Alchemical Reflections

Navigating the Shame of Failure: How to look at it as an opportunity

Posted by on Nov 17, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | 0 comments

Navigating the Shame of Failure: How to look at it as an opportunity

The “F” Word

This month, when I was running errands or overhearing people speaking on the street, the concept of failure was the subject of many conversations. In fact, the topic came up so much that I just felt drawn to explore it and break down how the F-word – Failure – can be reframed in such a way that becomes an opportunity.

A handsome well-dressed man his mid-40s sits in front of me. By every societal measure, he is a success. He has an executive position with a lot of responsibility, he owns his home, and he has a loving family whom he adores. As we talk about his passions and desires, his shoulders slump. He drops his head. His body language speaks of defeat and disappointment and he hasn’t even said a word yet. He tells me a story about when he was younger and arrived home with an elated feeling of pride because he received 90% on a test that he worked so hard to achieve. He was bounding with joy and anticipation to share the exciting news with his father. Instead of receiving the longed-for pat on the back, his father said, “why didn’t you get 100%” and turned away. It was a decisive moment in this man’s young life. Since then, his life has been unconsciously driven by his performance complex and compulsive need for perfection.

He tells me why he isn’t willing to take an action towards something that he has been longing to do for a long time. He has consistently been making the safe choices. But even he can admit that there is something deeper inside that is calling for – demanding even – that he breaks out of the box and starts taking a risk.

“There is no room for failure”, he tells me.

(more…)

The Art of the Apology – Five Elements to Restore Connection

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on The Art of the Apology – Five Elements to Restore Connection

The Art of the Apology – Five Elements to Restore Connection

Introduction

For me, birthdays are catalysts for looking back. In the marking of another year, I know I am closer to the end than to the beginning. Sometimes, I feel proud about the year behind me, and sometimes not. This year, I had some regrets. This birthday, my mind turned to past relationships where I messed up and where my past actions led to an ending of a connection that was very important to me. While the specifics are not important, my reflection focused on how I handled a conflict and avoided opening myself up to my vulnerability. Had I done so, a repair in the relationship might have occurred.
(more…)

Who am I? Identity as Path

Posted by on Sep 23, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on Who am I? Identity as Path

Who am I? Identity as Path

Who am I?

Identity is so fundamental to how we participate in the world. It is multi-layered and hard to define. For many people, who we say we are, rests in our roles defined by profession and relationships. Is that who we are? For others, who we are is defined by self-talk and shame. However, can we really rely on our self-talk to give us an accurate assessment of our strengths, weaknesses, gifts and talents? Then there is how our country of birth, our gender, our cultural identity or our religious affiliation define who are. But is that who we are?   (more…)

How much can we really change – Alchemy and transformation

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on How much can we really change – Alchemy and transformation

How much can we really change – Alchemy and transformation

What can we expect in terms of the psychotherapeutic process?

If we embark on a psycho-spiritual journey, what can we reasonability expect? Can we really change? How much can we change about ourselves?

Alchemy as a metaphor for transformation

Through the decades of exploring the human psyche, C.G. Jung used the metaphor of alchemy for the individuation process. Because the core of alchemy is the transformation of lead into gold,  through the analytic process, we transform the base aspects of ourselves into something more refined. Thus, alchemy is a metaphor for human transformation. The transmutation of non-precious metals into gold is a symbol for the soul being freed from a “dead, leaden state of mind,” to realize its potential and to live its experiment in this life.  We can think of the alchemical process as a process of purification of our undifferentiated selves to reveal our essential and authentic self. (more…)

Why Do We Trust? Elements of Safe Relationships

Posted by on Jun 25, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on Why Do We Trust? Elements of Safe Relationships

Why Do We Trust?  Elements of Safe Relationships

“I will never trust anyone ever again”

How many times have we said this to ourselves out of being betrayed or hurt by a relationship. We are so quick to judge; so quick to adopt a defensive self-protective stance against trust to ensure that we are never hurt again.  Commonly, the origins of this stance are in our childhoods when we are young, vulnerable and powerless to effectively change our circumstances.  Our survival mechanism kicks in and justifiably so. However as we grow up, we can miss out on valuable connections and relationships with others.

Someone, who I had known for years,  said to me “I don’t trust you.”  I was surprised and speechless because I felt that the relationship was solid. It was painful to hear; and I wasn’t sure what to do with the information. However, I knew that the statement “I don’t trust you” had ended any safety and security that might have existed on both sides of the relationship equation.

The conversation started a deep dive. Am I not trustworthy? Do I not engender trust in my relationships? What behaviours do I have that damage trust? Is there something I am not aware of? I wanted to learn more. What is trust? What are the elements of trust that we intuitive feel in  relationship.   (more…)

Letting your Life Speak – The Gentle Art of Individuation

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on Letting your Life Speak – The Gentle Art of Individuation

Letting your Life Speak – The Gentle Art of Individuation

“Ask me whether what I have done is my life.”

William Stafford

Let Your Life Speak

Sometime ago, I discovered an old Quaker saying – “Let your life speak” – in a book by Parker Palmer. Palmer is a writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in community, leadership, spirituality and social change; and is the author of Let Your Life Speak. The Quakers lived their lives by letting the highest truths and values guide everything they do.

In the book, Palmer writes about his struggles and life challenges.  He finds meaning by looking at life differently. He writes: “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent . . . . Life that I am living is different from the life that wants to live in me. I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden lie the river beneath the ice”.

Parker Palmer captures the spirit of Jung’s idea of individuation, that our lives are guided and moved by energies that are larger than our egos. (more…)

Finding Gold in Mud – The role of integrity in shadow work

Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on Finding Gold in Mud – The role of integrity in shadow work

Finding Gold in Mud – The role of integrity in shadow work

Integrity – the Golden Key to Individuation

I will never forget the day that I was presented to the concept of integrity. It was early in my analysis. For several years, I had been tipping toeing around a core issue. That morning, I woke up resolved to come clean about a nasty and unpleasant side of myself – or at least that is what I thought. As I climbed the rickety old wood stairs leading to my analyst’s 3rd floor office, the shame intensified with each step. By the time, I sat in the chair, I needed to muster all my courage to admit the thing that I would do anything not to admit.

She was quiet for a long time. Her face was calm, peaceful, and reflective. My anxiety deepened with each passing second. My mind raced anticipating all the things that she could possibly say in response. Then, she threw a monkey wrench into my psyche – a proverbial stick in the wheels of my habitual thinking. “Yes, I have known this for awhile.” After a slight pause, she said “What I remember the most about people is the integrity that they bring to the work.”

What! I thought I had done a pretty good job of hiding out. It was rude awakening to realize that my shadow was in plain view.  (more…)

The Curious and Paradoxical Nature of Limiting Beliefs

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on The Curious and Paradoxical Nature of Limiting Beliefs

The Curious and Paradoxical Nature of Limiting Beliefs

Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your character
Your character becomes your destiny.  –  M. GANDHI

What are your beliefs?

Beliefs are curious things. We make them up then they form the bedrock of how we live our lives. There are positive beliefs that support us and contribute to feelings of happiness and health. There are limiting/negative beliefs that don’t support us. Instead, theycontribute to feelings of unhappiness and dis-ease. Paradoxically they aren’t necessarily true!

For example, human beings once believed that the world was flat. Ships venturing past the horizon would eventually fall off into an abyss. We know that this is not true. It was a cosmology that Christopher Columbus overcame before he set sail and discovered the Americas.

Another example comes from Buddhism. There is a famous story of a group of blind men who touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement. They fight about what the elephant is. Each is convinced that they are right about his interpretation. They are all right and all are wrong because they only have a limited perspective.

The story highlights that our beliefs hold only one perspective and don’t necessarily hold the full truth of reality.   (more…)

The Symbol of Easter – Surrendering to the Mystery

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on The Symbol of Easter – Surrendering to the Mystery

The Symbol of Easter – Surrendering to the Mystery

Spiritual Transformation of the Easter Ritual

All great wisdom traditions have a story of spiritual transformation. We see that these stories are important psychological experiences. They all reflect a descent followed by emergence. The themes around Good Friday and the crucifixion are particularly relevant to the individuation process: the life long journey towards psychological wholeness and to live the Self’s experiment in life. (more…)

Struggling with conflict? The nature of duality and tension of the opposites

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Alchemical Reflections, From The Blog | Comments Off on Struggling with conflict? The nature of duality and tension of the opposites

Struggling with conflict?  The nature of duality and tension of the opposites

Duality on the Subway

Late one Saturday night, I was on the subway travelling home from a wonderful evening at a writer’s studio. I had given myself concentrated time to write about the experience of duality and then unity with the Divine for the upcoming Gateways to the Divine Workshop. My intention was to map out the workshop and to write about my personal experience. Writing was hard. I wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to say. I read and pulled what I could from my psyche. I was full of ideas; however, the writing wasn’t easy. I was frustrated with myself.

As the universe sometimes does, travelling home, I was given an experience which offered a poignant mirror of the trouble that I was having with my writing. I was getting ahead of myself, jumping to the end of the story rather than understanding the process.   (more…)

error: Alert: Content is protected !!