New Workshop March 2016

John Rowan Masterclass 2016 Saturday 26th March: The Philadelphia Association, 4 Marty’s Yard, 17 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1PX 10 am to 5 pm £100 or early bird before 1 March £90. Send cheque to Dr J Rowan, 70 Kings Head Hill, North Chingford, London E4 7LY, UK
Contact: Inforowan@aol.com after 1st February.

HEART therapy

HEART stands for Humanistic, Existential, Authentic, Relational, Transpersonal therapy. I now feel that this is the answer to which therapy to adopt. It is demanding and thorough, and I have written about it at length in my new book. Also in the same book is a full treatment of Dialogical Self theory, which replaces the idea of subpersonalities, and also replaces the old idea of the Unconscious. It goes into the question of the transpersonal in a much fuller way than was possible in the previous edition. The book is called ‘The Reality Game – 3rd edition’.
To me this is a revelation, and a real step forward in the search for a therapy which will actually do justice to the whole person. After all, it is the whole person who comes in at the door and needs to be seen and appreciated. And if the person is really infinite, as I believe, then they need a therapy which does justice to that, and does not fob them off with anything less.
I think that the person is a bit like the TARDIS – pretty unimpressive on the outside, but practically infinite on the inside, with huge resources and immense untrodden ways. The person is not a poor limited worm on the face of the earth, but a being of great potential and magical connections.
Missing in most attempts at therapy integration is a real appreciation of the Primal and the Transpersonal. But if we take account of this amazing potential, we can move into a much higher realm of being, where nothing is impossible.
This workshop is experiential, and contains some new exercises, including a simulation of the psilocybin experience. There will be handouts, and an opportunity to buy the new book at a reduced price. JOHN ROWAN has been working in this field since 1982, and his book on the transpersonal in therapy (Routledge 2005) has become a classic. His more recent work on Personification (Routledge 2010) has ventured into the farther reaches of the transpersonal as well. He has presented workshops in 25 countries. He is a Fellow of the BPS, the BACP and the UKCP.
This notice will appear in the Gestalt News and Notes for February, because the link is now permanent: www.gestalt.org/news

Leave a Comment January 8, 2016

A NEW DREAM

29 December 2015 DREAM ABOUT A BUILDING
Last night I dreamt about a building, a square office block. On every floor there was an opening in the middle of one wall. It was small and narrow, just big enough to take a CD or a DVD, and you could drop one of those into the opening. It dropped all the way down to the basement, where it was received and catalogued. It was then transmitted to the world. This was a way of communicating quite different from Facebook or Twitter, because it was large scale – the things transmitted could be quite long and complex, including perhaps sound and vision. People, including me, did use this, and dropped important statements and analyses into the slots – you could have long and serious discussions and large chunks of information go out. People thought this was a very valuable asset, and certainly worthwhile.

Leave a Comment December 29, 2015

A GOOD EXPERIENCE

3 DECEMBER 2015
A GOOD EVENT
Yesterday I was with my wife in the Selfridges food hall. She was going to be out at a lecture, with a friend, and I had to choose something to have for supper on my own. I chose a very nice-looking tall transparent package, with the description: “Daylesford organic farm Gloucestershire: Organic Red Thai Chicken with aubergine and lemongrass: Meal for two”. It could be cooked in a saucepan for ten minutes, or in a microwave for six. And I chose a large potato to be cooked to go with it, because I am not fond of the recommended noodles. It seemed it might be a bit too much for me, and all the papers and magazines and TV programmes go on about the amount of food thrown away as being far too frequent, but I reckoned it was a risk worth taking. Later Sue typed out an explicit list of instructions for what to do and how long to do it for, and went out for her evening.
I saw my last client, and headed for the kitchen, when there was a phone call. It was Sue, who had had a horrible experience with a new regime at the car park, which made her late for the lecture, so that she could not get in, and had to return home again. When she got back I tried to comfort her, but she still felt bad. Then I had an inspiration. The meal was intended for two, and the potato was large enough for two – we could both share the meal. So this is what I did. I followed the explicit instructions, leaving Sue to recover and find a suitable TV programme. We could have the meal on the sofa, not needing to set the table.
The cooking went well, and the two plates looked full enough, and good enough, and actually quite attractive in the end. Against our usual plan for that evening, we opened a bottle of wine to go with it. We ate the meal while watching ‘Have I Got News For You’ (one of the extended versions) which we had recorded earlier. Sue said she felt much better. So what do we make of that? Was it a miracle? Was it just lucky? We thanked the Goddess anyway.

Leave a Comment December 3, 2015

MEETING WITH AN ANGEL

MEETING WITH AN ANGEL
It was the 10th of June 2015 when I met an angel.
I was standing on the DLR platform at Stratford, trying to get to Greenwich University for the ‘Breaking Convention’ conference starting on the Friday morning. I was very puzzled, because the train standing in the station had the wrong label on it, going to some place I had never heard of. I tried to ask someone who looked like an employee of the railway how to get to the Cutty Sark, which was the stop I wanted, but he was not very helpful, and I could not get much sense out of what he said. I was feeling quite lost.
Suddenly there was a middle-aged man at my elbow, asking if he could help. I explained my problem, and he instantly came up with the solution. ‘You need the Jubilee Line’, he said. ‘Oh’, I said, ‘where is that?’ ‘Come with me’, he said, ‘and I will show you’. He took me to the Jubilee Line, and it turned out that he was going to Greenwich University himself, because he worked there. We went to Canary Wharf, where we had to get out, walk across a square, and get on the DLR line at Heron Quays. We chatted as we went, and he seemed quite an ordinary normal person, nothing special about him at all. We both got out at the Cutty Sark, and he then left me, after pointing me in the direction of the nearby University.
The conference started in the wonderful Painted Hall of the University, an amazing huge room with a high ceiling and a multitude of electric candles, really beautiful and impressive, quite inspiring.
So this is the puzzle. Why should he have gone out of his way to the DLR platform? Why should have he come up to me and asked me what the problem was? Why should he have taken me all the way to where I was going? The only answer I could come up with was that he was actually an angel, sent to guide and rescue me. He did not look like an angel – but then I realized that I had no idea of what an angel would look like in the world of today. All the images I had were from previous centuries. Am I being fanciful? Or is this the sober truth?
John Rowan

Leave a Comment November 11, 2015

HEART therapy

28 September 2015 HEART therapy
HEART stands for Humanistic, Existential, Authentic, Relational, Transpersonal therapy. I now feel that this is the answer to which therapy to adopt. It is demanding and thorough, and I have written about it at length in my new book which comes out next year. I shall also be presenting a whole day workshop on it on March 26th in Hampstead. Also in the same book is a full treatment of Dialogical Self theory, which replaces the idea of subpersonalities, and also replaces the old idea of the Unconscious. The book is called ‘The Reality Game – 3rd edition’.
To me this is a revelation, and a real step forward in the search for a therapy which will actually do justice to the whole person. After all, it is the whole person who comes in at the door and needs to be seen and appreciated. And if the person is really infinite, as I believe, then they need a therapy which does justice to that, and does not fob them off with anything less.
I think that the person is a bit like the TARDIS – pretty unimpressive on the outside, but practically infinite on the inside, with huge resources and immense untrodden ways. The person is not a poor limited worm on the face of the earth, but a being of great potential and magical connections.
One of the main things missing in most attempts at therapy is a real appreciation of the transpersonal. But if we take account of this amazing potential, we can move into a much higher realm of being, where nothing is impossible.

Leave a Comment September 28, 2015

psychedelics

21 July 2015 PSYCHEDELICS
Went to the big psychedelic conference called ‘Breaking Convention’ this month at Greenwich University – 800 people from 50 or so different countries for three days! Very exciting event – talks, videos, workshops, films, experiments – very wide range.
Since 2006 or so there has been a revival of interest in psychedelics, and a wide range of research is now being carried out. Using MDMA in the treatment of PTSD has been successful, as has the use of psilocybin for depression, and so on.
It becomes clear that many of the psychedelics are useful in the exploration of mystical states and spiritual experiences. Unfortunately, most of the research has been of what we might call the ‘vanilla’ variety, restricted to mystical experiences which are nice, and easily containable, and thoroughly positive! But really these substances can offer access to the whole wide range of experiences of what Wilber calls the Subtle level. And it turns out that all, yes all, spiritual experiences come from the Subtle, as do our dreams. At the higher levels, which Wilber calls the Causal and the Nondual, there are no experiences. There is doubtless a realisation, but it would be wrong in my view to call that an experience. And so all the shocking experiences that Jung had, and the spiritual emergencies listed by Grof, and the many weird experiences listed in the Masters and Houston book, all belong to the Subtle realm, and are readily accessed through the use of LSD, ayahuasca, DMT and so forth.
The authorities in the UK are not keen on psychedelics, and show no signs of making them more available or accessible. The Beckley Foundation is a highly respectable research organization which has extracted some concessions, but even they report a Home Secretary with a hard line on drugs of any description at all – except of course for those peddled by the big drug companies.
I found the conference very enlivening and positive. The next one is in two years time.

Leave a Comment July 24, 2015

The Great Bear

The Great Bear

This morning I was meditating and looked out of the window, and there in the darkness was the Great Bear, hovering over the garden, squarely, as if it belonged there.
I had been meditating in the same spot for ten years, and never noticed it before! It must have been there all the time, because the window faces North. There it must have been, circling round and round, and I hadn’t ever seen it.
Of course, sometimes there would have been clouds, and sometimes the dawn would have come sooner and obliterated it, but still and all, it must have been there many times before.
And it made me think – how many things are there that have been there all the time, and I have never noticed? How often have I ignored something big that was staring me in the face? Because the Great Bear is huge, it covers a big chunk of the sky.
Not only that – the Great Bear is highly significant. It points to the North, and you can always locate the North Star by following the two stars at the square end. It is one of the most useful constellations in the sky, because it never fails – it is always there, no matter where you go in this country.
It is one of the 28 constellations listed by Ptolemy in the second century. It is mentioned in the Bible and in Homer’s Iliad. It is also called the Plough, the Wagon, the Big Dipper and Charles’ Wain. The Charles in question is actually Charles the Great, or Charlemagne. In Ireland it is called King David’s Chariot, and in France the Great Chariot. In Germany it is the Wagon of Odin. In Hindu mythology the stars of the Great Bear are known as the seven Rishis, or Sages. The Romans called these stars the Septentriones – the Guardians of the North. In Greek mythology, the nymph Callisto lost her virginity to Zeus and was changed into a bear by his jealous wife Hera. But she was then placed in the heavens by Zeus together with her child the Little Bear.
I knew none of this. How strange it is that we can ignore something so big and so important. How many other big things am I ignoring? How many big things are you ignoring? We talk sometimes of the elephant in the room – how about the great bear just outside the window

Leave a Comment May 28, 2015

11 April 2015 Goals

GOALS

One of the favourite mantras of the coach is ‘Set Your Goals’. This is very understandable, for without goals how do we know where we are going, much less how to get there?
Some distinguish between end goals and performance goals. They point out that end goals are not always within our control, whereas performance goals are much more controllable by us. We can take responsibility for a performance goal, but not for an end goal. For example, I can more or less guarantee to produce an essay on time if I have to, but I cannot guarantee to get the best ever marks for it.
Others make a distinction between performance goals (which can be measured objectively), learning goals (outcomes might be external or internal to a person) and fulfilment goals (measured by a sense of fulfilment.).
But isn’t there a general problem about goals? I have no quarrel with short-term goals, like writing a letter or picking up the dry cleaning or buying a magazine. Of course we all have those, and rightly so. But long-term goals are different.
The song says – “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” But if your dream is to become a doctor, what happens when you do become a doctor? If your dream is to circumnavigate the world, what do you do for an encore? If your dream is to climb Everest, and you get to the top, and admire the view, and take a photograph or a film, and ignore the debris of all the previous climbers, what next?
In therapy, people often talk of self-actualisation, or individuation, or the fully functioning person, or the genital character, or a clear, as goals. But what do you do when you become self-actualised, when you become individuated, when you become a fully functioning person, when you achieve a genital character, when you become a clear? If these are achievable goals, they must sometimes be achieved. Once you have had your dream come true, what now?
Even more deeply, what about what is sometimes thought of as the ultimate goal — the goal of enlightenment? Is this something we could or should aim at? Nobody ever seems to claim to have reached it. Some say that at the point of enlightenment, there is no person to be enlightened. Isn’t that a strange sort of a goal?
Perhaps we can do without these big important impressive final goals, after all?

Leave a Comment April 11, 2015

22 March 2015 Transference

22 March 2015 Transference
One of the things that has always annoyed me about the psychoanalysts is their emphasis on the idea of transference. Over and over again they bring it in, and one of my clients, who also had a supervisor who was psychoanalytic, said that this supervisor would continually ask – “And what was going on there in the transference?” But until recently I had no real alternative to this, and only quite a feeble reply to the question – “What do you do then?” And in my own work in supervision, I found the notion of countertransference quite a useful one on many occasions.
But recently I have realised that the idea of the dialogical self neatly takes the place of both transference and countertransference. Instead of saying that we all have an unconscious mind, we say that we all have a number of I-positions. This is now far more precise and pointed than the idea of the unconscious, which now seems to be far too broad-brush and blunt to be of real use. We do not ask what the unconscious thinks about this, we ask instead which I-position has a different view – maybe even two or three different I-positions.
This is so simple and elegant that I cannot imagine ever going back to the old way of thinking. The client says – “I am now really ready to get married” – and instead of asking – “And what does your unconscious say about this?” – we can now say: “That is fine, but do any of your I-positions have a different point of view on this?” We may discover that there are not just two things going on, but perhaps three or four things at the same time. This may not be any simpler, but it is far more precise. And we can then go on to probe the strength and justification of any of these other voices.
We can also use the same idea to probe the relationship in therapy. If there are six I-positions on the client’s side and four or five on the therapist’s side, there is far more going on than we were able to see before. And we can tease out the multiple relationships that result. Years ago, Petruska Clarkson was saying that there were five relationships going on at the same time – now we are saying that that is itself a simplification, and that there may be other relationships hitherto unobserved and unnamed that also figure and need to be taken into account. The beauty of this idea is that it describes something that can be brought out and examined in the therapy room here and now, on the hoof, so to say. The dialogical self theory, so well described by Hubert Hermans and his co-workers, is easy to use and open to all.

Leave a Comment March 22, 2015

6 March 2015

THE SUBTLE AND THE DIALOGICAL SELF
One of the most exciting possibilities opened up by access to the Subtle realm is that we can use the theory of the Dialogical Self to bring to life the many entities proposed as existing in the Subtle realm. My own favourites include Erishkigal, Tiamat, Kali-Ma, Aphrodite, Kwanyin, Bride, Sophia, Isis and Kamala, and on the male side (for the Subtle is very gender oriented) Shiva, Cernunnos, Pan, Eros, Avalokitesvara, Hermes, Dionysos, Osiris and Ganesh. But of course we are not restricted to these, and others may invoke Obatala, Muhammed, the Guardian Angel, the Mahatma, Meister Eckhart, Socrates and so forth.
On those occasions when we need advice or help, it is companions like these we can call upon. This is the level of prayer and supplication covered in Bhakti Yoga. You may remember that in Dialogical Self work we go back and forth between two chairs, speaking from both in dialogue form. This may remind us of the extensive work of Donald Walsch in his ‘Conversations with God’ series. He was furiously writing out all his complaints about his life, addressing them to God as responsible for it all. When he finally slackened down and paused, his pen started to move on its own, and he found himself writing – “Do you really want an answer to all these questions, or are you just venting?” He allowed the conversation to continue, and the result was a book which sold millions of copies.
In every form of therapy, it sometimes happens that we feel the need to get advice from someone we respect. The identity of that person seems to matter less than the basic idea of asking. Now the problem with orthodox religion is that we never (or very rarely) get an answer to our prayers. But in our approach here we address our concerns to an empty chair, and then, when we are ready, we change chairs and speak from the other one. Of course this is not the only way, and we have already seen how Walsch found another – there may be many others.
In my experience this can often be a very powerful move, and the advice given is often miraculously apposite and helpful. Of course the choice of who to talk to is very individual, and the client has to be asked to choose carefully – not to use the ideas of the therapist, but to seek within themselves the appropriate character. In my own experience, one client chose a charismatic football manager, another chose Sherlock Holmes, another the Wise Woman, and so forth. In Dialogical Self work there are no limits to the entities who can be contacted.

Leave a Comment March 6, 2015

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To get in touch with Dr John Rowan, please email inforowan@aol.com.

Dr John Rowan
70 Kings Head Hill
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London E4 7LY

Tel: 020 8524 7381