Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Individual Therapy & Ordinary Life as Remarkable

August 9th, 2013 · 2 Comments · individual, individual therapy, therapy

Individual therapy is a contradiction: a simultaneous journey into life as both ordinary and miraculous.

individual therapy

Last week, I had the opportunity to again visit one of the world’s great art museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  While I was there, I spent a great deal of time with the paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Renoir and “Everyday Eternity”

As in his 1877 “Portrait of Eugène Murer”, shown above, there is a particular quality of immediacy and life to Renoir’s paintings.  There is something about the way he paints that imbues his paintings with an incredible vitality, lifelikeness and significance.  We care about the people he portrays, we’re fascinated by them, and we wish that we could talk to them, engage them — and, in a way, we find that we do, as we engage with his paintings.

Renoir actively sought to convey this quality of immediacy, life and deep significance in his painting.  As he said:

“I like painting best when it looks eternal without boasting about it: an everyday eternity, revealed on the street corner; a servant-girl pausing a moment as she scours a saucepan, and becoming a Juno on Olympus…”

individual therapy

 

Renoir’s art reveals the eternity in so-called ordinary life.

Everyday Eternity and the Art of Individual Therapy

In a surprising way, the search for the eternal in the ordinary, which is the heart of Renoir’s art, is not all that different from the quest that forms the basis of individual therapy and depth psychotherapy. Individual therapy is certainly an exploration of the validity, importance and plain reality of everyday, ordinary, individual life. Situations that we find ourselves in, that seem mundane and ordinary are often archetypal.  In the conflicts, transitions, losses and gains of our lives, we share in patterns that have characterized human life right from its distant beginnings. In moments of insight in individual therapy, we can experience both an awareness of our own unique individuality, and a deep sense of connection to the age old experience of the broader human race. individual therapy

Profound Ordinariness

It may sound trite, but sometimes the awareness that “I’m real; my life matters” can be a profound realization.  To feel my own uniqueness, and experience that I’m truly alive, that I truly exist — not as a matter of intellectual awareness, but genuinely to feel it —  can be a deeply changing awareness. Jung describes a particular experience of coming to self-awareness:

Suddenly for a single moment I had the overwhelming impression of having emerged from a dense cloud.  I knew all at once: now I am myself!  Previously I had existed, too, but everything had merely happened to me.  Now I happened to myself.  ~C.G. Jung  [italics mine]

To genuinely feel and accept my own uniqueness is to find myself in a singular experiment in the history of the universe — my own real life.

Eternity / You

The process of individual therapy is a journey into seeing the profundity and importance of my own everyday life.  To feel my own life — and its importance — is a key part of the journey to wholeness.

PAINTINGS: © Auguste Renoir, “Eugène Murer”; “By the Seashore”; “Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children”, all from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y. 

© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)