates” and “he said, she said” kinds of messages. And there I found this YouTube link, Love, Reality and the Time of Transition which had been placed there by one of my Jungian Twitter and Facebook friends, Terre Spencer who is a therapist with an orientation to Jungian psychology as well. The video begins pleasantly enough with John Lennon and the Beatles singing “All you need is love” and then the video moves on to look at the word love and what it really means in a big picture kind of way. There it was again, more and more and more – all joining together as if in a cabal, a conspiracy to have me open my eyes and finally learn something of value.
And realising that I don’t have all the answers, that I don’t know the truth of everything and that I need to be open to becoming more conscious, more aware and more present – I am humbled and submit to the truth that I need to open up and let the world in rather than build a box around myself in which to hide from that world.
Today’s Daily OM message arrived after the post had been written. I was amazed at this message which parallels and compliments the photo and post. One would think that it would have been the other way around – get the message and then create a post around it. Here is today’s meditative thought:
January 25, 2012
Before the World Wakes
In the first moments of day before our mind is fully awake can be a wonderful time for meditation.
Every once in a while my wife picks up my camera in order to note the fact that I am also part of the experience in a new country, or an event at home. This is a difficult task as I am usually busy with the camera or else we are busy with doing things that doesn’t involve cameras. This morning, while I was meditating on my private little balcony, she took advantage of the opportunity.
Being in Thailand is as much, if not more, about healing and dealing with the upwelling of old, repressed contents of childhood, boyhood and youth. A major part of that healing work is meditation for me, and given the opportunity, nude meditation in a private, out-of-doors location. I meditate twice a day; once in the early morning when the sound of birds becomes the background music, and once in the mid-afternoon when the full sun can fall on my body. I find it especially healing with the sun and a breeze and sounds of birds which help banish “thinking.” I try hard to become “still” inside, a rest from the other work of healing. This is the way it is and so the record now shows the truth of the way it is.
The other part of the healing process is writing. I write in two separate documents. The first document is a journal in which I record dreams, associations and bits of memories as they emerge. I also allow my feelings and intuition to take form in words in this journal. The second document is a purposeful recounting of life, my life, as I know it. I have to be clear on this “how I know it” as others might know it differently, have seen and heard and lived in very close proximity without awareness of what I have seen and heard and experienced. I have repressed much of that childhood, boyhood and youth and have been meeting with many blank spots in the process. But as I continue the work, images emerge out of darkness and fit into the story that has already been told.
This is my process and it seems to be working for me. I build, or I should say, I am in the process of recovering, rebuilding my life, remembering by putting recovered pieces back into place in search of wholeness.
I’ve decided on a change of photo type for today’s post. The number of flowering trees and plants is absolutely amazing. One of my projects is to get as many photos of the varieties as I can before I leave Thailand in early February. The presence of moisture and sunshine feeds the flowers in defiance of the season being “winter.” This moisture and sunshine is also feeding me, nourishing my soul and giving me the extra energy needed for the alchemical work of individuation.
My journey through my personal history has taken me to the age of 21 and now registers almost 75,000 words. During the process I am maintaining a dream diary as well as reflections journal which is growing with images that have somehow eluded inclusion (after-the-fact) in the main story. Of course this will mean a re-write at some point. The final version will also include psychological reflections along the way looking at how complexes find their sources and how living and doing the “work” allows resolution and individuation. Perhaps it is too large of work, but it is my ambition. Likely bits and pieces will find their way here in “general” terms in order to protect the innocent and guilty.
When we choose that which is not best for us,
there can be a deep seated part of us
that does not want to heal.
These words from Daily Om help me to spot the resistances and will help me fill out all the empty spaces hidden in darkness.
I took a walk on the beach as sunset was approaching. For a change I took my camera, a habit that has fallen to the side here in Thailand. As some of you may already know, this is a reflective time for me. My limited posting, the choice of images and words may hint at what is bubbling beneath the surface. I do want to say that this is a process of choice for the most part. I want to be honest in saying “for the most part” as there is an internal, unconscious push at work as well. The process is alchemical in most aspects.
The process has me risking self-analysis, taking myself on as a patient, watching the process from the sidelines and recording data and then daring to ask my “self” some tough questions about what my “self” has said and seen. If this sounds a bit like “dissociation” you are correct. Dissociation is at work, but it has always been at work to some extent for all of us. There is a bit of difference for me in this work as I am “aware” of the dissociation. This isn’t about multiple personalities, it is about carving out a space of safe distance to monitor my “self.”
And in case you are wondering, I am safe.
In working through the stages of developing masculine identity as presented in Monick’s book, Castration and Male Rage, I seem to have run into a roadblock, one that deflected me from following through with the process of exploring and reflecting on these stages. Something said in the book, “booted me out” as a techie would describe it. My unconscious has its own firewalls built in for what it assumes in the protection of my psyche. Now, realising this, it becomes my task to return to the words – off blog – and find the hot spot that needs attention.
I hope that this kind of explanation indicates something of what is actually happening. In my own way, I am trying to re-approach analysis using my “self” as the primary case of study. Jung did somewhat the same thing as he took his moments of retreat into his tower at Bollingen. Freud, however, did it in such a direct and fairly complete way that I don’t think has ever been dared or duplicated. As I try this, I have the benefit of a safety net of colleagues, analysts that I can call on to haul me back in if I wander too deep into the water. As I see it, I am walking along the edges of the unconscious, aware of its presence just as I walk along the edge of the sea, aware of both the sea and what has been thrown up onto the sand, disgorged by that sea -disgorged by the unconscious for the conscious self to see.
Any questions? Well, just ask. I might even answer them.
Yesterday I posted a photo which was similar to this photo. The difference is that today’s photo puts yesterday’s photo in context. A day older, I find myself shifting my focus away from the darkness to the light, to the golden light. In the darkness of yesterday, there was a reflection of that golden light, a reflection that taught me to look “up” from the depths and to follow my eyes up from the depths to find a place somewhere between the light and the darkness. And so, today, I am finding that I can be here with you from this middle ground.
The voice one uses from the depths is different from the voice from the middle ground and the heights. I have to realise that I am a human that needs to live in a world in the middle. If I fly to high into the light, I will suffer like Icarius. If I fly too low I will enter into an equally dangerous place.
As I am getting older, I am getting a bit more impatient. I want to know too much, to find too many answers in too much of a hurry. My psyche tells me to slow down and allow it all to work out in its own time, to stop “forcing” the issue. But that same psyche doesn’t tell me what is slow enough. It becomes my work to monitor with a small part of my brain and body, what is happening, to make that call of “too much” and “too fast” for me. And I listen to that small part of my body and mind.
So today, I find myself sitting peacefully on my balcony after a morning of sunning and swimming and letting go of the darkness that has engulfed me. I chose the descent and I now choose this time of surfacing. I will be diving again when it is time. This is just the way it is as I take a month in Thailand for the healing work of depth psychology.
Another scene of the sunset taken on the first evening in Pattaya is one that is all about alchemy for me, a fitting image for this is my task in Thailand – transformational change. Of course in making such a claim I want to qualify this with a bit of reality and caution. Transformational change isn’t all about some mystical and spiritual transformation from ordinary person into some sort of Buddha or Christ-figure or anything even remotely approaching some world-changing being. Rather, for me it is about little things.
Each time I dive into the unconscious, usually as a somewhat unwilling participant, doubtful and dubious of what is going to happen, I seem to suffer with the exposure of some inner darkness I wish didn’t exist, an inner darkness that I hope is nothing but a figment of my imagination – “Did that really happen, or am I making it up?’ sort of darkness coming to light. Once exposed to the light I have a few choices; well, not really. I can own up to the facts, the moods, the events, the shit exposed and do it without laying blame, refusing to take the role of victim; or, I can deny, deny, deny; or, I can justifiably lay blame and become a victim thus relieving myself of any personal responsibility for becoming a better person, for healing myself.
For me, it is all about owning the shit – it happened, I was there, I am now here. I need to acknowledge the shit that happened to me, the shit I received, the shit that I caused. I need to release its power over me. And the only way to do this is to expose it to the light of logos, to allow the sun to remove the cancerous cells and leave me lighter in both spirit and in dead weight.
Thailand is my fiery furnace where I am risking the exposure of darkness, risking sanity and relationship. What will emerge? I don’t know and in the end it doesn’t matter. For this is about process for now. And I have learned to trust the process.
Walking through an older area of Saigon, near the Cho Binh Tay, a market place, I came across a couple of Buddhist temples that were Chinese rather than Vietnamese. On the outer wall of the temple I saw this T’ai Chi symbol, otherwise known as yin yang, surrounded by leaves. It made me think of how the union of masculine and feminine in the real world is an act of creation, a union from which new life springs forth.
I am amazed at how experiencing different cultures in different parts of the world has been so powerful in affecting change within my psyche. It is as though the small discoveries which are more often more about numinous image than about analytical thought, seep into the unconscious soup and find resonance and become part of the soup out of which I continue to grow as a person.
In a way, it is like this image which takes on a mandala like power. I grow larger consciously while the centre holds. The more conscious I become is akin to adding yet another corresponding symbol on the mandala that represents that consciousness, numinous symbols that also point back to the centre and back to the unconscious core that remains to be discover. As I go through this process, the centre doesn’t shrink, doesn’t empty. Rather, that centre becomes a portal to something beyond containment.
Experiencing countries such as India, Vietnam, China, Laos, Cambodia in the far east has taken me to the exotic and turned that exotic into something that is natural, something that becomes integrated into the new me, a transformed me. And, as I find out about the process of self-change, that change is not about adding something new, but more about discovering what has always been there.
Life is a fragile thing as are the relationships one has during the incredibly short span of years allotted to each of us. We often find ourselves walking on eggshells around those we hold closest to us, hoping that somehow nothing will disturb the relationship. We understand how fragile relationships are in the modern world as we see divorce rates rise. Abandoned wives, husbands and children talk to us of relationships broken intentionally, even those who take their own lives abandon those they leave behind. Death through illness, accidents and old age – all unintentional breaking of relationship just adds to the sense that one can never take for granted the presence of another person.
But yet, we rarely think twice about abandoning ourselves, our dreams, our uniqueness. How quickly we abandon a principle or a belief about ourselves if we think it will please someone we hold in high regard. Often we abandon our principles simply in order to keep a job, ensure that our relationship with the employer isn’t challenged – we come “yes” men and women. Often we abandon our principles in order to live within a community knowing that it is better for our spouse and children in the community if we adopt the community norms as our norms. Often we abandon our sense of self in order to encourage our spouse to believe that it is worth it to stay in relation with us. But most often, we abandon the relationship with our soul, with the core of who we sense/know/intuit/feel we are. We fall into a trap in which we have a problem balancing what others expect from us in return for a relationship and what we need to keep in order to have a healthy relationship with the self.
In today’s photo, I get a “dream” sense in which the woman is anima, the soul and she is retreating into the distance, heading back to the sea, back to the anima mundi. And the self is left alone on the shore, standing tall and proud, a precarious and temporary standing.
What do we keep, what do we give up when it comes to being in relation? This often is a critical question faced by those who enter into the journey of individuation, a journey of alchemical change, a journey that highlights differences in the face to face world in the eyes of others. The loneliness tempts us with relationship if only we would abandon the journey and rejoin the collective. But at what cost?
Yes, all it takes is a puff of air and the seeds with their feathery carriers will scatter the whole into a chaotic dispersion of relocation; what was once one becomes blown apart into tiny possibilities. But, until that time of resurrection there is a period of darkness, winter, which will test the tiny container that holds the promise of a new life, transformed life.
I thought I knew what I was going to talk about with this photo, but now that the words are beginning to emerge, I have found my head shifting into something else. I think instead of that “puff of air” as the centre instead of the scattered seed which will emerge as life renewed and transformed. Immediately upon writing “the puff of air” I thought of creation and of Genesis, how like a puff of air the universe and life came into being. The “puff of air” became a creative force, not a destructive dispersing force that pulls life apart.
The creative force which contains all possibilities, all that belongs to our past, our present and our future; and the past, present and future that might have been is like this flower (or weed) that then renders itself asunder in order to create the possibilities of life.
A lot of walking in different parks and along various canals that intersect the city of Changzhou has meant that I have again taken a lot of photos such as this one that I found in Qing Feng Park in the western part of this city, or should I say Greater Changzhou which includes towns and villages in a prefecture style urban government.
Since it is autumn, there is no surprise that many of the images I am taking show scenes of autumn in terms of colour and texture. This is the season of wabi-sabi, about how we are just temporary organisms in context of a larger context. Wabi-sabi shows itself in the “less than perfect” that comes with aging, the breakdown of anything from its peak of existence, that one moment of perfection. Taking a few words from Wikipedia:
“The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (sanboin), specifically impermanence (mujo), the other two being suffering (dukkha) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (sunyata).
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.”
I sense that for me, as human, the moment of shifting from the rising to whatever it would have been for my body to be perfect, to the beginning of descent into a simpler state happened at the age of about 35, when I set personal bests for running 10K, 20K and marathons. I was at a physical peak and then the slide started. It wasn’t so noticeable to others, but I could tell – I was becoming slower and I hurt more with training.
But, that was only in terms of the physical me. My mental growth continued (in my perception) until . . . and I find I can’t complete that thought as I don’t know how to measure it. If anything, with wabi-sabi as it is defined, the refinement of the psyche continues on until the psyche ceases to have a conscious awareness of itself. This fits with Jung’s idea of individuation. With individuation there is a growth of consciousness, of awareness of self, and others in relation to self, and of the whole in relation to self. With the growth in psychic awareness, there is a an appreciation of how the whole becomes much simpler, less fractured and scattered.