HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON (HSP)
HIGH SENSITIVITY is now recognized as a natural temperament innate to about 20% of almost all species, not just human persons. It is also known as “sensory processing sensitivity.” The HSP will experience emotion more intensely, process things more deeply, get easily overwhelmed and over stimulated by the inner and outer environment, and notice more subtleties and nuance. The highly sensitive person appreciates and wants depth and needs the time and space to pursue things in depth. This is not a disorder but a natural (and sadly very misunderstood) orientation. The best resource for information on the trait is Dr. Elaine Aron’s website, hsperson.com.
YOUR AUTHENTIC self dreams itself into existence, dream by dream. Dreams are story-weavers, showing us our path. Elusive and confounding, awesome and amazing and sometimes mundane and ordinary, the psychologist Carl Jung has shown us that dreams are the language of soul. They communicate purpose and desire, hope and healing, if we will pay attention. The dialogue with dreams can help us realize our deepest desires.
SUCH a crushing weight is a cruel form of suffering. The lack of vitality and motivation seem to defeat any hope of healing. “Depression,” understood as a dark night of the soul, is a story wanting to be understood. In depression soul confronts us with something we have been avoiding, are fearful of, or just plain out of touch with. A purpose does inhabit depression in spite of its seeming lack of purpose. It can take years, but light will emerge from the darkness, hope will emerge from despair and new life will be born.
WHEN THINGS a fall apart are we being pushed out of our comfort zone by a transpersonal power? A seventeenth-century German mystic, Jakob Boehme, has written, “The Holy Spirit is the creative force which drives us by anxiety to a new birth.” Of course, anxiety can get out of hand and lead to dysfunctional paralysis. It has been said that the modern age is the “age of anxiety,” because the traditional myths and stories no longer provide a secure foundation for our place in the world. As we suffer anxiety today we can ask, “What is the soul of anxiety, its story, its purpose, for me?” Is there wisdom in anxiety teaching us to live with the unknown and discover that we are our own foundation?
ADDICTIONS to alcohol, drugs and other things are soul’s distress at being denied. The addiction itself is a symptom of a deeper truth. One of the many names of alcohol is “spirits” and for good reason. Addiction is exactly like being possessed by a spirit or demon. The cure itself must be “spiritual,” which does not necessarily mean a conventionally spiritual path. It is the meaning of the “spirit” or “demon” that must be extracted and lived personally. The healing way is your personal myth
THE SPECIAL problems of sexuality come under the influence of Eros and Aphrodite, the ancient Greek deities of love, sexuality and relationship. A depth psychology views these realities as archetypal powers and natural truths of embodied soul. Sex and spirit are always inextricably intertwined, and discovering the sacred dimension of sexuality and the sexual side of spirituality opens avenues of healing. At the heart of both is the mystery of relationship, with others and with ourselves.
grief and loss
THE EMOTIONAL pain of grief and loss can be intolerable. It is difficult to be patient with grief and to allow it a rightful place in life. Never hurry to get over grief. Grief has its own inherent natural timing, and when allowed to complete itself, it will yield a new sense of aliveness.
RELATIONSHIPS offer promise, hope and connection, they drive us crazy, and are the very foundation of our existence. Relationships can nurture and they can destroy. The essence of soul itself is relatedness, and all relationships have an aspect of soul within them and between them. No matter how much a loner or introvert we may be, it is relatedness that shapes our sense of self. It is our earliest relationships with parents and siblings that profoundly influence our relationship with others and ourselves. Throughout the course of our lives, relationships provide healing, nurture, trouble, confusion and growth. The problems of relatedness are a source of suffering and learning.
THIS MAY SEEM a strange area of expertise. But emptiness is the essential precondition of creation. Yet, it is so terrifying we do everything in our power to avoid the experience of emptiness. At the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the book of Genesis there is simply Chaos and Void. Such a state is intolerable, yet from the void comes creation. Training consciousness to face the reality of emptiness, to contemplate the spaciousness of emptiness as well as the terror of emptiness, is a gradual process of liberation, opening new sources of life.
THE SPIRITUAL quest often begins with a question, but it is not always conscious. Dissatisfaction, hunger, desire, despair, infatuation can be the mask that spiritual longing wears at different times in our lives. Whatever it is that destabilizes us is worth exploring and knowing, in order to discover soul’s purpose and live into our reason for being here and now.
THERE IS a mistaken notion that psychotherapy will emasculate the creative spirit. That notion comes from the old intellectual Freudian mythos. Psychotherapy with soul embraces the wildness of life and opens with courage to the unknown. The “danger” the “artist” must face is within. The resistance to creative expression that is so painful is actually part of the creative process. The creative impulse is a challenge to go beyond what is personally safe, and psychotherapy can help with trusting its dangerous edges.