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Being in the Now

Photo Credit: Hamed Saber

In the Shadow of a Flower by Hamed Saber via Flickr

By Dr. Jennifer Howard

For over 20 years, I have been working with clients, both as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. There has been a lot of recent attention given to the topic of “being in the now” and “being in the present moment.” This experience can be life changing, lasting minutes, hours, days, a lifetime or can come and go. There is a common thread that people experience when they move into “being in the now.” It is an opening into an inner stillness and a distinct feeling of a background and foreground shift. This opening is a taste of the Divine or Universe or God which rightly feeds our spiritual longing for more.

This concept is not new; spiritual paths have always talked about being in the present and being in the now. Some spiritual teachers and great sages have shared their experience of waking up one morning in this state of grace and never going back to ordinary consciousness or suffering. For most of us though, achieving this oneness takes the same quality it takes to get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.

What ever we see as our ultimate spiritual goal, living in the present moment deepens our experience. Depending on your religious affiliation and predilection, the experience of being in the moment is also being with God. That is what all the great spiritual leaders have found for themselves and have taught others. I can name countless wonderful books and teachers that speak of being and living in the present moment. Every tradition has its mystical teachings that speak of unity consciousness and all-at-one-ment.

What do we do when we are unable to sustain being in the now? Just know that when it comes to transformation there is no quick fix for most of us. Spiritual by-passing, jumping over or getting rid of the ego, can feel like a futile endeavor. It may work for a while but for authentic movement toward finding our wholeness, we must be impeccable in our observation of what is inside of us.

What most of us will find is that we do worry about the future and react from the past. This is all part of our human journey. Taking the next step involves dealing head on with what ever arises in the moment, whether it is a worry or a fear. Difficulties are an opportunity to start building our muscles toward being in the present. Being with the truth of what ever arises creates a healthy ego.

Psychotherapy, as well as many spiritual practices, can help us deal with those internal thoughts and feelings from our personal histories that cause our suffering.

Let’s remember that when we work with the ego and our humanity, we can integrate into a consciousness that is healed enough to tolerate whatever life brings. Doing this develops personal maturity and an unshakable sense of “self” allowing the ego to relax which helps sustain and stabilize “being in the now.”

About the Author:

Dr. Jennifer Howard is a licensed psychotherapist, healer, author, relationship counselor, and professional speaker with more than 20 years of experience in helping people make changes in their lives. She’s created a personal development plan and assists people in personal development and spiritual growth through her lectures, workshops, and her upcoming book, Changes That Last. She has offices in Huntington, Long Island, NY, and New York City, is a leading expert on spirituality and psychology, and is a former faculty of the graduate program of A Society of Souls. Dr. Howard has been frequently seen as an expert and featured guest on national television shows including, The Maury Povich Show, Turning Point, America’s Talking, Rolanda, Charles Perez, Les Brown and others. Right now, Dr. Howard is offering a free downloadable MP3 of her recent lecture, “The Intelligence of the Heart” to anyone who subscribes to her free ezine. Along with the free MP3 members of the site can read articles written by Dr. Howard, gain access to the online Virtual Meditation Room with guided and visual meditations, and more. For more about, Click Here.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comBeing in the Now

Note – Since this article was first published, there have been some changes to articlesbase.com. I have simply left the original links intact. — MC

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Some reflections on Carl Gustav Jung

Vision by Cornelia Kopp via Flickr

I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will… win the battle — C. G. Jung

I’ve been thinking about the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) for about three decades. Quite a few biographies have been written about Jung. Some writers are keen on recon-structing his early childhood, family influences, and so on. But as I grow older I’m becoming less interested in Jung’s personal life. I know enough of the backdrop – outlandish parties, extramarital infidelities, kissing up to the Nazi bureaucracy – to keep everything in context.

I’m more interested in Jung’s intellectual legacy. So when I talk about Jung its usually to introduce some of my own ideas about psychology, spirituality, and the journey to everlasting life.

Once a close friend and colleague of Sigmund Freud, in the early days of his remarkable career Jung found in Freud something of a kindly father figure. The elder Jew regarded the younger gentile as his star pupil among several luminaries in the emerging school of psychoanalysis. As a non-Jew, Jung was in a better position to help spread Freud’s psychoanalytic movement within a central Europe marked by anti-Semitism. But the two intellectual titans split in 1914 over a number of personal and professional differences, most notably, Jung’s rejection of Freud’s increasingly dogmatic insistence on the primacy of the libido.

What the critics say

Jung, himself, has been criticized on many counts. Conservative Christians see him as a dangerous, demonic threat, citing select quotations of his work which apparently support their arguments while ignoring, as extremists usually do, those aspects which would refute them.1 Despite this conservative backlash, Jungian ideas continue to be taken seriously in popular Catholic literature, just as some of Luther’s ideas are said to agree with core Catholic teaching. Meanwhile, parapsychologists and spiritualists, usually scorned by traditional Christians, often say that Jung’s theory is limiting.2

Until recently, the major figures in Western cultural studies and rationalism largely ignored Jung in favor of Freud. Freud’s emphasis on sexuality, sublimation and the idea of the phallus resonated with neo-Marxist and postmodern interests.

As for those who took the time to actually read Jung, his work was often dismissed as a kind of fuzzy mysticism riddled with modernist stereotypes and elements of racism. Accordingly, a body of historical reconstruction emerged, claiming that Jung kowtowed to Hitler and the Nazi Party.3

Philosophers of logic tend to wince at the very thought of Jung. Most philosophers say that his arguments contain far too many assumptions to merit any kind of serious consideration. Not only philosophers, but many in religious studies say that Jung’s analogical use of mythological and religious ideas is weak because his data is removed from historical contexts. In disconnecting religious ideas from their originally intended meanings, Jung has been heavily criticized for distorting data to make it fit his own theory.4 Moreover, feminist and women’s studies analyses suggest that his views are sexist.5

Alchemical Images Courtesy The Alchemy Web Site

Another way to understand Jung’s work looks at the big picture. By appreciating his lasting contribution to the history of ideas, value is found not so much in Jung’s theoretical particulars but rather, in his spirit of innovation and genuine concern to synthesize depth psychology, empirical observation and rationality. Writing about Jung, Naomi Goldenberg says that Jung apparently was happy to be “Jung and not a Jungian.” As a Jungian one might slavishly follow the Grand Master without thinking for him or herself. But Jung, himself, was free to revise his theories according to his ongoing thoughts and observations.6

Among Jung’s wide ranging interests, his work on projection, the shadow, inflation, symbols, numinosity, synchronicity and the collective unconscious seem most useful.7 Not unlike Gandhi who said “be the change you want to see in the world,” Jung advocated self-knowledge as an essential component for personal and societal transformation. To make this happen, Jung believed that we had actively master the unconscious. For Jung, no amount of abstract talk without doing the real work of inner change would have any kind of lasting effect on outer change.

Jung also believed that a failure to control the powerful impulses of the unconscious could result in a kind of Dorian Gray scenario where the unconscious gradually comes to control the individual and society as a whole.

The collective unconscious: Is Freud so different?

Freud and Jung’s views about the unconscious differ, but not so much as most believe. Some pop psychologists and New Age gurus quickly dismiss Freud’s ideas, unaware that his model of the unconscious contains collective elements. They prefer Jung’s notion of the archetypes, which borrows from ideas previously found in anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religion and theology (the term archetype is actually traceable to St. Augustine, 354-430 CE).

Jung describes the archetype as a component of mankind’s psychological substratum—the collective unconscious. Freud similarly spoke of phylogenetic “schemata” and “prototypes.” And borrowing from ancient Greek and Jewish literature, Freud also devised the “Oedipus complex,” a “primal father” and likened the shadowy contents of the unconscious to archaeological ruins.

In addition, late in his career Freud revised his libido theory to include the general ideas of eros (life instinct) and thanatos (death instinct). Because Freud maintained that the fundamental aspects of the unconscious are universal, aspects of his theory of the self, like Jung’s, point to a collective unconscious.8 And not only that. Freud himself said that Jung introduced nothing new with the idea of the collective unconscious, for the “content of the unconscious is collective anyhow.”9

Küsnacht

C. G. Jung at Küsnacht

Archetypes and the Unconscious

But Jung and Freud differ in that Jung’s archetypal theory elaborates on the unconscious to a greater degree than Freud’s rather basic schema of id, ego and superego.10 Jung’s archetypes, however, have themselves been criticized as ambiguous, simplistic constructs. On the charge of ambiguity, Jungians reply that archetypes are necessarily mysterious since they consist of matter/energy and a wide range of numinous potentials. Grounded in human experience, the archetypes transcend our conventional understanding of space and time. They are categories which to some extent explode contemporary assumptions about categories.

The archetypes point to essential mysteries or, in Jung’s way of speaking, they invite and sometimes demand an extraordinary encounter with the numinous. As for the apparent simplicity of the archetypes, Jungians reply that the archetypes, proper, are relatively few but their cultural expression as archetypal images are limitless.

Depth psychologist James Hillman notes that the archetypes are just another construct and should not be taken as realities in themselves. This may surprise some but Jung, himself, knew full well that his apparently ‘scientific’ work was just another myth that he believed was more appropriate for moderns times. The pseudoscientific nature of Jung’s work did not deter him. He believed his new myth was necessary. And his growing popularity seems to confirm that belief.11

Along these lines, Jung said the master archetype is that of the self, which directly or indirectly involves all lesser archetypes. As we journey through certain stages in life, the self strives to unify apparent contradictions. For Jung this process of becoming whole, called individuation, involves a multidimensional union of opposites and by implication, the experience of synchronicity and numinosity. And these two ideas of synchronicity and numinosity arguably raised Western psychology to a new plateau only hinted at by researchers such as Abraham Maslow, Alfred Alder and William James.12

Like his old mentor Freud, Jung sought to devise a fresh, meaningful map of the psyche. He sincerely tried to integrate the personal, social and spiritual dimensions of the self. A brilliant innovator, Jung anticipated the limitations that would inevitably compromise his working model. But despite these limitations, his ideas still inspire half a century after his passing.

Notes

1 Fundamentalist Christian attacks against Jung seem to abstractly echo a frightening past of Inquisitions and the torture of so-called witches, a kind of mindset where it’s easier to demonize people on the basis of incomplete data instead of carefully assessing what they have to say. See, for instance, Marsha West’s: Carl Jung: Psychologist or Sorcerer?. Jung himself says that as a practicing psychiatrist he never tried to change his clients’ religious beliefs if they were happy with them. He did critique Christian churches, but his critique was intended to help those receiving no spiritual comfort within those traditions. And his critiques were not one-sided diatribes. For instance, the Protestant Jung commended the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950 because he felt that it solidified an important feminine element within Christian belief and practice. And because Catholicism now highlights the importance of freedom of religious belief, Catholic pogroms against those interested in Jung’s model arguably come from those Catholics unable to appreciate the fullness of Catholic thought.

2 Ram Dass, for instance, said in The Only Dance There Is that Jung is afraid to go beyond identifying with the role of the famous psychologist. Dass says Jung fears taking the next step into mysticism.

3 The best example being Maidenbaum and Martin’s Lingering Shadows: Jungians, Freudians, and anti-Semitism.

4 See my papers Integration and the Orient and Ego, Archetype and Self.

5 Naomi Goldenberg, “Looking at Jung Looking at Himself,” Soundings, 73/2-3 (Summer/Fall 1990).

6 Ibid. Several recent Jungians claim to explore the psyche in the spirit of Jung, not being bound by any kind of Jungian dogma. To what extent they succeed arguably varies from theorist to theorist.

7 These concepts are accurately defined in Daryl Sharp’s Jung Lexicon.

8 Michael V. Adams illustrates this point in The Cambridge Companion to Jung, (ed.) Polly Young-Eisendrath and Terence Dawson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 101.

9 Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, p. 209, cited in R. J. Lifton with Eric Olson (eds.), Explorations in Psychohistory: The Wellfleet Papers, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1974 p. 90.

10 Some of Jung’s archetypes are listed here.

11 Some old school Jungians, being tied to their tidy Jungian teachings, are unwilling to further develop Jung’s concepts or, perhaps, see them in the postmodern sense of the “three C’s,” where context and connotation are taken as an important part of content.

12 More recently, Stanislav Grof and a handful of others have built on Jung’s thought with a holotropic model of the self.

Some reflections on Carl Gustav Jung Copyright © Michael Clark.


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Can Spirituality Be An Escape?

 HALLUCINATION_RETRIEVAL_SAILF ... by gmayster01

" HALLUCINATION_RETRIEVAL_SAILF ..." by gmayster01

I had a friend who learned Transcendental Meditation and practiced almost every day. She felt happier, more relaxed, even blissful as long as she meditated. If she missed a few days, she found that she didn’t feel much different than before she began to meditate. Although she felt better when she meditated, it wasn’t solving her underlying problems.

I’ve known many people who’ve used spirituality and meditation as a way of avoiding dealing with their issues. Since they feel good when they’re pursuing a spiritual path, guru, or new technique, they think that will make all the uncomfortable stuff dissolve and go away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Spirituality is no more a magic bullet than anything else.

According to Lawrence LeShan, a psychotherapist, meditation teacher and author of “How To Meditate,” meditation can help strengthen the structure of our personality, making us better able to deal with our challenges. And it may give us more insight into our issues, but meditation doesn’t do away with them. It may reduce overall anxiety, make us feel safe, therefore better able to face ourselves, but we still need to do the internal work needed to bring about change.

Anything that allows us to feel bliss and euphoria, whether it’s drugs, lust, romatic love, alcohol, achievement, spirituality or meditation, can become addicting. We become enthralled to the feeling and want to repeat it as often as possible. It makes the bad feelings fade away. Spirituality is a healthier escape than any of the others, but it still can be an escape. We need to ask ourselves, “What am I trying to escape from or avoid?”

There needs to be a balance and a grounding at the same time. Getting carried away with bliss can mean not attending to day to day affairs, such as paying the bills, eating right, and having healthy relationships. I knew a woman like this. She was so wrapped up in her pursuit of peace that when she received a chunk of money in a settlement, she didn’t want to be bothered by trying to invest it. Instead, she gave the money to a friend to invest it for her. Unfortunately, the friend put it in a high risk investment, which failed, and she lost all of her money. The euphoria from spirituality and meditation doesn’t erase our personal responsiblities.

We seek to recognize our wholeness through spirituality and meditation. Instead of feeling like we have a “hole in our soul,” spirituality helps us to understand that we are truly whole and complete as we are. It allows us to be more fully present in our world and expand our awareness of who we are. But as long as it’s being used to avoid our feelings and deep issues, we can’t move forward. We’re either resisting discomfort or moving toward wholeness. We can’t do both.

We have to be able to balance our spiritual practices with our everyday and emotional lives. Spirituality and meditation gives us a sense of connection that we can then take into the rest of our experience. When we are able to acknowledge our issues, work through them, and accept all of ourselves, we’re honoring our spiritual essence.

Copyright 2007 Linda Ann Stewart

Source: http://www.articlecircle.com/Free Articles Directory

About the Author

As a nationally known hypnotherapist, writer, speaker, and coach, Linda-Ann Stewart has taught multitudes of people how to reduce stress, improve their self-esteem, break negative habits, and improve their lives. She leads seminars and teleseminars on empowerment, self-esteem, creativity and stress reduction. At her website, www.Cedarfire.com, she offers personal development articles, affirmations, audio products, a newsletter, and much more.

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Does Psychotherapy Work?

Pieces of Me?

Pieces of Me? by CarbonNYC / David Goehring

by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Many years ago, when I became a psychotherapist, all I knew was the traditional psychotherapy that I had learned in school, and that I had personally experienced with many different therapists and many different forms of therapy. For 18 years I practiced what I had learned, and I was never happy with the results.

I saw that people often felt better for the moment, or resolved a particular issue, but that when new issues came up, they didn’t have a process for dealing with them. In all the years of my own therapy, I had never learned a process either – a process for loving myself and taking 100% responsibility for my own feelings and needs. In fact, taking responsibility for my feelings was never a part of any of the therapies I had experienced. I had learned to express my feelings – which often turned out to be a form of control – but not how I was creating my own feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, hurt, guilt and shame.

I no longer practice traditional psychotherapy because, in my experience, it doesn’t work. For the past 23 years I have worked with clients with the Inner Bonding process. In fact, I have many psychotherapists in my practice learning this process, because they are discouraged with the results of traditional psychotherapy in their work and in their own lives.

WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T WORK

So, does psychotherapy work? It does if what you are learning about is how to connect with your own feelings and take responsibility for them; how to discover the false beliefs that are creating your painful feelings; and how to connect with a personal source of spiritual Guidance that teaches you the truth and the loving action toward yourself. It works when you are willing to learn to take loving action in your own behalf and share your love with others. It works when you are willing to stop blaming the past, your parents, your partner, society, events, or God for your suffering and learn that you are the cause of your own suffering. It works when you are willing to stop seeing yourself as a victim of others and circumstances and learn to be loving to yourself.

What does not work is spending years analyzing the past. While the past shaped our beliefs, and it is important to understand where we learned what we learned, dwelling on it is a waste of time. In my experience, if we stay current with discovering the false beliefs that cause our painful feelings, the past will become illuminated. When we realize, for example, that we spend much time and energy judging ourselves, it is easy to go into the past to see where we learned this. Did one or both of your parents judge you? Did they judge themselves? What was the role modeling you grew up with? Did either of your parents take responsibility for their feelings, or were they victims, blaming each other or you or others for their misery? It is not hard to learn about the past when we are willing to examine our current choices and behavior toward ourselves and others.

YOUR SPIRITUAL CONNECTION

Psychotherapy that does not include developing a spiritual connection does not work. Our spiritual connection is the Source we need to turn to for wisdom and comfort. In order to deal lovingly with the challenges of life, we need to know that we are not alone, and that we always have our higher Guidance to turn to for the truth and loving action toward ourselves and others.

True healing is about learning how to take full, 100% responsibility for our own feelings and needs. It is about moving out of self-abandonment and emotional dependency and into emotional freedom. When you find a therapist, facilitator or coach who helps you to do this, then you will find great benefit.

About The Author

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Learn Inner Bonding now! Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course: http://www.innerbonding.com/welcome, and visit our website at http://www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Article source: articlecity.com