EMOTIONAL WELLNESS

He who binds to himself a Joy,
Does the winged life destroy.
But he who watches Joy as it flies,
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

William Blake

Psychologically, there is always something permanent sacred, deep and abiding within all of us, fleeting but unchanging and unaffected by the suffering we all inevitably experience in our space/time continuum. For me as a depth psychologist, William Blake’s  ‘inner sunrise of eternity’ above, describes best what many, if not most of us, have had the good fortune to momentarily experience , especially as little children; when we are all most likely to have a memory and experience of it, when our sun came up, when intra-uterine foetal consciousness first dawned.

The awesome experience of these first moments are surely reflected in the preceding poem of Buddhist sage, Thic Nhat Hahn. They reflect his uniquely sublime meditative sense of the ‘present moment’ the here and now, the still mind, calmly abiding, in the at-one-ment of Buddhism and other knowledge based spiritual paths. The reclaiming and redemption of this projection-free-awareness, is the goal of the adult practice of meditation, or calming the mind. For if in life, we can always consciously fall back on that, whilst everything may be collapsing around us, we are indeed in the way of endless possibilities.

UNWELLNESS

For most however, the winged life or life’s impermanence, evokes progressively greater emotional suffering, due to negative karma. Once born into life, a further door closes. From this, it would seem, derives the religious/spiritual idea of the loss of Paradise. Either way, it leads us to progressively perceiving, feeling, thinking about life and even joyful events, in a projective blinkered or split off way -the way the ego fancies seeing itself- rather than in the way things really are.

Our projections derive from an increasingly unruly egocentric mind, described by Buddhists as like an elephant, led by a wild monkey, constantly drunk!? The ubiquitous -mostly unconscious- cultural fear engendered by this profound contradiction and struggle, psycho-somatically copperfastens our ignorance/denial of this truth. So the antidote is still the same, taking deliberate mindful meditative steps at fearlessly re-acquainting ourselves with the present moment, with open heart, the slow meditative but methodical journey back, through the birth trauma, to that eternal sunrise, the Pure Land.

….AND ILLNESS

Unfortunately in our fast-paced, materialistic culture, effective meditation, or even finding a reason for it, is extremely difficult. Both the idea that the fearful ordinary mind can be tamed and that our inner world holds the simple key to increasing wellness and happiness, remains anathema. This is because this idea has always competed with our religiously backed cultural need for the illusion of control and exploitation of the outer world. So rather than seeing inner fearfulness as the messenger of the contradiction above, most of us, along with modern medical practice, unconsciously seek ways of ‘playing ball with the monkey’, drunk or otherwise and refute the inner consciousness trying to tame it. Thus ordinarily, we only momentarily tumble to ‘the elephant in the room’, all the while compulsively filling our outwardly fearful wish-list of mores, now this, now that, with our insatiable needs and desires.

Illness then occurs when that elephant turns on us!?

A PSYCHOLOGICAL SOLUTION

At the turn of the last century, Dr.Carl Jung, the founder of modern depth psychology, discovered, by way of interpreting his own dreams, and those of his patients, that our inner reality is no banal receptacle of our outer wishes and fantasies, as was previously thought by psychologists, but a living dynamic natural ally, constantly trying to address and redeem precisely the above. For more than half a century, consulting sophisticated people, who did not for one reason or the other wish or feel able to seek spiritual reality religiously, but emotionally and symbolically, he witnessed how, night and day (since we dream 24/7) the natural child’s mind, the unconscious as he called it, by a sort of symbolic and literal audit of the interface of inner and outer reality, faithfully tries to inform the conscious mind and heart of the individual. Clinically he observed that, ultimately, when some fail to act on this inner dynamic, they became neurotic or even psychotic. Hence his oft repeated dictum, that an inner quandary that is not made conscious, appears outwardly as fate. This statement is enormously significant for contemporary society, as a whole, thoroughly in denial of the idea of karma.

Unfortunately still, his ‘depth psychology’ in general remains the Cinderella within in the Western health system, the preferred medical and psychiatric philosophy being to regard this repressed inner problem not as a spiritual emergency, requiring expression, but as a pathological standalone aberration only, more often than not medically neutralized with pharmaceutical products. So the greatest impediment to our inner world as well as our own, is the very culture we live.

Jungian person-centred psychotherapy then, is characteristically counter cultural, whilst always accepting and respecting the patients’ right to choose one way or the other. All therapists are firstly required to help stabilize the emotionally suffering individual and thereafter help him identify his inner conflict and where possible, question this conventional approach. Then by identifying and working on his or her projections-again mirrored in his dreams- go on to help him or her let go to the compensatory tension, so that it in time, it becomes less compensatory more complementary to the inner process.

When and if such a process is accompanied by an experience of transcendence, a conscious path of emotional wellness and mindfulness opens up.

Jung called this individuation.