Rashin D'Angelo on October 5th, 2009

Even after all this timerumi-love1

The sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.”

Look what happens with a Love like that!

It lights the whole Sky. (Hafez)

In the Persian culture, everything is encompassed by love, or eshgh, deriving from the Arabic ishq. Icons such as Rumi and Hafez represent the ever-present passion in the history and language of the culture.  Yet there is no simple three word phrase that can be spoken like “I love you”. Man aashegh-e toh hastam is almost there, meaning I am in love with you, yet it borrows from Arabic, is too formal and rarely used.  Dooset-Daram is more often spoken, communicating a liking of anything from cake to your lover.

I have to state the disclaimer that I’ve grown up in the US and spent all of my adult life speaking and thinking in English. So perhaps I’m missing something. But in the chance that I’m right, I have to wonder why one of the richest, most complicated languages does not have a simple expression of love?

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Rashin D'Angelo on September 26th, 2009
Danger-Quick-sand
Image by i_gallagher via Flickr

Lately it seems that most of my conversations involve the idea of change, as if we are all transitioning into the next phase of our lives. I often feel like Hermes the Greek messenger god and guide for lost souls, traveling between two worlds, holding the tension of opposites. I have found myself stuck on this present bridge that connects the past to the future, often times sensing a state of paralysis, unable to run back to what is familiar, and too afraid to move forward into the unknown. My ego, desperately clutching to a sense of control, is too afraid of stillness. For with it come hope and the possibility of loss. I have watched myself spin into frenzy, caught in a repetitive pattern of physical exhaustion and mental duress, an old familiar cognitive loop of negative future fantasizing. I do this consciously, knowing the result is inner chaos, like an addict tweaking for another hit, just to avoid being in the gap of uncertainty.

Change is not easy, but it sure appears to be inevitable. Experience has taught me that it’s about the only thing that is certain in life. I have always been the person that’s embraced it, constantly craving a transformation of some sort, at times superficial and others a more profound experience. Yet as I’m caught in what appears to be another storm, I’m grasping the deeper meaning this pattern has served in my life, and seeking tranquil waters.

How many of us busy ourselves with constant motion just so we do not feel the emptiness? How we fill every minute of each day as an attempt to satisfy that inner void, the black hole that threatens engulfment of our existence.  We seek temporary solace from suffering in so many ways, often times engaging in obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior, just to hold on to prevent reaching bottom. For me, it’s like running on quicksand, too afraid to stop yet unable to keep up with the shifting under my feet.

Today, I am aware the more I resist, panic and move frantically, the faster the sand shifts and the more instability I feel. I am learning to surrender, release old patterns and stories that no longer serve the truth of who I am, and allow my cheek to touch the sand. This has been a long road, and the journey ahead is far from over. Yet the truth remains, that only when I can permit my ego to rest and my mind to be still, will my heart find the courage to lead the way. Only then will I live the life of my dreams.

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Rashin D'Angelo on August 20th, 2009
Angel
Image by Darks Adria via Flickr

Reason and logic have become the gods of modernity. Scientific rationality, quantifiable measurement, means to explain, predict and control; have all moved the field of psychology towards a monotheistic view of humanity. Instead of a metaphoric sensibility, the human sciences use the literalism of subject-object split as an abstraction to control those experiences that are mythical, qualitative and immeasurable. In contrast to contemporary psychology, depth psychology stands in ambiguity and holds a polytheistic view. Meanings are multiple, situational and relative to both the personal and collective.

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Rashin D'Angelo on August 5th, 2009

love

How does one define “soul”? Depth psychology makes the study of “soul” an important element of distinction from traditional orientations. James Hillman refers to soul as “the imaginative possibility in our natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, dream, image, and fantasy”. For me, this evokes the idea that soul is a way of being, an imaginal perspective that makes space for all that there is, without interpretation or judgment; a pure state of oneness with that which surrounds me. “Soul” is a way of experiencing, a deep emotionality that moves one from an event into the bigger picture. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rashin D'Angelo on July 2nd, 2009
Houston Gun show at the George R.
Image via Wikipedia

The issue of gun control and ownership continues to be a hot topic. One may even wonder if there is a national obsession, a sort of an addiction to guns and violence. There are many conflicting opinions on whether the availability of guns, contribute to the increasing rate of violence in our country.  Just like the debate on violent media video games and aggression in children, different research, funded by interest groups on both sides, show statistically significant results to prove their point.

As much as I love healthy controversy, I’d like to avoid taking a position in that debate, and rather look at the issue of guns and violence through the lens of depth psychology. Eric Fromm, an internationally known social psychologist and psychoanalyst, contributed violence to a death-loving orientation and destructiveness that is the dominant passion in an individual, such as Hitler. Fromm suggests that most of us possess a tendency for love and creation, as well as death and destruction. Which one becomes more prominent is determined by social conditions, according to Fromm, in which we are the means for the ends of another and not valued for ourselves. “There must be freedom to create and construct, to wonder and to venture”, he suggests, and our industrial civilization cultivates a mechanistic life condition, which does not allow much development of humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rashin D'Angelo on June 5th, 2009
Jenn & Matt's Wedding Bands
Image by *lynne* via Flickr

Having gone through a recent divorce, the idea of marriage, or more the failure of mine, has been a constant on my mind. I have spent many days and sleepless nights overanalyzing my projections, relationship style, childhood drama, etc., etc.  After diagnosing myself with a few different personality disorders, I became determined that marriage was just not for me and vowed to never say “I do” again. Having felt better about my life decision (for now), I began thinking of marriage in a cultural sense.

Originally, marriage was originated to create an agreement between a procreating woman and an income earning man. Roles were defined and any deviance from them would deem socially unacceptable. In Christianity, a wife was to obey her husband. In Islam, she was to respect and submit to her man, and unconditionally accept his behavior, even share him with other women. The agreement was clear: A man brought home the bacon, the woman cooked it. End of story.

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Rashin D'Angelo on May 12th, 2009

human_peace

Over the last decade, with the growing popularity of social media platforms such as Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, we have experienced a shift in human connection. The social need for real community, once fulfilled by tribes and villages, is now being partly replaced by online communities. Social networking sites have become the new institutions for building relationships, being used to connect with old and new friends and build professional networks. But perhaps the larger existential desire is to feel supported and connected to a larger community. Whether we increase the number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or blog subscribers, there is an unconscious drive to be seen and valued authentically, which begs the questions “what does this desire for connection represent in our psyche? Does social media fulfill our collective need of belonging, love and affection, or contribute to our narcissistic tendencies?”

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Rashin D'Angelo on May 1st, 2009
play room
Image by PaperNest via Flickr

As part of my training for the past year, I have been using play therapy as a modality in working with traumatized young children. Play is to children as talk is to adults; the natural way they communicate and resolve difficulties. The Association for Play Therapy (ATP) has defined play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development”.

I’ve attended numerous workshops and conferences related to non-directive play therapy, sand play, and art therapy and read some of the available literature from well-known experts in the field, such as Bruce Perry, Garry Landreth and Dora Kalff. Although there are different techniques and opinions on the role of the therapist, a common theme appears to be the importance of symbols for promoting psychic healing and integration of inner and outer experience in children exposed to trauma. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brenda Murrow on April 24th, 2009
Regensburg: Walhalla: Ludwig van Beethoven
Image by bill barber (very sporadic) via Flickr

Where does that inner wellspring of creativity live and how can one touch it?  In continuing on with our interview of Dr. Allen Bishop, I’d like to discuss his views of how music can become a way for getting in touch with one’s internal essence, or beauty.

Dr. Bishop stated about the way children develop through music and art offerings in school, “mainly it’s a vehicle for developing your interiority, and not your external, social, compliant self.”

He explained his views on how music can be therapeutic personally by giving the example of Beethoven’s transformation.  “I’ve used music as a therapeutic modality for myself at different points in my life.  I use Beethoven as a model of an individual who has triumphed over adversity and some limitations.  Also an individual who shows us that, as Bion says, is always possible to bring beauty to difficult circumstances.  Beethoven brought the energy of his deafness in 1802 in the midst of suicide and depression, to reinvent himself.  As a composer and musician, his greatest music emerged out of that struggle.  I think he points to a kind of a psychology based on a certain kind of acceptance, or what he would call, resignation.  He had to resign himself to this loss. Once he could do that, then all the energy was freed and came back in this beautiful way.  I think that’s what human beings have to do.”
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Brenda Murrow on April 9th, 2009
Vincent Van Gogh (1854 1890)
Image via Wikipedia

As Rashin mentioned, we recently interviewed Dr. Allen Bishop, who is one of our professors at Pacifica Graduate Institute, as well as a musician.  Further in the interview (from what is written in Rashin’s post last week), we discussed the archetypal qualities of music.  By using the term archetypal in this way, we’re talking about things are universal in human experience- not only across cultures, but also across time.  Jung used the archetype term to describe a pattern of human experience that is consistent.  For example, there are some events like love, loss, birth, death that we all experience at some point.  When we experience these events, we feel a connection to a larger human realm.  For example, new mothers often report a feeling of being connected to all mothers, to motherhood, to the Great Mother, Mother Earth, etc.  In Jungian psychology, we call this the mother archetype and regardless of gender, each human will typically have an experience of it.

With Dr. Bishop we discussed how music can be a form of an invitation to that archetypal, mysterious experience that somehow invokes a desire for connection, and yet it is difficult to articulate why this is so.  We discussed how in making music, composers create a gateway to this experience.  In our discussion we started talking about those pieces of music that transcend time, and wondering about the composers who created them. Read the rest of this entry »

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