Birthing Our Unconscious
‘Man’s task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.’
– Carl Gustav Jung¹
To be fully alive, we must go through many births of consciousness in our life. Each birth, each expansion of consciousness, takes us into a new world. There we learn to navigate and to handle new challenges, using the new realisations we have gained. This is our path of growth upon this Earth.
If we have a spiritual practice and deep intent, we grow into higher consciousness at a natural pace. However, if we do not get to know our unconscious as well, our progress will be slowed or blocked by what we have stored there. We may even lose our sense of purpose and direction in the everyday world.
In our unconscious we have stored beliefs, feelings and patterns to navigate and handle our own particular life challenges. All of these were once helpful, and even necessary for our survival. However, any one of them can become limiting and possessive of our energy, not wanting or allowing us to adapt to new circumstances, to become fully our self. They may contain what Carl Jung calls “countless prejudices, mistaken assumptions, and fears.” These create and colour our life negatively.
If we have chronic illness, physical or emotional, it is highly likely some out-dated core feelings and beliefs in our unconscious are playing a major part. However, if we bring these unproductive aspects from our unconscious into our awareness, we are on the path to healing. In fact, birthing the unconscious to bring us into wholeness is the very reason we have such dis-ease in the first place. It is the dynamic driver of our growth!
For us to bring the unconscious into daily life, and to release its blocks and hidden energy, we must apply our effort and use focused methods. It is not enough for us to merely think about or understand the personal issues we each face. Rather, we must take action and extend our self into areas of our being that are often uncomfortable.
Everyone faces this crisis of conscious discovery, because humanity faces a global dis-ease of consciousness, demanding our personal and collective growth. Fortunately for all of us, this crisis has also provided us with an unprecedented range of tools to access and heal, to meet the challenge.
Over the last 40 years, many of our older ideas about the unconscious have given way to an integration of knowledge from ancient spiritual practices, classical and humanistic psychology, and the latest neuroscience. Rather than judging our unconscious as “the shadow”, sinful or obsessed with sex, we are empowered now to work together with our unconscious for our greater good! Now we have the benefit of many methods of mindfulness, meditation, energy work, yoga, dream-work and psychotherapy to answer our needs.
‘You see, somewhere our unconscious becomes material, because the body is the living unit, and our conscious and our unconscious are embedded in it: the contact the body.’
– Carl Gustav Jung
Carl Jung’s words reflect ancient Buddhist teachings and give an important clue as to where we can birth our unconscious. Modern somatic psychotherapy knows that ‘the body keeps the score’³, that we store our experiences in our body, in our cells and DNA, creating patterns of unconscious response. We know now that this is not just a mental or cognitive phenomenon. Rather, it lives in the whole of us, body, thoughts and feelings, co-located in our energy field.
Each of us can access our unconscious and heal – through increasing our mindfulness of our body, its experiences and stored feelings. As we incorporate this greater awareness into our conscious self, we gain greater choice in how we respond to life, and we free our self from out-dated conditioning influences. If we expand our awareness of all our being within the loving radiant energy of our heart, with its acceptance and understanding, we will increase our sense of wholeness, of well-being, of full presence in the world.
Armed with these new methods, we have a unique opportunity this life to grow our consciousness, achieve our purpose and open our path for lives to come. Seize it and do not look back!
- Carl Gustav Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 326
- Carl Gustav Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, p.441
- Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score, Viking Books, 2014