Monday, December 31, 2012

Diabolical happiness or radical faith!

In moving into the new year of 2013, we come face to face with possibilities, perhaps hopes and dreams. This gives us an opportunity to take stock of what spiritual faith means. In New York Times article entitled, The Freedom of Faith (, matters of  human need and human conscience are addressed. Miracles, mystery, authority pull for religious subservience! The human psyche comes face to face with choice, to yield to that which is outside and demanding or to listen to that which comes from within and nourishes freedom.

The article refers to the famous passage in Fyodor Dostoevsky's, The Brother's Karamozov, where Jesus has been imprisoned by the Church and is being questioned by the Grand Inquisitor:  “We have corrected Thy work and founded it on miracle, mystery and authority. . . .Why has Thou come to hinder us?” In this, one of the greatest novels of all time, we witness the confrontation of religious imperialism, exposed as having coming into leagues with dark forces that manipulate human need and force the human soul into subjugation.

Diabolical happiness provides the contentment of ready made answers to complex questions. Black is black, white is white, goes this mentality. In reality, as humans we struggle. Yes, we have faith, but a faith that is always tempered by a healthy dose of doubt and ongoing openness.  2013, a new year, of exploration along the path of the soul, the avenue of fervent faith in all that is human, open, and free!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

End of the World!

The end of the world has been happening for quite some time. Dreams from patients, family, friends, myself have signaled the passing of the old and coming of the new. Energy does not end, it transforms itself!

Transformation typically happens with turbulence and oftentimes a wish that, if possible, things could just stay the same. We're used to how things have been, familiar with the tried and true; but, sometimes what's been for a long time needs to pass on, and we need to let it.

Ending the Mayan calendar symbolizes a profound psychic transformation in which old religious perspectives need to and are passing on. Religious institutions that once ruled the land no longer carry the emotional or spiritual sway they once did. Old religions pass away because a new psychic attitude is being birthed.

Entering fully into the Age of Aquarius calls us to take personal stock of where we are, have been, and seem to be moving spiritually. Each of us, in our own unique way, hears the voice of life, the archetypal energy and way of all things. This voiceless voice, tender inspiration, and intuitive nudging during waking life and deep sleep usher us into change.

Psychic change is what the end this cycle of time is all about. Increasingly, dreams speak to humankind evolving into a more advanced spiritual state. The end of the world, of this era in time, is perhaps best summed up by Hermes, trickster and god of transitions. He appeared to an ardent seeker in a dream. Placing his right index finger to his lips, he waved the dreamer forward. Only those with ears to hear and an open heart could follow. The dreamer stepped ahead, into a world, a new realm that was both outer and inner, colors and textures rich and dark, brilliant, radiant, challenging, and hopeful. Hermes whispered, "This is an ending...and a beginning!"  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Down in the Dumps!

Down in the dumps happens when life calls us to turn inside and listen. Usually we're so caught up by emotional commotion and outside dilemmas that we haven't listened to what's going on inside us.  So....we get depressed....the psyche's way of saying slow down, listen, and let's see what's what!

Depression actually is trying to rescue us from ourselves. It tugs us inside soul so we can take a deep look into self. Of course, we're usually scared to go deep into the heart of things. That's why we're caught up in the outer drama and commotion to begin with. It seems so much easier to skate on the surface of things, thinking that things just happen. Well, things do happen and there's always something to them.

When we take time to see what's what, it's not unusual to find out that we've been out of balance. Maybe, we've been trying to run from emotions, or relationship problems, or perhaps we're going down a wrong direction in life.  To keep taking a wrong direction ends us up in needless and often total misery.

Depression is a helper. It helps us to get something out of going into the dumps.  A parent told me that after months of being depressed they gave into the fact that they were working too much and spending too little time with their children. They listened to the message that the depression brought and were saved from themselves! Their depression eased as they learned to live a more balanced life.

Going down and into the dumps gives us an opportunity to learn, make adjustments, and emerge shaken but perhaps a little more enlightened.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What's eating at me?

What's eating at  me is something we can ask whenever we can't get over or through the bad feelings that keep swirling through us. We try and shake them off, talk ourselves out of them, try all sorts of therapy gimmicks, take mind altering drugs,  do too much yoga or meditation, or try a geographical cure...just move somewhere else and everything will be better. The fact is that something is eating away at us on the inside because we are running from psychic shadows, things we need to know and face about ourselves.

Running, running, running from the shadow is about as helpful as seeing our actual shadow under the noonday sun and attempting to flee from it. Sure pops up right up again. Wherever we go the shadow follows. It's made up of pains and possibilities. Stop and ask yourself, "What is it I really don't want to face about myself right now?" Chances are your unconscious will send something to the front and center of your mind. It might be, "Let go of that know it's never been good. Move on." Or, the quiet inner voice might say, "Take time, slow down, spend time with her (him). It's what'll see things through for you." Other insights could include, "Take care of your body...Slow down, you move too fast..." So, running from the shadow, what's eating at us, is best dealt with by quieting ourselves, listening to what the psyche has to say.

What's eating at us shows up in dreams as shadow figures, dark beings, who hold healing potential. William James, father of American depth psychology, wrote that authentic mystic revelation is "philosophically reasonable."  The shadow frightens us, we want to run; but if we take time and face what's eating at us we can discover reasonable alternatives to less than healthy or whole attitudes in our life. Bad feelings eating away us give us a chance to face ourselves and find out scary stuff that in the end might just prove reasonable and helpful!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Practical Hermes

Hermes, archetypal energy of all that is helpful, shows up in dreams or  life events when we most need a jolt, a surprise, a mind blowing change of attitude. Who among us doesn't need from time to time, or regularly, to be turned inside out, upside down,  and then mentally righted so that we can see that we weren't  following our path. Hermes whispers or speaks loudly or shouts to us in synchronous life events, through sudden intuitive flashes, or in breath taking dreams or nightmares. When Hermes is present in our life and dreams we know it because we're startled, taken by surprise, shocked into a new way of seeing things that makes a practical difference!

He comes as a trickster in dreams, unthought of ideas that clear out cobwebs of mind, or shows up in life events that appear totally whacky, out of the ordinary, and end up providing immense help. Hermes is a practical god, an archetypal energy that can be accessed by the human psyche, so as to get the help we need when we need it. It happens as an energetic pulse or flow or, what William James (father of American Psychology) referred to as a "raw emotional voltage".

In depth psychology Hermes is considered the most helpful of gods. Once we know he's there then it's as if we start witnessing his workings everywhere! Help of the practical variety comes to us here and there and everywhere, through unexpected encounters, chance meetings, things taking place that we would have never imagined happening. Hermes, his magical antics and mind bending and altering jolts, ushers us back onto or further along the way that is meant for us to walk in life.

Now we know he's there, beware....the god of all things mischievous and helpful looks our way and inevitably, indubitably, most assuredly, will materialize the surprise that pulls us back three paces after having taken two but is all right because we were off in the wrong direction to begin with!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trauma and a Child's Psyche!

Trauma invades a child's mind through neglect, abuse, parental divorce, poverty, bad nutrition, chronic parental fighting, and anything else that goes on and on and damages a vulnerable human life. David Brooks in his September 27, 2012 new York Times article, The Psych Approach, reports that the effects of childhood trauma, left untreated into adulthood,  can be staggering: seven times the likelihood of alcoholism, six times more likely to have had sex before age 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, four times as likely to be diagnosed with emphysema, increased chance of behavioral problems in school, impaired learning ability, decreased resilience, equanimity, and self control.

Helping a  traumatized child's psyche to heal via therapy, implementing psychological programs in the schools, and increasing parental and community education sets in motion the possibility that traumatized children can make their way successfully in life despite significant early emotional injuries and setbacks. The human psyche is resilient but needs help to heal when there has been trauma. Parents and others in authority can start the healing process by sensitizing themselves to the reality of childhood trauma rather than thinking, like I so often hear, "the kid'll just have to get over it."

Kids don't just get over trauma. They need the assistance of adults who are willing to move past denial and call trauma TRAUMA. This also applies to adults and their own inner child who still remembers and bears the scars of childhood. Consciousness calls us into greater sensitivity to our own inner child, to our own need to obtain the healing we need. Kids don't just get over trauma, but they can be helped to heal by our caring and sensitivity to the reality of trauma and the reality that the first step toward healing is facing truth and knowing that ultimately truth has the potential to set us free!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Traumatized Goddess...Woman!

Suffering goddesses is a image that I have meditated on for over thirty years of treating women who have suffered bodily, often related to childhood neglect and abuse. When the mind is in pain, the body cries out goes the old adage in depth psychology. A woman's body takes in pain differently that a man's and the pain often lingers through adulthood when childhood trauma has been severe and chronic.

Menopause brings its own sort of trauma, one that can often trigger in the brain a sense of once again being assaulted. The brain then goes into overdrive and sometimes proves difficult to soothe. Stress hormones run rampant, the brain perhaps associating menopause with traumas from childhood. A hypervigilant mind sees one trauma as just like the other. 

A New York psychoanalytic colleague and I were speaking about this during the past week. He asked, "What is the equivalent in an adult male?"  I answered, "Absolutely nothing!"  From menstruation to child birthing to menopause, a woman's body undergoes extreme physical challenges and pain. A history of childhood abuse triggers an association in the brain and it begins to fire off stress hormones as though the woman is once again being abused! There is no equivalent for a man.

The great dark goddess Kali, surfaces as the symbol of the powerful energy in a woman that can transform the darkness of trauma to consciousness and light, a greater sensitivity to the ongoing need for healing of the body and psychic self. She reveals a profound spiritual radiance that lies in potential for women who have suffered trauma. Kali is the demon destroyer, clearing through brutalities inflicted by damaged egos, offering healing energy hidden in secret places. 

As I shared with my colleague, "I believe it's the task for us men to raise our consciousness about the traumatized goddesses in our lives, to encourage and help with the ongoing, often life long, healing of a woman's body and psychic self. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hurry Sickness....Mind Madness!

Hurry sickness spins an awful spell. It whispers in our ear that doing just a little more will make everything better. Pretty soon we’re going fast to cram more into less time. When we listen to the titillating promise of more we inevitably end with a twisted gut and a fried brain.

Mind madness symptoms include irritability, quick temper, an empty pit in the center of the stomach. Worse, there’s a feeling of soul loss. Suffering soul loss can happen during the course of one day or less. This isn’t like the old religious notion of hell fire and damnation; it’s more like feeling so out of sorts that you don’t know who you are anymore and nothing satisfies you. Soul loss translates to mind madness translates to a sort of rats scratching at the wall of your mind stress and unhappiness.

Nothing helps to get us back on track like what my fellow New Mexicans speak of as switching to a mode of going low and slow. The conscious ego of a sincere person can take things down a notch, or a legion of notches, so that soul can be found and settled back into. Mind madness then goes the way of the Gerasene demoniac, a definite exorcism of hurry sickness and the psychic devils that whip up such an anxious maelstrom.

Low and slow settles us into soul and from there living is just a little more satisfying.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nervous Ego...Restless Life!

Nervous egos, a power-packed term in depth psychology, abound in contemporary society. Flitting from this to that, always spinning one emotional drama after another, might just be a way of concocting a false self that temporarily jettisons us into an artificial sense of being alive. Nervousness inevitably lets us down harder than a drop on our head to a concrete pavement.

Depth psychology inspires us into soulful living. Rather than engaging with hypomanic energy, being overtaken and perhaps possessed by the muse who lures us with seductions of doing more and more, faster and faster, thoughtfulness and a deliberate creative attitude guide the way into fulfillment, satisfying one's nature. "But, I'm afraid of losing the adrenaline high" so many people have told me as they struggle to heal from anxiety addicted living. Soon, they experience the natural high birthed from living, not from the outside in, but from the inside out, grounded, centered.

Research in mind/body medicine indicates that excess cortisol produced by chronic stress impairs brain functioning and negatively impacts overall health, potentially leading into debilitating disease states. Yielding to the insecurity that fuels the fire of the nervous ego ends us up smack dab down and out, depressed, since whatever goes up so high inevitably comes down so low. Adrenaline laced highs take their toll on body and soul.

Ancient wisdom inspires us to live in the Tao, the kingdom within, the wonder of the everlasting now. Nervous ego living is best counteracted with a changed attitude in which we cultivate soulfulness, a palpable sensation of being in touch with our depths and proceeding from there and only there. When we live from within ourselves, and don't get pulled outside of self, then nervousness can be transformed into depth. "I'm getting used to the heck out of emotional ups and downs," one sincere seeker reported...hard won wisdom.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Troubled Sleep...Restless Gods!

Troubled sleep...restless gods conjures an image of restless, sleepless nights, twisting and turning late into the night and into the early hours of the morning. No relief in sight for those wrestling with demons within and unresolved conflicts without. Troubled sleep signals a need for willingness to make the descent into dark realms and listen to the voices of the gods!

When we resist hearing what we need to hear, typically not wanting to make critical life changes, then we may suffer from troubled sleep. The mind can't rest and drift into the healing waters of sleep. A recent article in the New York Times tried to make a case for sleeping in chunks of time rather than long stretches. I wonder why we so badly would want to avoid the intimacy with soul that comes as we sleep for long stretches, popular research and media attempting to convince us to be skittish with soul, dart in and out, a sort of wham bang mentality with psyche.

Restful sleep draws into the arms of Morpheus, god of soothing and settling and dreams. As we let ourselves fall under the power of sleep, then Morpheus comes with symbols and images that waken us to new levels of consciousness. Wrestling with the gods is human; but, it's also best to realize that the gods are the gods and we are but humans, needful of letting go and letting sleep come and dreams come and the gods speak!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Eyes of God

Dreams are the eyes of God states a central maxim of depth psychology. I've come to understand that when we see through the eyes of the Dreamer then we cut to the chase regarding situations, relationships, ourselves. Dreams don't lie. A man, some years ago, told me that he dreamt of climbing a staircase that ascended to the heavens. There he discovered that "going up happened as I went within. I listened to my dreams and they showed me the way forward in my life. It brought changes that were frightening but necessary." He couldn't see his way through via the ego consciousness of daily life; instead he came to understand that dreaming permitted him to see through the eyes of God.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dark Goddess, Black Wolf

"In every kind of dream I am a black wolf...." So goes the provocative poem by Tina Chang entitled The Future is an Animal. It was shared with me by my daughter, Katherine, also a poet. The effect of it has lingered as images of transition and transformation emanate from each verse, reminding me that destiny is ever unfolding and that "the path goes on and on." God as intimate soul, as dark goddess, black wolf, deep calling unto deep, we awaken each day to the mysteries that the day will bring and in those mysteries discover that the psyche, "the mind is a miraculous ember."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dark Goddess and Dreams

Dreams of a dark goddess seem to be prolific in the sleep of sincere seekers. One after another I hear of folks wondering why a nightmare of the goddess awakens them. We so easily fall into an ego rut of wanting things to remain the same, to keep the status quo, especially regarding our spiritual outlook. Dreams of the dark goddess beckon us into an interiority and depth of consideration regarding old ways that may have worked for us in the past and no longer do so. Darkness within dreams signals potential for illumination and entrance into mystery.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

God as Intimate Soul

I've been reflecting on the concept of God as intimate soul. William James, father of American psychology and pioneer in psychology and spirituality, proposed this idea as a way of expressing a more personal and practical understanding of what organized religion has described essentially as an outer religious reality. Something so far off and away cannot be as close or real as that which lies within the human soul, in fact is one and the same experience as soul herself. Yes, I did say soul herself because the soul is exquisitely feminine. Sensitivity, depth, and multiple shades and nuances characterize soulfulness and a soulful way of life. We might even say that God is a She and that She lies in deep and mysterious realms within the human psyche!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breath and the Sacred Feminine

A practical spirituality bids us to look beyond the
confines of dogmatic religion and into natural states of soul in which heightened consciousness and consequent well being emerge just as freely as the unencumbered flow of a Rocky Mountain river. Water is a prime symbol of the sacred feminine. The human psyche, when healthy and attuned, finds its way to the River of Life, that which sustains it and can best be described as feminine and nourishing, soulful.

Breath highlights the quality of an individual’s state of mind. Shallow breathing indicates states that range from mild tension to high anxiety. There is no question that superficial breathing prohibits a quality experience of self, others and life. A person once confided that once they realized how short and quick their breaths were they really began to panic. It was as if the awareness brought to consciousness a fear for soul, so to speak. That is, without breaths that fill us, oxygenate our bodies and minds, we intuitively know that we are losing hold of ourselves.

This person explained it in terms of panic, the Great God Pan inducing a state of hyperarousal to call attention to imbalance within the psyche. Pan’s appearance in situations gives rise to the potential for change by drawing our energies to the sense of crisis and emergency at hand. As we are able to listen to this, then we can begin to wonder why it is that such intensity of emotion is required for us to engage in appropriate self reflection. The individual whom I mentioned was able to arrive at a point of facing what he was attempting to flee in his life. He didn’t want “to be bothered by it”, so became symptomatic, anxious. His symptoms of anxiety abated, breathing became deep and tranquil as he listened to the stirrings of Pan who essentially led him into an interiority, a calm mental realm, in which the sacred feminine was able to once again be experienced as equanimity and contentedness in life.

Pan serves as an intense repository of quickened and potentially transformative energy. As quickly as breath enters the lungs, a flash of inspiration communicates a quickening of perspective, a change of attitude, a new take on situations and people. A soulless ego is an ego bereft of the feminine element that allows inspiration to enter conscious thought. The receptivity that deep and rhythmic breathing signals calls forth the energy from psychic recesses and resources that act to generate change and healing. William James’ assertion that authentic being means knowing, an immediate perception of the nature of a given reality, comes to bear as inspiration from deep repositories of psychic energy brings immediate clarity, insight, to previously conflict ridden situations.

A gentleman shared a dream in which out of a gust of wind there appeared a coyote that looked at him quizzically. He awakened frightened, heart palpitating and short of breath. The trickster archetype in the guise of coyote brought a message to him, one that he came to realize as having to do with his responsiveness to the insight and inspiration of the moment. He tended to doubt himself, to second guess his instincts, living a constrained and consequently unhappy life. Quickened energy came in the form of the coyote, another aspect of trickster-pan numinosity, insight into the meaning of the symbol helping to free the gentleman toward a more spontaneous and inspired way of living.

The soul has been described as a vessel full of grace, the ultimate image and experience of the sacred feminine. We know that with each breath that we fully draw into ourselves the soul is nourished, mental faculties made open to heightened consciousness. The sacred feminine embodies that attitude of receptivity to consciousness that is imparted to us in the moment. It is nothing that can be contrived or anything that mental strain can attain; rather, the goddess comes and whispers in our ear what we need to hear at the moment we need to hear it as we cultivate a relaxed and yielded psychic openness.

Dreams, of course open us to the breath, the whisperings of the goddess; but, attention to breath itself can help to create a psychic receptivity that can take us by surprise. Outer events suddenly coming to together once we relax is the work of the goddess behind the scenes. A Nath yoga master once told me that the very atmosphere is charged with energy when a person engages in deep and rhythmic inhalation. Such energy is the energy of Shakti, the goddess of prana, the breath, life force that streams up the spinal column and into the life of the practitioner. Yogis claim that infusions of energy generate siddhis, miraculous powers, in the form of spontaneous healings and unexpected turns of tides in events. Shakti, sacred goddess of breath and the miraculous, is accessed when breathing becomes natural, rhythmic, spirituality an inherent life force that quickens the soul and turns the tide of life events. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breath, Dreams, and Numinous Presence

C.G. wrote, “The ego has to acknowledge many gods before it attains the centre where no god helps it any longer against any other god." At the center of the human experience there resides an instinctual capacity to discover numinous experience so as to be regularly nourished inwardly. In order to move into this realm of psychic knowing one often confronts ego based notions regarding the nature of the numinous, that it must be confined within dogmatic religion, that the experience of what is referred to as the holy or the sacred is nothing that can be attained by the common woman or man, that ego assertions regarding unworthiness should be listened to. These frail ego based arguments shield us from robust healing and growth associated with the forward moving, future oriented, trajectory of a healthy psyche. A particularly pernicious mother railed at her daughter, a woman who had been involved in her own depth therapy for many years, “Who do you think you are having your own religious ideas and thoughts? The church teaches what to believe and how to believe. Who are you compared to the church?” Toxic mother god and thwarting church god were both at work here, attempting to encroach on this woman’s individuation process via the introjected words of her mother.
One can sense the mother’s bad spirit, the foul breath of a curse being levied on the daughter. A curse breathed over the self via invectives from a destructive parent can literally maim and cripple psychic growth and development. Feelings of low energy and eventual depression undermine an individual whose soul has been polluted with foul energy especially when the damaging input has been spewed chronically from authoritative figures such as parents. Permitting oneself to be exposed to, repeatedly and over time be in the presence of one who so undermines psychic well being, inevitably ends poorly, in the suffocation of psychological functioning and possible soul loss. In my clinical experience, and within the tradition of depth psychology, the human psyche requires more than strictly relational intervention at this point; a numinous experience is required in order to mobilize healing when the psychological wounding has been chronic and spiritually pernicious.
The daughter found herself drawn into the study and practice of meditation as a way of deepening her own meaningful sense of personal spirituality. When she recounted all of this to me, she stated that she realized that in part she was “curling into myself to escape the horror of my mother’s presence and words.” On the other hand, she knew that there was also a more profound expression of self at the heart of her meditative journey. After two years of intensive meditative practice she entered into a life changing experience. “One afternoon while meditating, I felt the top of my head opening as if a thousand flowers were blossoming. There was such an infusion of light and well being that I though I wouldn’t survive.” When she emerged from this twilight state of consciousness, an obvious state of altered consciousness enveloped her and changed her life. From that point on this woman who had been desperately afraid of her mother experienced such a strong and well defined sense of self that dealing with a previously overpowering mother proved manageable, the entirety of her life now suffused with an equanimity and quality of self empowerment that she had never before known.
“It was as if a great rush of wind, a forceful breeze, made its way up my spine and literally took off the top of my head.” Numinosity flooded the entirety of her being, a quality of transcendence and spiritual presence so engulfing her that in the place of vulnerability she now knew safety and well being. Her dream that night was one of a beneficent maternal presence, one that “I couldn’t see with my literal eyes, but saw with interior vision”, breathed gently upon her and caused her to feel safe and “forever taken care of.” This numinous presence, a deity from the depths of the unconscious, arose as a compensatory factor due to developmental injury. When the literal mother is bad then the psyche compensates by providing a numinous encounter with a life giving deity who more than makes up for in adulthood what was not there in childhood. Bad spirit, in the form of a cursed breathed upon a child, is exorcised by the generative forces of the collective unconscious that seek to forever create wholeness. So, in the words of an ancient yogic text, we must “Remain present on to that Presence. Knowing that It is what is. Then It will reveal Itself in Its essence and in all Its glory."