At Esalen Institute, I presented alchemy as an inspiring theme for a few of our intensive 5-day transformational retreats. The alchemy paradigm fits for 2019 — the year that requires evocative transfiguration within both our individual — and collective psyche. Carl Jung, Edward Edinger and Marie-Louise von Franz serve as our brilliant guides as we venture forth in this discussion. I plan to present more on this topic in a series of blogs in the coming months. Let me know if you find this a topic of interest.
The New Year, 2018, is upon us and many of you have battled ferociously in 2017 with tumultuous events in our country and on the world stage. Political trends have held sway and have enveloped many in a reoccurring sense of foreboding leading to a constant teeter-totter between anxious alarm, fury, dismay and exhaustion, as forces, seemingly out of our control, have moved our country in directions never imagined. We require a way to sustain our inner balance and resilience as we weather the destruction of values that many have relied on as a democratic world-view.
I am inviting you to turn inward – in contrast to our current externalized way of life – as we are catapulted insistently toward outward preoccupation. We are pulled, dragged, mesmerized by the outer world: the constant stream of input, night and day – either by choice or by our propensity for distraction. Our brains fire up as we flit from topic to topic, picture to picture, posting to posting, until we feel fragmented, as we disintegrate into pieces of information and the emotions they fetch; up and down, in and out, we run like a wild merry-go-round – but a not so merry one. Then exhaustion and depression hit; we are drained.
Carl Jung’s concept of individuation defines a stage of conscious maturity that is based on: autonomy, differentiation, and authenticity manifested in self-expression defined by our unique, individual nature. In my last post on dreams, I focused on creating a conscious shift from preoccupation with externalized activities, outer busyness and ego identification to cultivation of silence and inner meaning achieved through a deepening relationship and exploration of our dreams. Jung teaches that as we develop this relationship with our unconscious, which speaks to us through dreams and other creative expressions: painting, writing, etc., we are engaging in a personally transformative process of becoming.
Dreaming is a pathway into the mysteries of our psyche. Dreams and dream analysis help us establish an illuminated relationship with our unconscious. Our relationship with our unconscious is important as our unconscious is often in the driver’s seat affecting many aspects of our life – even if we don’t realize it. Our conscious mind may be, at times, in the backseat as our unconscious emotions, drives and impulses take over. Dr. Carl Jung, a brilliant dream expert, teaches us that the unconscious mind is a powerful internal force that must be responded to and respected or it can flood us – resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed by our own inner thoughts and feelings. When the psyche is not reckoned with, it may express itself through a persistent variety of physical and mental symptoms that we have difficulty understanding. Tuning into our dreams is a way to develop a relationship with our unconscious; to listen carefully to the messages we receive in our dreams.