I think it’s time to specifically call out the unconscious part of ourselves too and why we have it and what we can do with it. So as the countdown to 2015 nears its end, let’s take a look at what’s going on inside.
“Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens.” ~ Carl Jung
I think this is true and I think both are important as well as integrated. The unconscious is the part of the iceberg immersed in the ocean…the unseen, the feelings and emotions, the intangible. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling, woke up from a dream or had butterflies in your chest from falling in love, you’ve experienced the unconscious.
I’m going to write from a Jungian perspective because it is familiar territory and it resonates with me deeply. Jung identified both the collective unconscious and the personal unconscious.
The collective unconscious refers to the human template basically, what are the things the characteristics that all of us receive when we’re born, share with each other and contribute to in how we live our lives. The ability to think, feel, to breathe, our unique ability to analyze and be aware of ourselves as individuals and aware of our thoughts.
The personal unconscious refers to our unique experience of the collective unconscious. It is the culmination of our experiences, the influence of various cultures and communities we are born into, the season and time of day we first experience and the impact of all of this and more on how we individually express and manifest it all.
I think we can all agree that we are not just these static bodies made up of all this physical, tangible stuff and nothing more. Where does the change take place…not physical changes, but how we change as people over time? Where do our experiences go as we accumulate more of them? Where does the growth we experience in our lives occur, the learning? How do we evolve and apply ourselves and express ourselves? Where does creativity live? What does our conscience look like and how does it operate? Why do we seek new experiences and goals and dreams?
And so there is much we can learn if we are willing to dive into the depths of the intangible world within…we might call it our souls. What would it look like to acknowledge this and engage with this energy?
How do we do that? A number of ways.
The realm of the unconscious is that of symbols, where it plays around with ways to express itself and work its way into our consciousness. Symbols are containers for energy, meaning, information, values, emotions. They give us something physical and tangible to identify with so that we can then process all these unknowns with what we do know.
This is why storytelling is important and why we have cultural myths. This is what we experience in dreams. This is one way that nature is a mirror for us. This is something we can find in our own writing and art if we commit to a practice and then experience ourselves through our own creations.
Initially I wrote a whole section on dream work for this post, but there is just too much information there and if you’re like me, you get a bit antsy when a blog post just won’t end even if it is interesting. So expect a post on dream work sometime soon. (Follow this blog and you’ll get an email when it comes.)
For now, my recommendation would be to get curious about your unconscious world and search for some practices that most appeal to you for getting to know it.
Maybe it is sitting with some of the questions above. Maybe it is starting to journal, take nature walks, meditate, record dreams, read poetry or philosophy or a book about Carl Jung. If at all possible I think a long term, solo journey in nature is the most ideal way to dive into this stuff.
Might I suggest some topics to consider:
“Who am I?” ok maybe that is a bit intense. But what makes me, me? My values, qualities, talents, passions, personality?
How do I process information?
How do I express myself?
How do I want others to approach me?
What are my shadow qualities?
What triggers challenging emotions in me? How do I handle that when it happens?
When do I feel the happiest and most alive?
What was my childhood like?…both the things I loved to do for hours and also my defense mechanisms and strategies that I used as I discovered I was my own person?
What do I need to let go of in my life that doesn’t serve me anymore to make space for new?
What new things do I want to invite into that space?
..all territory of the unconscious and the soul.
To me, not befriending your unconscious is like not celebrating your birthday. Your unconscious is there and it is active whether you like it or not and it has a critical role to play. We all have the opportunity to get on board with that and have a conscious approach towards it and actually be grateful for the gifts that lie there. When we don’t, what resides there can often arise in ways that aren’t so comfortable.
“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” ~ Johnny Depp
With our birthdays, we’re turning older whether we like it or not. Aging is a reality. Celebrating your birthday is an opportunity to celebrate your life…holy shit, we’re alive! That’s pretty cool. To me, a birthday is a symbol of our life and an opportunity to check in with what we’re doing with it.
Ok, off my soap box. Happy birthday to everyone and happy exploring of your unconscious. This is just the tiniest of introductions to all things unconscious, but my hope is it was interesting in the least and a call to curiosity and action at the most.
Thank you for tuning in to this series of ten blogs posts on personal development practices for a fulfilling 2015. If you’re just arriving, welcome! Here’s where we’ve been:
10 – Setting Intentions
9 – Expressing Gratitude
8 – Wandering in Nature
7 – Playing with our Passions
5 – Law of Attraction and Ritual
4 – Self Care
3 – Finding your People
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I have 2 days left in my campaign, all or nothing! I will beg. I will. Please.
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