Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Psychotherapy for Spiritual Crisis: Matter

November 20th, 2012 · crisis, Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, spiritual crisis

Jungian psychotherapy is aware of a profound and paradoxical truth: to understand spirit, and, often, to move beyond spiritual crisis, we must experience — take in, accept — the reality of matter.

Jungian psychotherapy

For Jungian psychotherapy, spirit and matter are not fundamentally opposed, but profoundly related.  Many a spiritual crisis erupts from a disconnect between the two.

Here in the Material World

Madonna sings the lines, “For we are living in a material world /  And I am a material girl.”  And the reality is that we are all material people.  The body is not an illusion.  It’s substantial, and real — it is what we are.

Our entire psyche is shaped by the fact that we are embodied creatures, living in a physical world.  It is virtually impossible to conceive what it would be like to live in an unembodied way.  Our whole manner of mental functioning stems from being in a body, and even the images generated by archetypal psyche are images of embodied existence — of physical being.

Matter, My Nature

To be human, we have to come to terms with animal life.  One of the great spiritual lessons to come out of the work of Charles Darwin and evolution has to do with recognizing that we live in continuity with all that lives in the material world, rather than existing in a separate and god-like apartness.  We are a part of the whole great living reality of the earth.

An important part of the journey of the spirit for us is a journey into accepting our own material, animal existence.  Accepting the simple, humble, yet wondrous organism that each of us fundamentally is.

To approach this simple, wondrous, poor, yet infinitely rich, fearful yet courageous, humble and yet deeply dignified being, our own animal self, with compassion and self acceptance, is a huge journey.

Dust, Perhaps, but Enchanted Dust

We are matter, surely, yet we move with a strange enchantment.  Looking at ourselves, we cannot help but wonder: do we have even the beginning of an understanding of the nature of matter — our own matter?  The fact remains that, of all the things that humanity has encountered in the universe so far, we ourselves are the most intricate and wondrous.

The matter which forms us, and by which we are surrounded is infinitely variable, subtle and complex.  We swim in it, we are it, and yet we cannot even take in the complete fullness of the mystery of matter in the apparently smallest and most insignificant of things.  A magnificently simple and eloquent scene from the film American Beauty (dir. Sam Mendes) captures this:

Living in the Flesh of the World

We live with and in the flesh of the world, subject to its necessities, its weaknesses and its wonder.  When we move away from material existence, and from our body existence, we move away from life, and from others.  Spiritual crisis?  Jungian psychotherapy knows that, without relationship to matter, there is no relationship to spirit.

Next in series: Spirit

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PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved nilsrinaldi ; familymwr  |   VIDEO: “American Beauty” © 1999 Paramount Pictures

 

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Jungian Therapy for Anxiety & Times of Crisis: 5 Truths

August 14th, 2011 · crisis, Jungian, Jungian therapy, therapy, therapy for anxiety, times of crisis

therapy for anxiety

In times of crisis like these, with financial panic and other factors, some important truths emerge from the practice of Jungian therapy, depth psychotherapy, and therapy for anxiety.   Here are some key learnings important for resilience — and for getting through — in times like these.

1.  Acknowledge Your Emotions

This is key to consciousness of ourselves, in Jungian therapy terms.  Also, attempting to deny feelings and be stoic in demanding times only increases anxiety and stress loading.  Much better to be forthright with yourself about what you’re feeling.  Psychotherapy can provide a supportive container for this.

2.  Current Crises Activate Old Feelings

Going through instability and volatility in the present, we may vividly re-experience old memories and feelings of difficult or crisis times undergone in the past.  It is important to realize that much anxiety and emotion may stem from the ways in which the situation “hooks” our memories of earlier situations (e.g., 9/11 , 2008 crisis , personal crises).

3.  Limit Exposure to Anxiety Provokers

In crisis situations we seek reassurance.  We may seek out modern media as information sources to get it, but then find that, by their nature, the media do the opposite, and elevate our anxiety.  It may make sense to limit your exposure to news media or other anxiety amplifiers, if you possibly can.

4.  In Crises, the Archetypal Often Emerges

Often, in times of high stress and emotion, the unconscious becomes particularly active.  This may be an important time to be aware of dreams and other content from the unconscious.  It may shed a significantly different perspective on what is going on than your everyday conscious awareness.  Depth psychotherapy like Jungian therapy may well help in integrating this material into your life.

5.  Hang onto Your Individuality

In times of crisis it’s easy for strong feeling or affect  to make people lose their individuality, and be overcome by a herd mentality.  Just this week, we have seen the panic in financial markets and the London riots.  But it’s essential both for our own well-being and conscious awareness of ourselves as individuals that we hold onto ourselves, and avoid merging with the herd.  That’s the way we stay human.
My best wishes to you for resilience, as we all live and move through and beyond these challenging times.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst | Oakville, Burlington & Mississauga Ontario

1-905-337-3946

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PHOTO: © All rights reserved by chee_hian/
© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

 

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Life Crisis, Meaning and Psychotherapy

December 9th, 2010 · analytical psychology, crisis, depression, depth psychology, Existential crisis, Individuation, spiritual crisis

When a psychotherapist, and especially a Jungian analyst uses the expressions “life crisis” and “meaning” today, he or she means something specific.  It’s something different from a “major crisis“, which might be some major change and disruption in a person’s life due to changes in external events or relationships.  A life crisis is a crisis about the roots of a person’s life.  Some people might call it a spiritual crisis or crisis of meaning, and others, an “existential” crisis.  The things that characterize such an event are often deep emotional distress accompanied by persistent questioning about whether life is meaningful.  A person may, at times, even look at his or her life and ask her- or himself questions like, “Is it worth it?  or “What’s the point?”  As such, it’s something very fundamental in a person’s life, and something that she or he simply cannot ignore.

A Life Crisis is About Meaning

It’s very easy for helping professionals to look at someone suffering from this kind of crisis, and to simply conclude that the individual is suffering from some variant of depression, or possibly that he or she is having a grief reaction.  And what makes it complex is that there may well be depression that the person is experiencing.  Or else, it may well be that the person’s life crisis has been triggered by a major grief event of one kind or another.  However, if the person is simply treated for the symptoms of the depression, rather than the root causes, it will not lead to a complete resolution.  Putting an individual who is suffering from this kind of life crisis on anti-depressants, for instance, might “take the bottom out” of the depression, so that the individual won’t feel quite as low.  But if the individual is not helped in a very personal way to find what is meaningful in his or her life, nothing fundamental will have changed.

Life Crises are Very Individual

People who are confronted with life crises have to be helped in a very individual way to discover meaning and value to their lives.  This can only someone who has the necessary skills and depth to help the suffering person find the very personal, individual resources within her- or himself to move back into a place where he or she can gratefully and passionately embrace his or own particular, individual life.  This is the particular kind of thing that a therapist with extensive training and personal experience in depth psychology and Jungian analysis can provide.

Have You Ever Experinced a Life Crisis?  Are You Facing One Now?

Although “life crisis” moments can often come at the middle of life or later, they can come at any point in life?  Have you ever had a crisis of meaning, when it “just didn’t feel worth it”?  It’s amazing how many famous and very gifted or capable people have been through this kind of experience.  If you’ve had a similar experience, and you were willing to talk or write about it, I’d welcome the chance to hear from you via  a comment or through a confidential email.

Wishing you meaning and vibrant inner life on your personal journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

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1-905-337-3946

PHOTO CREDIT: © Franz Pfluegl | Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Oakville / Mississauga border)

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