8 July 2014
All that work I did last year, on chapters for books by others, is now paying off, and the chapters are appearing, one by one. Here is the latest list:
‘The transpersonal in individual therapy’ 497-518 in W Dryden & A Reeves (eds) The handbook of individual therapy (6th ed) London: Sage 2014
‘The transpersonal approach to coaching’ 145-156 in E Cox, T Bachkirova & D Clutterbuck (eds) The complete handbook of coaching (2nd ed) London: Sage 2014
‘Existential analysis and humanistic psychotherapy’ 549-561 in K J Schneider, J F Pierson & J F T Bugental (eds) The handbook of humanistic psychology: Theory, research and practice (2nd ed) London: Sage 2015
‘Existential, humanistic and transpersonal therapies and the relational approach’ 40-50 in D Charura & S Paul (eds) The therapeutic relationship handbook: Theory and practice Maidenhead: The Open University Press 2014
There is also another one to come, on Primal Integration, but I have not got the full details of publication yet. It is nice to see all these in print at last, and available to all.
July 8, 2014
I went to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition last week. It did not impress me very much. But it reminded me of the last time I was there.
When I visited the David Hockney exhibition in the Royal Academy, I was not expecting much. It was just something one should do, to keep up with the times. But when I saw ‘The Hawthorn Bush’ something extraordinary happened. I was taken into a realm of peace and joy. There was the unmistakable ring of the numinous. It was enormous, it filled a wall by itself, it was a presence in the room. It took up the whole space. It spoke to me.
My heart really did leap up. This was the real thing. Just as when I walked into the Rothko room in the Tate Modern, there was that crash of recognition – that outburst of ‘This is it!’ What such works have in common is that you cannot represent them. No reproduction, no other rendering, can give you the same experience. Just as with Epstein’s statue of ‘Jacob and the Angel’, you have to be there with it, somehow joined with it, admitted to its essence.
‘The Hawthorn Bush’ is different. It is there. It looks at you, and demands that you look at it. But it is not just the looking, it is the being. It is there, with you, in the room. And the other paintings, and the other spectators, fade out, go silent. Just me. And it. Mutually present. This is it.
June 10, 2014
20 May 2014
Just been seeing ‘Poet in New York’ on TV. Marvellous reading of ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ (Dylan Thomas) by Tom Hollander. It reminded me of 1959, when I had to take five exams in order to get on to my degree course at Birkbeck. I took the philosophy exam and the final exam for the Sociology diploma I had been doing, an A level exam in logic and another one in literature, and a scholarship exam to Birkbeck College. The A level exam in English Literature featured one of those ‘compare and contrast’ questions on two great poems about death – ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and John Donne’s ‘Death be not proud’ – two of my favourite poems, so I was lucky with that. The Hollander reading was so brilliant, it brought tears to my eyes. He had obviously been listening to Thomas’ own reading of the poem, and reproduced it faithfully. Dylan Thomas was one of the great readers of his own poems, and I particularly love the way he does ‘After the Funeral’ – one of the great performances, I think. Really moving and shattering. I wish we could hear John Donne reading his own poetry!
May 20, 2014
12 May 2014
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GROUP?
Then one cold Saturday in February we had an all-day [primal] marathon and I had the most profound experience of my life. On that dav I fell in love for the first time. It was the first time because my head, heart and body were involved. I was no longer stone cold rigid and unavailable. I experienced my own beauty that day, as a woman, as a person. I really felt it on the inside. I loved everyone as they were. With each person and with each moment I was different. I saw their perfection and I also saw their limits. I was not judging. I was just appreciating. I went through a door to a place I could only call whole, clear vision. A sight that sees all undisturbedly. The endless self judgements had quieted. I was. I felt very young, open, vulnerable, not afraid and at peace.
This extract from a participant speaks to me – we sometimes forget what therapy is all about. I want to keep alive that hope, that insight always.
May 12, 2014
2 April 2014 THE BEAUTY OF THERAPY
A young man writes to his therapist months after finishing therapy, and relates the episode which moved him most. He was walking along the beach near his home, and saying to himself – “I am such a failure: I have disappointed my parents, I have disappointed my teachers, I have disappointed my boss, there is just no hope for me.” But then, all at once, as he walked along, he saw the sun setting across the water, and suddenly went into a quite different mood. He said to himself – “My parents had the wrong expectations for me, my teachers had the wrong expectations for me, my boss has the wrong expectations for me – I am not the picture they painted. I am me!” – and his heart leaped up, and he opened his eyes, and he kept repeating “I am me!”, louder and louder. And when he got home, he covered a big sheet of paper with the words – “I am me!” “I am me!” “I am me”, over and over again. And it was as if he opened his heart, and saw the world through his own eyes, for the first time. He wrote that he had not thought too much about his therapy before that time, but all at once he got it.
My Masterclass on 29 March went so well – some people from abroad made the journey too. Really digging deep into the Transpersonal, even covering feminism, religion, intuition and transcendental empathy. Really pleased with that.
April 1, 2014
23 January 2014 SOMETHING WRONG WITH THERAPY?
One of the things that happens in therapy is that there may be some kind of setback, where things are not going smoothly or pleasantly or excitingly. I once made a study of alchemy, and found that the old alchemists knew of this, and mentioned it specifically as one of the essential moments in the alchemical process – they called it the nigredo, the blackening of the work. At such moments there may be what looks like a mistake, or a disagreement, or a failure, on the part of the therapist. This needs to be understood and properly handled if we want to make the most of the moment. It is by no means the end of the road. It may strengthen the relationship, if it is well handled.
February 4, 2014
Applications are now coming in for the workshop on 29 March. This is a full Masterclass, and incorporates a lot of new material. In particular, people may have done my exercise on Intuition, which is quite revealing, but the new workshop incorporates actual tuition and practice on intuition, to make this more available in everyday practice. Also there will be actual practical work on transcendental empathy, to make that more available in the work. I have been greatly encouraged by reading the new Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, which has reminded me of the whole range of stuff that has come out in the past 30 years or so, including the feminist approach, the body-oriented material, the new research on hallucinogens (now that this has become possible again), and in general the research advances, many of which I had not heard of. These are exciting times. Remember that my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
January 10, 2014
26 December 2013 DO THERAPISTS NEED THERAPY?
Going back through some old notes and diaries, I discovered that over the years I have seen quite a high proportion of therapists in therapy. Sometimes it has been students on a course, and sometimes it has been well established therapists or coaches who have seen the need for some further work on themselves. Sometimes it has been more like mentoring, where at a certain point therapists have realised that they are on a spiritual path, and have found it all a bit new and confusing. It is lovely to work with these experienced people, because they usually know what they want or need, and throw themselves into getting it as well as possible. There is none of the great uncertainty that makes therapy so slow for most people – necessarily so. I find also a great humility in such people, as if they are always beginners in some way. They are not afraid to go to a new workshop if they think it has something to offer them.
December 26, 2013
A CRISIS CAN BE GOOD?
One of the things which drives people into therapy is a crisis. Sometimes it is losing one’s job; sometimes it is losing a close partner; sometimes it is that one’s child is in trouble with the police; or it may be just the discovery that one is stuck in a rut. That is where therapy can come in, as a place to run to, to somehow sort it all out. But what may happen then is that we discover that we are really on a path of self-discovery – a path which we have been avoiding up to now. That is certainly what happened to me – it was a process of opening up to my feelings, to my issues, to all the stuff I had been avoiding, or even quite ignorant of, up to now.
December 6, 2013
25 November 2013 SUCCESS
The idea of ‘making it’ in life is a subtly attractive one. One of the contestants on ‘the X Factor’ sang a song about it, ‘New York, New York’, which at one point goes – “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, it’s up to you, New York, New York!” It was a big song, with a big band, and a big voice. Here is a big success, I thought. Later in the evening, that singer was out of the competition.
What is this thing called ‘making it’? I met a young man once who said – “If I haven’t made a million by the time I am 30, I shall have failed!” And if he makes his million, what then? A lot of young men thought they had made it when they got their house or houses, when they got their car or cars, but in 2008 they lost them all, because of a worldwide banking crisis.
Even in calmer times, a man can reach 40 and then find he has forgotten to get married and have children, and finds that he has become someone who does not know how to get that right. He has missed that bus, and left it too long to become a human being. Women, too, can find that being too keen on ‘making it’ has left them childless and unfulfilled.
Perhaps a single-minded search for anything at all can make it hard to be a whole human being. And perhaps being a whole human being is more important than any single-minded search?
November 25, 2013