Sunday, December 22, 2013
Freud's Yoga and Inquiry
Consider this quote from Jung:
"No insight is gained... by imitating methods which have grown up under totally different psychological conditions. In the course of the centuries the West will create its own yoga."
This quote was quoted (redundantly by me) in a great book on Focusing called "Biospirituality" by Campbell and McMahon. Jung is a little too dismissing here, considering the great synergies occurring with the West encountering the change methods of the East. And yet he has a point. This is not ancient China with Chan (Zen) masters or Taoist sages running around, or the esoteric middle east of ancient Alexandria. No, this is the modern secular world. Things are different. Modern man requires, at least in part, an updated "yoga" or way of transformation.
Ever since beginning my meditative path in the early 2000's, I have felt something implicitly missing from spirituality. Call it a felt sense. Soon I came to wonder about the transformative potential in modern psychotherapeutic methods. I encountered many things throughout the last decade and have found one of the more psychologically and holistically oriented approaches: The Gurdjeiff Work.
Although I love the Gurdjieff Work, or "The Work" as it is often called, I have found that I cannot but integrate psychological ideas and methods into the inner work I do at all times.
This is because Freud, in my opinion, discovered a way, an approach that is little known to the meditative paths.
Despite all of the faults: the limitations and controversies within psychoanalysis Freud's original genius has only grown and expanded in many other words throughout time. What he discovered was a technique of an inner flow of the mind: Free Association. He discovered that when a person practiced free associating, their minds eventually led to spontaneous memories, impulses and other un/subconscious material that they were not consciously aware of. He also discovered that there was a dynamic in the stoppage of this flow. Thus, the idea of ego-defenses was born.
This was no small achievement and set off a great proliferation of modern-western transformative methods, known as psychotherapy.
Although there are exceptions, the vast majority of meditative or spiritual approaches have an implicit assertion that a technique and series of practices must be put upon our experience in order to eventually experience a state that is other than what our current state is. Usually because we have this bad ego homunculus inside us that we must get rid of.
Psychotherapy takes an entirely novel route: that is that it works (at its best) to begin from wherever we are and whatever is presenting itself to be worked on and works with that so that we can take the next step in our process. There's no need to worry about some enlightened, sage like state because we only need to focus on our next experiential step, which is radically personal and cannot be predicted.
It would be too much to elaborate on how Freud's original methods have been expanded upon, reacted to and innovated by greats such as Ferenczi, Perls, Rogers, and Gendlin. But I must say that Gendlin's method is a next step in this process, in that it integrates the mind and body in one whole. Although not mentioned by Focusing teachers, free association is implicit in this technique.
So, consider the difference here between making your experience other than what it is vs. deepening into what is there and making it more explicit and recognized.