Winter settled in slowly that year. December's afternoon sun was still catching the last leaves, illuminating them like Christmas lights glowing gold against the backdrop of bare branches. Many more lay strewn around the forest floor like confetti left behind after autumn's riotous, color-crazed extravaganza.
But the party was far from over. That winter a new chapter in my life was about to begin.
Moving through the mists of time, we found a place of reason
Since my mid-twenties, I had called myself Christian. Despite exploring many different avenues, I was reluctant to let go of the system that once had such a strong influence on my life, but now when I asked the heavens for help, no one seemed to hear.
It was at a time I was totally internalized and operating under a new framework, that the individual personality is not a singular entity. Internally we identify ourselves as a cohesive whole, all-powerful-originator-of-every-thought-we-think-and-decision-we-make.
That is far less than what we really are. At the same time it claims far more power than we really have. Free will is a matter of being able to choose from the multitude of both inner and outer influences that are constantly competing for our attention.
But it's possible for one or more of these influences to gain the upper hand and overwhelm our feeble ego, and this is something that happens much more often than we think. That is what was happening to me in a big way all that summer and through the fall.
In his book Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Jung states:
"Looked at from the outside, the psyche appears to be essentially a reflection of external happenings-to be not only occasioned by them, but to have its origin in them. And it also seems to us, at first, that the unconscious can be explained only from the outside and from the side of consciousness. It is well known that Freud has attempted to do this--an undertaking which could succeed only if the unconscious were actually something that came into being with the existence and consciousness of the individual. But the truth is that the unconscious is always there beforehand as a system of inherited psychic functioning handed down from primeval times. Consciousness is a late-born descendant of the unconscious psyche."
( Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works 8, par. 676)
In other words, what we are now, evolved out of another part of our being, that we no longer have access to. That's not to say the unconscious was transformed into what we are now. It's more a matter of our minds accumulating enough energy from the unconscious to separate itself as a small, individual, conscious system, that is continually fed and supported by the much larger, pre-existing unconscious.
This means that expanding consciousness is a matter of bringing this vast source of psychic energy into consciousness and gaining control over it.
Actually, to say we bring it into consciousness is not really accurate. Lately my existence had become a poster child for demonstrating unconscious forces invading consciousness unbidden and taking control. But this is, in fact, a common occurrence. Though its manifestations vary in degree, they are legion.
The problem is, WE take all the credit and all the blame for what we think, say and do, instead of recognizing the activity of the unconscious in our lives. And when we do, we are identifying with it and empowering it, but by no means are we controlling it. Truth is WE are being battered about like "unresisting shuttlecocks".
Along with my own experience, in my last few posts I offer a couple different expressions of the ways this can play out in our lives.
I had learned from my experience that we can either identify with the invasion, or we can question its validity. And that the result of that decision can radically change or even destroy your life.
So far I had approached the internal power struggle with the goal of empowering the ego. (By ego I mean the parts of our consciousness we identify with. The part that you mean when you say "Me". It's the function that tries to pin down what thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions we accept as our own, as who we are.)
We all think things, say things, and do things that we regret, not just because of the consequence, but because part of us doesn't accept it as who we want to be. I had learned the importance of basing that decision on my own best interest.
A simple example of what I'm referring to would be, say, you get in a fight with someone and, "in anger" say or do something you normally wouldn't.
You can either admit to yourself that you were out of line, or you can justify your anger. In the first case you are standing up for 'ego', for who you are and who you want to be. In the second, you are empowering whatever it was that made you say or do something you probably would be better off not saying or doing.
Being able to make the distinction and to act on it, is to claim as much of our own consciousness that is within our ego's domain.
but now we've been here for too long, it's time for us to move beyond...
As I said, it was a time in my life that I was totally internalized.
My leisure time was spent hiking in the woods, reading psychology, practicing tai chi and saying around 15 or 20 psalms and prayers every day with religious discipline if not fervor.
I was moving into a deeper level of consciousness while still holding on to my earlier tools and methods. But I was attempting to incorporate Jungian theory into practice.
The next step was becoming aware of the internal forces that I was in conflict with for control.
The first one to introduce himself was the Animus.
Carl Jung describes this powerful force in The Syzygy.
"Woman is compensated by a masculine element and therefore her unconscious has, so to speak, a masculine imprint. This results in a considerable psychological difference between men and women, and accordingly I have called the projection-making factor in women the animus, which means mind or spirit." (From The Syzygy: Anima and Animus, Collected Works, 9ii, par. 28f.)
"The animus is the deposit, as it were, of all woman's ancestral experiences of man - and not only that, he is also a creative and procreative being, not in the sense of masculine creativity, but in the sense that he brings forth something we might call... the spermatic word." (From Anima and Animus, Collected Works 7, par. 336.)
-> More about the animus concet may be found in Carl Jung's book Aion: The Phenomenology of the Self, published in Volume 9, part 2, of the Collected Works. http://carl-jung.net/animus.html
Although that may leave many readers non-the-wiser, the Anima and the Animus lie behind an experience that's totally familiar to all the world, known as FALLING IN LOVE.
You experience THEM when you meet someone that seems to have an irresistible magnetism. He or she somehow manages to get under your skin and climb up into your head.
In case anyone is unsure what exactly I mean, I offer as evidence, out of the multitude of movies, romance novels and love songs, permeating our culture with the intensity of this phenomenon, one such example haunting the airwaves, that amply illustrates the influence of the Anima and Corey Taylor's hopeless struggle against her. Although it's from a male perspective, the infliction, of course, goes both ways.
Slipnot; Vermillion II
Ever since April I had been under attack by "the animus" for control. Even being able to distinguish what was him and what was "Mego", (as I referred to myself in my notebooks), hadn't changed the relentless thought pattern and obsession that seemed to have firmly rooted itself in my mind.
I recognized that's who Brian really was, not someone living up the road that had taken up residence in my head. He was an unconscious autonomous component, the Animus. I called him Banannaman. (a loose compilation of Brian+animus) Of course, at that point he wasn't as unconscious anymore, none the less, I had no control of him. Quite the opposite I'm afraid, he was clearly far more powerful than I was.
Much of what I can share about that time in my life, is what I recorded in my journal back then. I'm afraid my entries were not always either that clear or that complete, nor is my memory. But I've done my best to describe the efforts I made to oppose this force. I employed two techniques that were finally able to turn things around.
To begin with, when I looked at the influences and images of my inner life, from Jung, to the Animus, to Jesus Christ and God, His Father, my internal landscape was completely based on masculine figures. Those familiar with Jungian psychology know, it's true goal is to promote "Self" realization through recognition of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of our being. He terms consciousness masculine and the unconscious feminine for a number of reasons, but, largely because the unconscious, in a sense, 'gave birth' to our consciousness and so plays the archetypical role of MOTHER.
So, to incorporate a female influence into the mix, I decided to try to get in touch with the unconscious. Pretty much the same way as, many years before, I decided to pray to Jesus Christ. I simply addressed 'her' in my mind.
I recognized her as a part of my being, but also much larger and more powerful than just a part of me. I gave her the name Claire, simply because I wasn't comfortable addressing her as 'the unconscious'.
Although Jung identified the unconscious as the MOTHER, I had too piss-poor a relationship with my mother to relate positively to a MOTHER image, so I connected with her more as a SISTER. Meaning, the feelings of affection and connectedness that I once had with my sister, were the ones I used to relate to this inward being. I wouldn't say I was "praying'" to her, but I did feel as though by recognizing and relating, I was sending energy her way. And by asking for her help to combat Banannaman I was empowering her.
As I looked inside, I started attributing changing moods and emotions to Claire. It's kind of logical, because they certainly had nothing to do with anything going on in my physical reality. I considered Claire to be cognizant of the drama taking place internally. So, if I felt my energy being drained uncontrollably towards Banannaman, I would imagine she was losing the power struggle. If I felt inexplicably happy, even a bit manic, I guessed she was shifting the energy her way.
And I would say, she did start making a difference. It could be in part because, by attributing my emotions to Claire, I was adding a degree of separation from them, which would, by itself, alter my experience. But I would give more credit than that to the idea of activating a psychic component that served as a counter balance to the one sided masculine influence of my inner life.
But it was actually when I combined it with a second technique I called "my channeling", that I really started seeing results. That simply consisted of, taking a deep breath and, as I exhaled, I would release the emotion or energy I was feeling, as I expelled my breath.
There is no shortage of beliefs based on either focusing or controlling breathing. In fact throughout the history of spiritual practice, the breath has played a significant role. So I'm hardly breaking any new ground here.(https://www.quora.com/Why-is-breathing-so-important-in-spiritual-practices).
But if these techniques seem odd, maybe incomprehensible to my excessively extraverted audience members, remember the initial experience that brought me to this point, is real, is common and it knows no cure. And, as I said, these efforts were affective.
In my next post I'll explain exactly how using these techniques changed the balance of power. Both Brian and my own external conditions also went through a demonstrable change at the same time. Though sceptics might deny a causal connection, the timing and the final result is interesting.
My relationship with the internal forces went through an even more dramatic change. I would learn a lot about them in the coming years.
Future posts will be reveal much more of their true nature. I can explain how they, and others I have yet to introduce, fit together to create an energetic system. And I will clarify the important role we (the ego) play in this system as well.
I do hope you'll join me because, my friends,
the party is just getting started.
All pictures provided by the amazing, magical https://pixabay.com
except for the first shot I took myself: )