Jungian Thoughts – Part 1

I was pretty much in the throes of Panic and Anxiety when I first heard about C. G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist who was a young contemporary of Freud’s. I heard a talk in which the speaker mentioned “individuation” and the process of “becoming who you were uniquely intended to be” and how this process, though different for everyone, was the common ground of mankind. Well, I’m not sure of the exact words, but they struck a profound, deep bell in my soul – honestly, I had never heard someone talk like that.

After the talk, I asked what books he could recommend and thus began my journey. He gave me three names. Morton Kelsey, John Sanford and Linda S. Leonard. This was back in the days before amazon.com and so I went to bookstores. I found a book by each of them, and devoured them. Went to the bibliographies and found more books, more authors, more titles. For the next year I probably read over 180 books. This is an amazing feat if you know that I also had three children under 5 years old, and was having panic attacks almost daily.

The common themes in these books began to resonate within me. The first that I latched on to was the idea that I, personally, was here for a reason. Not some vague “here to be good” kind of reason, but that I represented a crucial thread in a tapestry and without me the world would be lacking. This language, of metaphor and rich imagery, drew me in and warmed me. It calmed me. I took deep breaths for the first time in years. I wasn’t just taking up space, I’m SUPPOSED to be here.

The second thing that I grabbed like a life-line is that the desires I had to be creative, and the images that sprang from my mind and heart, were parts of my healing. Painting, drawing and making art was not about getting hung on a wall in a museum, or scoring a huge gallery deal. It was about expressing something that without my voice (or choice of color, or line of pencil) would never be expressed. This changed how I thought: Thought about myself, and how I thought about others. For the first time in my life I felt connected to a deep voice in me that needed to get out! And so I painted. Sheets and sheets of paper, covered in colored pencil, acrylic paints and oil pastels. I drew and painted and tore paper, and made collages, and drew and painted some more.

(As a side note – my three daughters just LOVED this new me!! We lived in the play room with paint and paper and glitter. )

This was the beginning of a transformative era in my life that would forever change the way I lived. For three years I read books, created from my own imagination, and grew in an awareness of a rich and infinite inner wellspring that I would eventually refer to as God. But not in the beginning. It simply was my Soul. And that was enough.

I continued to do the things I had learned to do for panic and anxiety, but after this time period I never had a debilitating, paralyzing Panic Attack. There became, in me, a meeting place for inner and outer worlds that brought a sense of grounding, and on which I could depend. I became trustworthy to myself, and I was part of a much larger, grander and very interesting whole!

That was about 16 years ago. There have been many wonderful experiences with dreams, fairy tales, body work, analysis and I’ll share these in posts along the way. But for now, that was the starting point. And I am eternally grateful for that 30 minute talk on Individuation. As Robert Frost said in his immortal poem “And it has made all the difference.”

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