Exploring the ideas of Carl Jung, alchemy and astrology, and their relevance for living a symbolic life, and a life full of meaning and richness in these days of chaos and uncertainty.
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
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
I love the morning especially the twilight time; that time just after dawn and before the first rays of the sun peek over the horizon. The day is full of promise, hope and new beginnings. I often walk Mina then. House lights are off; their occupants are still asleep. The streets are quiet. The occasional car drives by. Another early riser makes his or her way to the streetcar or subway.
I find inspiration during this quiet time. Sparks of ideas, intentions or intuitions grace me arriving from I do not know where. After I have walked Mina, I sit at my desk with my coffee. Overlooking the street, I connect with myself and the sun rises over the tree tops. This is my time. For 30 years, my morning ritual has included journaling, dream work, meditation and writing. (more…)
The Winter Solstice on December 21 brings with it mixed feelings. The growing darkness creates a need for introversion and contemplation. I am equally torn with the desire to be with family and friends. Eventually, being alone and introverted wins out. Solstice marks a turning point at the moment of the maximum darkness. Then there is a turning point where the light grows until June 21 when the process is again reversed. Psychologically and biologically, I feel that this time of turning is incredibly relevant even in these crazy times. (more…)
Asking big life questions is natural. The search for answers is understandable. Human beings are “meaning making” machines. We want to know our place in the order of things, and to make sense of our lives.Therefore, we ask big questions like why am I here, what is my purpose, and why do things keep happening to me? We read books. We attend workshops. We sit in therapist offices pondering. Some attend church services while others sit for long hours in meditation. (more…)
The thick veil of sleep peels back as I slowly become conscious of the growing light and awareness. It is morning. My first thought – “Where are the cats! ” There are no cat sounds. I am not hearing the squeaky little meows from Ellie- the more vocal of my two cats. Something is missing. She knows when I wake and she stalks around the bedroom in anticipation of being fed.
Ellie is quiet this morning but I feel her presence. I open one eye to find her sitting as usual on the top of Neema’s crate staring at me. She knows that something has changed. Closing my eyes again, I listen to the sounds. There are no sounds – only silence. A profound and deep emptiness pervades my bedroom this morning. The laboured breathing of a small dog is missing. This morning, Neema is not in her crate which has been beside my bed for eight years since I rescued her. This is the first morning without her – a daunting fact that hits home. (more…)
When our emotional river is calm, we are centered and peaceful. We are aware of, can control, and express our emotions in a coherent way. We are able to handle our interpersonal relationships judiciously and sympathetically. We trust in our ourselves, in our own experience and in our emotional intelligence.
In developing the capacity of emotional intelligence, our lives develop in a generative way. And, there is a direct benefit to our mental health and satisfaction with life. The studies have proven this over and over that our emotions are important and they are essential guides to how we live our life.
David Richo in his book “How to be an adult in relationship” identifies five capacities that are barometers for our emotional intelligence. They are . . . (more…)
Depression is a major cause of suffering for many many people. It is an isolating condition in which people find that what they once knew about themselves falls away. Feelings of despair, fear, anxiety and overwhelm overtake one. Even the small things in life become very difficult.
The devastating consequences of depression made headlines with the suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams in August 2014; again raising public awareness about this disorder. According to a study published in 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canadians are among the biggest users of antidepressants in the world. In North America, depressive disorders are the most common diagnosis encountered through Employee Assistance Programs. The economic impact of mood disorders through stress leave, short-term disability and sick time taken is staggering.
Psychiatry focuses on eliminating the symptoms of depression through pharmacology or cognitive behaviour techniques, in an attempt to reduce its debilitating effects and support the return to daily functioning. These treatments are successful in do that. They do however also eradicate the inherent meaningful suffering hidden in the symbol of the depressive symptoms. St. Augustine, the 5th century theologian who suffered from severe bouts of depression, described the disease not of the body but of the soul, and a mark of the disconnection from God. (more…)