transpersonal living thinking and living beyond the self

transpersonal living

Transpersonal Musings

  • Synchronicity as Psychospiritual Practice By Amber R. Balk, Ph.D. This is my first piece for Transpersonal Living. Having spent the past 15 years writing within academic contexts, this opportunity brings a profound sense of freedom. I have long been fighting for the right to express my voice in my own original way. Here is another moment to seize it! Surprisingly, I find myself pausing to call upon courage. It’s like stepping out naked onto a stage. The best I can do is set the intention that whatever written contributions I share may serve the reader. I hope my work reaches you as a thought-provoking stimulant for future dialogue and creative projects. I welcome contact and feedback. Thank you, in advance, for receiving what I have to offer. So, I’ve been sitting with the concept of transpersonal living. What does this mean to me? I’ve lived my life always trying to find my place in the mix of things. I was once a young, self-proclaimed atheist embedded in the conservative Deep South. My family imparted a version of fundamentalist Christianity, which needless to say, did not feel an innate fit for me. I developed into a curious skeptic drawn to study all the things which lack definitive answers. This shifted into seeking ...
  • Perceptions of Death By Jessica Thomas Perceptions of death are created through societal influence, experience, values and beliefs. An integration of all these viewpoints form an attitude toward death. American culture might be considered a culture entrenched with death anxiety, repression, and avoidance. It is not uncommon for Americans to separate themselves from the dying, either through emotional barriers such as denial, or physically, such as behind closed doors in care units. Fear of death takes many forms and creates space to allow death to be something that remains “out there”, while mortuary systems are used so that the living can avoid existing with the dead (Suri & Pitchford, 2010). Societies that tend toward individualism, such as those in Western culture, are more likely to view death in a negative light because it implies a type of vulnerability, much like that of a small child who needs taken care of. While individualist value equality, freedom, and an exciting life, collectivists value social order, honoring of parents and elders, and self- discipline (Eyetsemitan, 2007). Collectivist, such as many societies in Eastern culture, value interdependency and are more likely to be primary caregivers for dying loved ones. In this case, dying is experienced intimately and is more likely to be understood as a ...
  • An Invitation to Heal the Shadow of our Society The Election of Donald Trump: An Invitation to Heal the Shadow of our Society By Selena Whittle, PhD The election of Donald Trump as President of the US has shocked many people, me included. Probably swimming comfortably in denial through most of the election process, I somehow never thought that such an absurdity could actually occur. But here we are. Donald Trump is President-Elect. Now what do we do with that fact? How do we wrap our minds and hearts around this? What is the purpose of it all? What now? Putting aside the politics for a moment and looking instead from the larger perspective of the continual evolutionary process of humankind, we could ask what purpose Trump’s emergence and subsequent election serves in our collective growth. To begin, let’s look at what Trump represents. Trump sometimes figuratively, oftentimes literally represents fear, bigotry, separatism, ignorance, extremism, domination through misuse of power over others, cynicism, racism, among other traits. The culmination of these traits points to the darkest elements of humanity. He represents the shadow of our culture and, whether we wanted it to or not, our shadow has emerged into the light and will be staying in the light for the next four years. As one of my ...
  • Losing Dad: A Transpersonal Account of Death By Amber R. Balk, Ph.D. Two months ago my father died. And while death and dying is one of my specialties, the experience brought me into one of my favorite topics in a whole new way. I’ve experienced death in many personal ways, but this was distinctly different. I first received the news of my father’s heart attack when I awoke on September 8, 2015. Still groggy, I reached for my phone and found several missed calls and messages awaiting. My heart pounded as I listened to my voicemail. My mother saying something had happened to Dad. My brother explaining it further. He had collapsed. Fallen on his face. Barely resuscitated. No one could say exactly what was going on. I instantly began shaking—a full-body shake that took over beyond my control. A strange cry escaped my lips as the image of a huge fallen tree came into my mental awareness. I felt the gravity of the fall. I felt the scramble of small animals. Hours later I was on a ruthlessly turbulent plane bound for Oklahoma. I felt distinctly pulled into a huge current; something cosmic, enormous, dark/light, and numinous. It seemed to flow out into deep space. I imagined seeing my father running alongside the plane ...
  • The Ordinary By Jessica Thomas I recently discovered the book, True Perception: the Path of Dharma Art by Chögyam Trungpa, and was amazed to find how much his descriptions of every day living matched the phenomenological approach to consciousness that I have been studying. I became fascinated by the parallels with post-Enlightenment theories about the wholeness of nature experienced through the personal point of view. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet, philosopher and scientist, for example, proposed an extraordinary yet practical approach to science. For Goethe, authentic interpretation is actively receptive and grounded in the intuitive nature of experience, recognizing both interdependence and the wholeness of nature (Bortorf, 1996). To say it another way, the perceiver is not separate from the perceived. According to Goethe, unity with a phenomenon takes place in the mind and is an intuitive experience in which the mind functions as an organ of perception, not merely an organ of computation. Preserving the wholeness of nature in everyday experience requires a shift in being. In terms of everyday life, if one can learn to move into experience without imposing certain demands and judgments, the ordinary becomes quite fascinating. One can learn to operate intuitively and receptively, allowing events to unfold while emphasizing the sensory and ...
  • Psychospiritual Development By Jessica Thomas While psychological development primarily focuses on self-consciousness, personal control, self-determination, ego development and autonomy; spiritual development focuses on the formation of unity through love, compassion, vision, and the surrender of self (Fukuyama & Sevig, 1999). The distinct difference is how the self is portrayed. Psychological thought is concerned with the self in relation to self, while spiritual thought is concerned with the transcendence of self. Although psychological development differs from spiritual development in the sense of self, they are interrelated. You have to be somebody before you are nobody (Engler, 2003, p 35). A sense of self in relation to self is what thrusts us toward spiritual development, “without this raw energy and quest for more we might have never embarked on a psycho-spiritual journey” (Rummet, 1997, p. 14). The process of building an ego solid enough to relinquish, demands attention to those parts of ourselves that become locked up in the unconscious; the unconscious must be made conscious. Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis model of the person, as described by Firman and Gila (2002), presents a structure of autonomy, a process of growth toward transformation that brings to light the role of the unconscious; it’s influence on personality, and the healing process. Psychosynthesis suggest that healing ...
  • Mind-Body Connection What is embodiment? Embodiment is a way of knowing that transcends the thinking mind. It is a way of knowing through the use of the senses available to us in the given moment. The body and all senses are seen as the doorway to growth and transformation.We embody every time we drop into sensory experience in the moment and attune to our body for information. It is a phenomenological (sense being) way of being in the world. We begin with the intention that the body knows far more than we give it credit for. It knows far more than it just being a system made up of organs, blood and bones. In a mindful, embodied way of life, one comes to learn that the conscious mind can only offer so much and that the body, when called in, completes the knowing. Merleau-Ponty (1962) introduced us to his philosophy on the body, the lived body. According to Merleau-Ponty, the body is the perception that is with us always, a constant presence. He offered the idea that our body, rather than object, is actually our communication with the world. It offers us the ability to communicate with all. “To be a consciousness or rather to be an experience is to hold ...
  • Liberation Through Loneliness By Jessica Thomas Who am I? What is the essence of life? Where do I come from? What is life’s greatest architect? What does humankind ultimately experience? Throughout history societies and individuals have confronted these existential questions, attempting to answer them through many different belief systems and schools of thought. Indeed, facing such questions has imbued our culture with meaning and helped individuals find purpose. We have constructed reality around these values and beliefs. Until one grasps existential themes such as death, loneliness, choice, responsibility and freedom, one cannot move forward in authenticity. The existential philosopher, Sartre, suggested that the individual always chooses with full awareness, that nothing determines our choices for us. Within this freedom of choice lies the subjective nature of truth (Odesanmi, 2008). Seen in this light, loneliness can be a necessary condition for growth and a process which reveals our individuality. According to Existentialism, we are free within. We create value by affirming worth. Because value is inner and the inner is each person’s own, we are not bound by the objective world (Sire, 2009). Sartre wrote, “At first he is nothing. Only afterwards will he be something, and he himself will have made him what he will be.” Existentialism comes from the perspective that humans ...
  • Yoga Therapy By Ann Saffi Biasetti Yoga and yoga therapy is one way to be embodied and experience embodiment-the lived experience. “Words cannot convey the value of yoga. It has to be experienced.” B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga bridges the gap between body and mind. Yoga therapy is an experiential approach towards mind/body integration, healing, health and wellness. In traditional psychotherapy we speak of working through and gaining insight into our “issues.” In yoga therapy we work deeply into what we call samskaras, the areas in the body where our issues reside. We use the body as the tool for self-discovery, insight and change. Experiences in life become mainifest in the body. Your life is unfolding in your body but you usually don’t get to listen to it. Yoga Therapy offers the opportunity to listen to the body for information about your life. Studies in mental health and the medicine have proven that long after an emotional trauma and even after the memories have faded, the body still responds as if the trauma were a current event. Traumatic events leave an imprint in our sensory and hormonal systems. Therefore, long after the event, there still may be bodily sensations, reactions, and feelings that continue to occur, causing everything from worry, anxiety, fear, ...
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