This month I want briefly to address a topic I have not touched before: Jungian psychology and spirituality. I will also refer you to a very interesting YouTube video. We often hear many people say they are spiritual, but not religious. For my purposes in this month’s essay, I want to characterize “spirituality” as an experience, over time, offering each of us a sense of direction in life. By this definition, spirituality may function within or outside of an established religious tradition. The issue is the felt-sense sense of a guiding force in one’s life.
Psychology as a therapeutic practice can venture into the realm of spirituality. In my practice, several clients—some participating in a religious tradition and some not—express “spiritual concerns: Who am I? Where is my life going? What does it mean, if anything? These concerns mingle with questions, hopes, and disappointments in relationships as well as in work. In one sense, spiritual issues (as I define spiritual in this essay) cannot be neatly separated from “psychological” issues.
The YouTube video illustrates one of C.G. Jung’s repeated experiences: people who pay close attention to their dreams by carefully, accurately recording them, and pondering them over time—often with the assistance of a therapist or analyst skilled in understanding dreams—discover their spiritual path. This may be a tradition into which they were born and from which they have fallen away. It may be eastern or western, secular or denominational. Jung’s point was that careful attention and the effort to understand and follow the guidance provided by dreams is an experience that deepens a person’s sense of direction.
In the video entitled Jungian Psychology and Spiritual Direction, Don Bisson, a Roman Catholic spiritual director, talks about the experience he had at a time of confusion, lost meaning and direction in his life. His story illustrates the complementarity between a depth psychological exploration and spiritual direction. You don’t have to be Catholic for this to work! I hope you find Don’s account informative and useful. Please drop me a line to let me know. I can be reached through the Ommani Center email account, firstname.lastname@example.org
August, 2016 Boris Matthews, PhD, LCSW practices Analytical Psychology (a.k.a. Jungian Analysis) at the Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. He is a teaching and supervising faculty member of the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago, IL. To schedule an appointment, contact him at 608.217.5184.