Personal and Reflective of the Collective Unconscious
This week we will be starting a 4-week series on dream work and dream tending. Freud and Jung both played a significant role in the depth psychological emphasis on the importance of dreams and dream work. However, their orientation to dream function and analysis are distinctly different. In On Dreams,Freud suggests that dreams are a function of repression and “disguised attempts at wish fulfillment”. Freud believed in a more literal rather than symbolic dream interpretation. He emphasized the relationship with biographical predisposition and the interpretation of the analyst. On the other hand, Jung saw dreams as a function of the universal and biological collective imagery moving towards consciousness. They are an expression of the unconscious engaging the ego and producing opportunity for integration. Dreams are both personal and reflective of the collective unconscious.
As Above, So Below
The revelations of dream work are always through image or a sensory revelation of the psyche. We can use ethereal realities to repress or disassociate from the realities of the body, the beauty in our humanity, and the poetry of our dying. For some of us, we’re so busy seeking figures of light that we might be missing the wisdoms of the mineral soils and misty caves of the inner mountain. We need to recognize that transcendence avoids intimacy. We need intimacy if we are to experience soul. Soul is in the sweat, the organs, the tickling recesses of the mysterious other. The stranger within ourselves. If the Egyptian adage, “as above, so below,” is to be taken into account, then we need to recognize that in our flying heights. So, too, we welcome our own death, our melancholy, our cavernous depths, and the stink of sulfur.
Getting to Know the Journey
Enter dream tending. This process shows us the way in and down, as well as the way up and out. Specifically, it shows us our own unique way. In the mass shifting collective cosmic awakening, dream work conserves unique, enriching, deeply intimate, sometimes uncomfortable, but always beautiful work of the soul. In all our spiritual ascent, we find a kind of guttural human experience longing to be discovered. The imagination is not something of fiction. In peeling back, reflecting and moving down and into the primordial images, we can see that all our organizing systems are structures of fantasy and experience. We have to begin our dream work by recognizing that we are already living within fantasies. Tending to our dreams is a process of getting to know and falling in love with this journey.
Right Here, Right Now
One more thing I want to say about this journey. When the sailors of the West first came to the new world, the native Americans could not understand why these men were so preoccupied with taking. With tilling, mining, claiming, demanding, and pillaging the free land. Recognize that we are in a growth fantasy in our culture to this day. A belief that we are meant to grow upward, upward, upward, and then die. What if our greatest adventure was not to grow but to get to know the real experience of our being in this time. Not to take but to grow. Not to claim and dominate but to feel and connect purely out of the waking fantasy. It is a movement into the imaginal liberation that comes from this work. Always calling out to us, echoes of our true nature, from ancestor to soul path.
In Integrity In Depth, Jungian Analyst and Typology Specialist John Beebe suggests that therapy engages typological functions of both the therapist and the patient. When we use typology and work with the 8 functions to understand ourselves and our patients, we open the darkened caverns of inferior and unconscious functions. These serve to strengthen ones understanding and insight into the process of individuation and psychological awareness. I add that engaging typological considerations offers opportunity to pause and see through interpersonal exchanges whereby we may better see bias values and perception to an ultimately superior degree of insight. Typology opens the doors to self and other inviting us to see our bias and constellating archetypal patterns.
The 8-Function Model
Let’s take a look at the 8-function model introduced by John Beebe for further insight. What we are dealing with here is the auxiliary functions. That is, Fi (introverted feeling), Fe (extraverted feeling), Ti (introverted thinking), Te (extraverted thinking), Ni (introverted intuition), Ne (extraverted intuition), Si (introverted sensing), and Se (extraverted sensing). According to Beebe, the auxiliary function refers to the second position. This function is associated with the archetype of the good parent. What this means is that mothering and fathering, of self and others reflects what function one has in this position. Without a doubt, therapy engages parenting functions because of the supportive and change provoking nature of the work.
A Way of Perceiving
Typology is a way of understanding and engaging with different temperaments and functions. However, as Jung made clear, it is not an exact science. Nor is it a method for describing a human being in totality. Typology is a way in, a way of perceiving. In conjunction with John Beebe’s 8-function model, typology provides also a conscious way of navigating the lesser functions of ones own type and the types our patients present with. Not only is typology a way of understanding, it is also a way of navigating.
Engaging With the World
Utilizing a typological framework offers tremendous room for growth in archetypal insight and interpersonal understanding. If, with Jung we look through the functions and attend to the unique values of the differences in type there is great potential to evolve in our therapeutic relationships. If you’ve not yet done so, I would suggest taking one of the various free personality-type tests. They are readily available on the web. (Here is one of many.) Then read up on common traits of your particular type. Is it accurate? What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of your type? How can you use this information to better engage with the world?
… All I did was give him a look of confident expectation. An infant learning to walk, you know he can learn to walk, but the infant doesn’t know. You give the infant the confident support of your expectation. – Milton Erickson
Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. – Alfred Adler
Sharing Without Masks
From where are we speaking, sharing, contributing to groups, community, and individual therapy? As James Hillman suggests, we strive to make conscious who is here now rather than what is here now. In every share and every withholding, every judgment, and every insecurity some aspect of the self is moving. After exploring some of the qualities of the authentic voice – both the reasons we refrain or hide it away and the phenomena of healing that accompanies sharing without masks – I reflected on the delicate art that is deeply curious and reflective listening. Are we primarily space holders? Parents? Teachers? Life coaches? Foremost, we are models of safety. When there is room, when a client is honored for what and how they present themselves, this uninterrupted, encouraged, and exploring self finds the experience of being known.
Let the Unique Genius of the Soul Lead the Way
Something we want to encourage this week is to make room for the budding of unique esteem inside of every one of us. Rather than highlight inadequacies, failure, and character defects, let us instead look to the unique genius of the soul to lead the way. We must enter the dream of the dreamer in order to help them look around and find their way. In the simplest terms, we help clients to be within their own process. Indeed, we provide a safe space to have it for what it reveals itself to be to them. One’s treatment plan, for example, may reflect the skill set of another genius altogether. And while the outcome may be the same, the means to such outcomes are as different as the swimmer and the tree climber.
Toward Centers of Strength
As clinicians, we are charged with the task of curious neutrality. Suspended perspectives provide safety in the unknown, room for the voice of the inner parent to emerge, and the chance to discover genius. In other words, what kind of playground do you provide for the exploring and developing child? Does it have swings and monkey bars? Sandboxes or grassy fields? Or maybe trees to climb and waters to swim in? Where does your client go instinctually to nourish, to play, to find themselves? And this, as we know, puts the basis of our efficacy upon how we provoke the unique genius of each of our clients. What is their way towards success? What are their images of success and how do we lead them towards centers of strength to confront a life belonging to them?
Honoring the Undiscovered Genius
We must strive to learn the language of the living soul within our clients. May we honor them for their yet undiscovered genius. May our efforts reflect the respect that each life and will deserve. In this, I believe we have the most to offer to our clients and one another. I hope we continue to strengthen this value in trust that the unique genius of the soul knows what it is doing. We are here to assist in that work both in practical tangible goals and the unique ways the individuals under our care playfully find their way home.
As we speak, at this very moment, there is someone very close to you whom you will never meet. You might feel this nearness at all times. You may catch the essence of this person as a scent in the wind. Perhaps, if you look hard enough, you may catch the glimmer of this person in the corner of your eye. However, you will never meet this person face to face. You two will forever be the closest of strangers. We are speaking of our future selves.
Our future selves are the grand total of everything we are and are doing in the present moment. And because this person is always one step ahead, it can be very difficult to show them the kindness and respect they deserve. Our futures selves are the friendly farmers who reap the harvests for which we – our present selves – are currently planting seeds. (The seeds here are, of course, are present actions and experiences.) We, therefore, have to be very careful about what we’re planting. If we want our future selves to harvest oranges, we can’t be planting apple seeds.
Kindness and Respect…Or a Field of Garbage?
Even worse, we could be planting garbage. Or we could be planting nothing at all. Our future selves set out for their harvest and find nothing but a barren field. On the other hand, it’s full of garbage – poor choices, regrets, and missed opportunities. Instead of reaping a bountiful harvest, our future selves have become garbage collectors. This is certainly not the way to show them kindness and respect.
This week then, we are going to practice just that. We are going to show our future selves the love and respect that they deserve. And how will we be doing that? We start small. We build a daily routine. Maybe we decide to take twenty minutes every morning to sit and meditate. Maybe we decide to take tai chi class seriously instead of screwing around the way we usually do. Or perhaps, we start hitting the gym a few times a week. It’s these small decisions and actions that are what creates momentum. This momentum makes life so much easier for our future selves. In fact, they’re starting to feel better already. They’re looking back at their past selves with pride and contentment.
Some Things to Think About This Week
Let’s start small and not try to do too much at once. But what would you like to have happen for your future self? What would you like them to harvest? And what can you be doing now to start planting the seeds? We mentioned it can be difficult to really face the present moment and shape it in a way that will make our future selves grateful. And it starts with loving yourself enough to do something about it. This week, we will remind ourselves that we and our future selves are worth it. And we will attend to the present in such a way that our future selves will look back on us with gratitude.
When we deny the full expression of our grief, it lays like a weight on our hearts, causing emotional pain and physical ailments – bell hooks
Processing Grief and Loss
No person who comes to Barn Life to heal is a stranger to grief and loss. Whether it be a physical death or loss of relationships or even the feeling of disconnection, we all experience having to endure the process of grief. This very personal journey can be very destabilizing for many of our clients. Many clients, I’ve noticed, have acknowledged that they have experienced the death of a loved one in the past and have never fully processed that loss and held space for grief.
A Confusing and Isolating Time
This past year has been full of loss and many have struggled to allow themselves to sit with grief or even identify feelings oriented around grief due to current circumstances. With the holidays, death and loss can be especially prominent for our clients at Barn Life. Many tend to find themselves reminded of a loved one who they have lost. It can be especially challenging for those who have not been able to fully process their loss. For these folks, it could be a very confusing and isolating time.
Healing in Community
This week, we are looking to allow space to normalize grief. Additionally, it’s important to note that the process is not always linear or clear-cut. Many times the pain of loss can be healed in communion. Think of wakes, funerals, and other memorial rituals and the power that these can wield. We are going to be using some of our process groups to allow our clients to help each other share their grief. This will be a chance to be a part of and heal in community. We could even acknowledge times when loss has helped us to develop and transform.
Some Questions to Think About
The following are some questions to consider this week. How do you perceive grief and/or loss? What has allowed you to process and hold space for your grief? How has loss been transformative or developed your character? What legacies or traditions have you carried out since your loved one’s passing? What barriers disallow you to process grief and loss? How can Barn Life best support your journey with healing from loss? How can you best support your peers and hold space for their process?
Fear is part of the human experience and unanimously felt. However, our fears are also deeply personal and rooted in lived experiences. We believe there is a threat to be feared. We believe this whether the threat is physical, such as fear of physical pain or death, or emotional, such as fear of the pain of humiliation or abandonment. No matter how realistic or unrealistic the perceived threat is, the results are typically the same and equally damaging. Second-guessing, self-doubt, and paralyzation.
Perhaps you are frozen and powerless whether you encounter a bear in the wild or a man who resembles your father in your personal space. Whether you’re sweating and your heart is pounding from the real threat of being left alone in a dangerous place, or from the imagined threat of being discovered to be “not good enough” and abandoned by a partner, the threat is real to you and your body.
Second-guessing is constant self-doubt, unsure of our choices and next moves. Unable to commit to the responsibility of our lives. Paralyzation is not only physical stillness, but not moving forward in life or emotionally connecting to it.
The fears that are more suppressed, less apparent, are often the kind that come up in therapy and block change.
Here are some ways to uncover them: envision yourself “giving up” your brokenness, your self-destruction, your self-doubt, your addictions, your feeling of being in control, your current comfort. What do you fear you will experience? For most, it has to do with loss – loss of control, loss of relationship or connection, loss of identity, loss of life itself.
Before you can envision what you will gain by “healing” and “transforming,” you need to first acknowledge and process what you will be losing. You will be uncomfortable and feel vulnerable and out of control. How will you manage that? How will you be supported in that? Can you do it?
The alternative is to stay the same.
Now let that play out. Staying the same. Eventually going back to what you know best.
Solution/Resolution – Our Favorite Part
The antidote to fear is truth. Truth about who am I and what my life is. What is my purpose in this life? What are my values? Am I the person I want to be? What do I bring to relationships? What do I offer this world? Is it my strength? My kindness? My intelligence? Is it my ability to make others feel nurtured? My ability to create something of beauty? We must walk through fear with our strengths. If you are entirely unsure, that is part of your work at Barn Life – discovering and committing to yourself.
This week, contemplate any potential losses or discomfort that you envision occurring due to change.
Here are some questions to think about:
What are your conscious fears (“I’m afraid I’ll never even be able to get better”) and your unconscious fears (“I’m afraid that when people get to know the real me they will leave me”) that you have been numbing?
If you continued to live in fear, what would paralyzation/shrugging into sameness look like to you? What is comfortable about this?
Are there any fears you have settled into and made your “truths” you live by? (E.g., My “truth” is that I am always rejected. No matter what I do or who I pretend to be, so I sabotage relationships and choose people I feel are less than me so I can reject them first).
What will you gain by challenging a specific fear in your life (e.g., fear of rejection, fear of losing control, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of death)?
How can we at Barn Life help you begin to challenge and take action steps toward facing and challenging these fears?
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