As you continue your soul work you will eventually discover the repeated patterns of thought, feelings and sensations what Jack Kornfield called the “Insistent Visitors.” In this video/audio blog post I take you through four basic principles for dealing with these difficult and repeating problems.
The four principles are: Expand the Field of Awareness, Come to a Full Awareness of the Feelings, Discover what is Asking for Acceptance, and Open through the Center.
The heroine crosses the threshold, leaves the safety of her home, and goes in search of her self. She journeys up hills and down valleys, wades in rivers and streams, crosses dry deserts and dark forests, and enters the labyrinth to find what is at the center of her self. Along the way she meets ogres who trick her into going down dead ends, adversaries who challenge her cunning and resolve, and obstacles which she must avoid, circumstances to overcome. She needs a lamp, a lot of thread, and all of her wits about her to make the journey. – Maureen Murdock in The Heroine’s Journey
Everyone’s soul and journey is unique. DR BREN has developed a unique approach to helping people reconnect with their souls and to dare to live their lives fully and meaningfully.
LISTEN TO YOUR SOUL
When soul learns you are interested in the journey of life, she will begin to send dreams and fantasies hoping you will be curious enough to take the step towards learning her language. Soul speaks symbolically and she sends the symbolic clues to healing your split between her and your ego. If you love mysteries you will never be bored with learning the mysteries of your own soul’s life.
DR BREN helps you understand and respond to the symbolic mysteries of your soul.
TURN YOUR CHILDHOOD DEFENSES INTO GIFTS
Most likely you are living your life in the past. Your life has been scripted by what has happened to you thus far. Your ego learned long ago in childhood what was safe and what was unsafe, developing strategies all along the way to avoid danger and maximize safety.
DR BREN helps you to identify the childhood strategies that are not serving you anymore, choosing strategies that are more appropriate for the demands of your adult life.
INTEGRATE YOUR SHADOW
Growing up in American society many parts of our selves have been denied expression and repressed into the unconscious. In depth psychology we call this the shadow. The shadow needs you as much as much as you need the shadow to live a full and meaningful life.
DR BREN helps you reconnect and integrate the lost parts of yourself.
BALANCE YOUR FEMININE AND MASCULINE ENERGIES
Anima, the Latin word for our feminine soul, has been pushed into the depths of the unconscious while the masculine spirit (also known as ego) soars to unsustainable heights. Identification with the masculine (spirited ego) and denigration and denial of the feminine (soul) deeply embedded in religious doctrines perpetuates this unnatural split forging a dangerous one-sided obsession with perfectionism, rationality and good as godly and everything else as evil. These out of balance forces (good/evil, spirit/soul, masculine/feminine, rational/irrational etc.) not only threaten our survival but every living species on this Earth.
DR BREN helps you to excavate and integrate the feminine and masculine energies into a fully integrated being.
In this chapter (chapter two) Kornfield likens the war in our head between all the ego voices to the wars in the world. He suggests the way to have peace in the world is to stop the war inside. He suggests that adapting to our society leads one into denial and addiction saying
We use addictions to support out denials.
To wake up to these voices can be overwhelming and depressing, but if you persist you will eventually find peace inside. The most important thing to remember when you begin to pay attention to the voices inside is to simply notice without judging. It’s important to NOTstart a war with these voices for that only exacerbates the war.
In Jungian terms the process of paying attention and accepting “what is” is called taking back one’s shadow because what gets denied gets repressed into our unconscious. It distorts reality. So to take back one’s shadow is to see wholly.
Another important point in this process of “stopping the war” is to NOT identify with the voices. You are the observer of the voices; that is your true self. The voices have created the false self or what Jung called the persona.
Here is the audio portion for chapter two.
How to recognize a midlife crisis?
- You have the desire to start over.
- Your marriage is stale.
- Your career is less than adequate.
- Your life seems rudderless.
- You feel more impulsive than ever.
- You just bought a brand new red convertible.
The midlife crisis has less to do with the passage of time than it has to do with psychological experience. That is, the ego achievements of the first half of life have been accomplished: you have a wife/husband, children, pets, home, career, car, Ipad, etc. But what you don’t have is happiness. It is at this specific moment in your life that you begin to wonder about your legacy – what impact will you have on the world?
The midlife crisis is a wakeup call sent from your alienated soul. The first half of life is the domain of ego. Childhood patterns developed to protect the ego unconsciously run your life. Up until now you have been living what I would call a societal egoic life. The rules and roles that run your life, unconsciously, are not your own. To say to someone — you are a chip off the old block — is very true. Until you consciously choose the values, roles, and rules you will live by, you are simply a chip off the old societal block. Who you think you are is what Jung called the persona, the mask you show the world. Midlife is the time to emerge as a unique individual soul.
It could be said that acting out the midlife crisis — having the affair, changing careers, buying the red convertible — is a defense against the reality of death. Said differently, the existential task of midlife is to make sense of your life before you die. This means a transfer of power from the unconscious ego, to the conscious soul. Death is a reality that is easy to deny in the first part of life, but cannot be denied in the second part of life, although there are huge industries — plastic surgery for one — built around helping you continue to deny death. That aside, death creeps in with every wrinkle, every gray hair, the flabby belly, the hormonal changes, and aging children.
So what is the cure for the midlife crisis?
The consciousness I am referring to is a state of being. It is not your identity (social persona); it is not your ego-consciousness; it is not your shadow (the part of your self you deny and repress). It is your ever-present self-awareness. Ego is focused on objects, obsessed with the past and the future, and leary of the present moment. Soul, on the other hand, is eternally present, alive and moving towards wholeness — its evolutionary purpose. Ego speaks in language; Soul speaks in symbols. Ego’s purpose is to protect the self from harm, and propagate the species. Soul’s purpose is to create, to love and move towards wholeness.
Jung outlined several steps in the project of one’s soul journey, a process he named individuation. They are:
- Encounter with the Shadow
- Encounter with your Soul-Image
- Encounter with your God-Image
- Emergence of the Self
I will talk more about these stages of individuation in another post. For now here is James Hollis, the author of The Middle Passage, identifying the end of the midlife crisis:
We know we have survived the midlife crisis when we no longer cling to who we were, no longer seek fame or fortune or the appearance of youth. The sense of life as a slow taking away, the inexorable exeperience of irreplaceable loss, is transformed by relinguishing the old ego attachments and affirming one’s deepening descent into the mystery. (Hollis, 1993, p. 113)
I’ve been meditating on Ken Wilber’s four quadrants and Jung’s model of psyche for years unable to reconcile the two, that is, until this morning when it occurred to me that I needed to separate Jung’s model of psyche into the inside and outside perspective of the upper left quadrant, the subjective quadrant (See Figure 1). The inside of the subjective accords with Jung’s idea of the soul, timeless and present. The outside of the subjective accords with the ego, embodied in time and space.
The core of the problem in reconciling the two models is that Jung’s model is topographical, a representation of the landscape of psyche at any point in time. Whereas, Wilber’s model is progressive, a representation of psyche in stages of development. The majority of Jung’s work dealt with bringing the ego into relationship with the self, or soul. So it makes good sense to break his model into two parts, one relating to the ego and the other relating to the soul or self.
Typically Jung’s model of the psyche is shown stacked with the lowest level being the collective unconscious and the highest level being consciousness. However, when I break Jung’s model into two parts it not only accords with Wilber’s work it begins to align with the bilobed brain (See Figure 2). The left hemisphere of the brain relates more to ego and the right hemisphere relates more to the soul.
In making this adjustment we see Jung’s concepts of persona and shadow as creations of a developing ego. Both of which are components of Jung’s personal unconscious. On the right side we see Jung’s concepts of Self and Anima/Animus as components of the collective unconscious in relations to the soul.
Why is it important to make these distinctions? Besides integrating Wilber’s great body of work with Jung’s, there is value in understanding the developmental stages of Jung’s concepts. What I mean to say is there are aspects of persona and shadow that relate directly to ego at specific stages of development. The persona we showed in 2nd grade is not the same persona we show as an adult. This applies to the shadow as well. In fact, all three concepts — ego, persona and shadow — relate to material world. Whereas, the three components of the collective unconscious — soul, Anima/Animus, and Self — relate to the spiritual world. The spiritual world is eternal in space where soul ascends states of consciousness to the highest step, the nondual. On the other hand, ego , trapped in the material world, is left to evolve in time through various levels of development.
Making these connections between the two models of psyche helps to reconcile Wilber’s idea of enlightenment and Jung’s idea of individuation. For Wilber enlightenment occurs for those who have mastered the highest level of development at this time and mastered the highest state of consciousness, the nondual. For Jung individuation occurs when one has mastered the personal unconscious and has ascended through the layers of the collective unconscious to the Self. There is an important distinction between the two. For Wilber enlightenment is I AM GOD. For Jung individuation is I AM IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. This is where Wilber’s idea of the 1st person and 2nd person perspective of God helps situate the two. Behind both the material world collapses.