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Transpersonal therapy focuses on the Essential Self. The word "transpersonal" comes from the Latin "trans," meaning beyond and through, and "persona," meaning mask or personality. Transpersonal therapy is truly holistic, encompassing all levels of human experience, including the spiritual, seeking to reveal the person behind the personality. Transpersonal psychology draws it's methodology from the spiritual traditions of the world, including eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, the Yogic traditions of India, and Western Contemplative traditions, and integrates them with contemporary psychology.
In transpersonal therapy, it is essential that the therapist recognize that he/she is equal to the client and in fact, on the level of pure consciousness, there is no separation between them. This shift in ideology changes the whole nature of the therapy. The therapist is not in a superior position to the client, and listens with suspended judgment and an attitude of deep respect. While each person has their own thoughts and beliefs and feelings, their experiences cannot be completely separate. The consciousness of one has a direct impact on that of the other. It is in that shared consciousness, where true empathy and insight can take place for both therapist and client. While it is still important at times for the therapist to be discriminating and analytical, the primary mode of being with the client is with an attitude of open mindedness, wonder and innocence, (what is referred to as "beginners mind" in Zen Buddhism). It is as if everything that is said, and felt, and thought, was for the first time ever. The therapist strives to be completely genuine, and "authentic," and coaches the client to do the same. Both aspire to be self-aware, honest, and "real." This makes for a powerful therapeutic relationship in which tremendous healing and growth can take place.
Transpersonal psychology emerged as an area of focus in the last 25 yrs as an extension of psychological studies into consciousness, spiritual growth, body-mind therapies and personal transformation. The study and integration of the transpersonal acknowledges that spiritual levels and awareness are essential levels of development, and if nurtured and developed can transform an individuals life leading to a deeper self-understanding, fulfillment, and greater health of the body-mind. The transpersonal takes into account the whole person; all aspects of the self. There is a connecting with the whole person, and the whole of the person's life. A main thrust in the therapeutic process is to bridge the various parts of self and establish a healthy connection to these aspects inherent. Transpersonal therapy uses many modalities and blends and bridges many disciplines and schools of thought. The thrust and direction will depend upon the therapist and his or her training, orientation, gifts and proclivity. Transpersonal therapy engages the 'personal' of an individual and bridges as well as integrates the levels and states of consciousness to create and instill the awareness and utilization of the transpersonal. There is a focus on self development and attention directed towards the needs and the wants of the personal to foster growth, healing, awareness and empowerment. This self development and growth naturally lends itself to the bridging to the transpersonal. When one is truly empowered one begins to seek and then see what is below the surface and perhaps not readily seen. The question "There must be something more " is answered for the individual in a framework that speaks to their life focus and beliefs. In this way transpersonal therapy weaves through the multitude of beliefs and seeks to affirm individuality and uniqueness; yet confirm the unity of all life. We all come from and are made from the same source. In this deep understanding, belief and feeling of this awareness there is an immense level of healing, growth, inspiration, upliftment, sense of universal solidarity and peace that is experienced.
In connecting to the transpersonal the individual is connecting to their higher expanded self and expanded states of awareness. There is the recognition of a connection to the whole and something larger. This something is The All That Is, God consciousness. The transpersonal is not religious, but through religion one can have transpersonal experiences. The transpersonal can be felt in a myriad of religions, belief systems, rituals, esoteric philosophies, disciplines and activities. However, to consistently be able to tap into this state at will or live in this state is quite another situation, and is possible.
The transpersonal is ego inclusive. This is very important. The inclusion of the ego means there is nothing to fix or get rid of in the psyche. The key is to align the ego functioning to the blueprint and reign of the higher self (soul self) The ego's needs and wants are taken into account and harnessed for the benefit of the whole psyche. The desires of the human ego mind are allowed to be defined and refined for the growth, health and total wellness of the person. There are processes that facilitate this process. In this way the ego is seen as a functioning part of a being; however not the total part of a being. I say being here, because an individual is looked upon as a spirit with a soul contained within the very fabric of being a soul purpose and an essential reason for being and living. So the fact that one is born, alive here; that one exists or is "being" here on this planet, at this exact time and place is not an accident and has a purpose. I also say being and living, because one is being just by being here. The next step is the living. The living is up to you, and how you live your life. Your unfoldment is in your hands and awareness. Your life and how you live it has a purpose whether you are conscious of this or not.
The conscious awareness and unfolding of this blueprint leads to your reason for being and is seen as being integral to the universe, world, society and universal/divine plan. In this way there are no mistakes, just the possibility of the realization of ones wholeness and perfection. With this self realization then comes the self actualizing of this awareness of being into the world creating a sense of purpose and deeper sense of peace and fulfillment in one' life.
A core practice for transpersonal psychology includes meditation, mindfulness, and contemplation. Comparing the role of meditation in transpersonal psychology to the role of dreams in psychoanalysis, Walsh and Vaughan (1993a) called meditation "the royal road to the transpersonal" (p. 47). In this broad category, I would include other awareness practices such as Gendlin's (1982) focusing technique drawn from phenomenological philosophy and psychotherapy. While meditation and related practices can be used for self-regulation, relaxation, and pain control or for self-exploration and self-therapy, they have traditionally been used for self-transcendence (Shapiro, 1994). Despite their many surface forms, most styles of meditation can be a means of disidentifying from our masks or egos and realizing our fundamental nonduality (Goleman, 1996).
While ritual has not been identified as a core practice in transpersonal psychology, it is central in many cultural and religious traditions that promote spiritual values. For people in many cultures, ritual is the central means of discovering and developing intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal connections (e.g., Somé, 1998). It provides a means of communicating with the unconscious, with each other, with the collective, and with spirit. It gives, or reveals, a deeper significance to our actions and relationships, creating deeper meaning, and it offers a sense of sanctuary within the ritual container for exposing and exploring deep and potentially difficult or disintegrating experience. As a practice, it beckons us to the interface of mundane and sacred, intention and surrender. Once we tune into ritual, we start recognizing that we live in a sea of ritual, largely unaware of it, and that contemplative practice and ritual are highly complementary and synergistic.
Recently, Almaas (1986, 2002; Davis, 1999) has introduced and described what he calls the practice of inquiry. It is based on the open-ended exploration of present experience in a way which deepens and expands immediate, lived understanding (Usatynski, 2001). This practice includes meditative present-centeredness and openness, psychodynamic and developmental perspectives on ego-based blocks to full development, and spiritual insight and access to what he calls essence . Almaas argues that the practice of inquiry leads to the immediate experience, understanding, and integration of presence, completeness, and nonduality. While this approach is relatively new, several prominent transpersonalists have reviewed it favorably (Cortright, 1997; Kornfield, 1993; Wilber, 1997). It holds much promise as a transpersonal method for bridging western philosophical traditions and eastern contemplative traditions. Other practices that are associated with transpersonal psychology include shamanism, lucid dreaming, psychedelic drugs, and expressive arts (Franklin, 2000; Rugenstein, 2000; Walsh & Vaughan, 1993a).
[] EUROTA. European Transpersonal Association
[] Institute for Transpersonal Psychology
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