Psychology and its traditional forms of talk therapy are rapidly evolving to a more body-focused, transpersonal therapy modality. A relatively new form of psychotherapy worth exploring is Transpersonal Psychology. In this time of quarantine and social distancing, the reality of alienation has been setting in for some as this becomes the norm. An answer to this cry of disconnect is embracing a more holistic lifestyle through Transpersonal Psychology.
WHAT IS TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY?
Transpersonal Psychology took shape from Humanistic Psychology in 1968 with the help of renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow . We have all heard of his proposed Hierarchy of Needs, at the apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Self-Actualization — the moment in which body, mind and soul meet. Through practicing the union of body, mind and soul are means to feel whole and therefore connected, even when the individual is physically isolated.
Transpersonal Psychology encourages breathwork, yoga, psychosomatic experiences such as somatic experiencing for trauma, and meditations ranging from basic breath-awareness to inner child healing. It also adopts dance, art, music, drama and sand play therapy. Anything really that engages the mind, body and soul! It is also very important to note that talk therapy is important for self-development to engage in while undertaking these practices in order to integrate and process the experiences.
WHERE THE MIND BODY AND SOUL MEET
Transpersonal Psychology explores the state in which the mind, body and soul meet, and how when practiced in the present moment lead to self-actualization. As described by Michael Daniels in the Shadow, Self, Spirit: Essays in Transpersonal Psychology, “transpersonal literally means beyond (or through) the personal.” In essence, Transpersonal Psychology embraces connecting and identifying with something beyond our limited sense of self — transcendence. Transcendence refers to the holistic levels of human consciousness, as we embrace a larger reality. Transcendence universally affects how we behave and relate to ourselves, other human beings, other species, nature, and the cosmos even. Simply put, there is a feeling of connection to a larger, more meaningful reality. In this regard, Transpersonal Psychology contributes to the understanding of the human psyche by factoring in spirituality.
As articulated by the luminary Dr. Arthur Hastings, “Transpersonal Psychology embraces experiences, states and actions that go beyond the usual boundaries of the ego personality.” These are other, more expansive states of consciousness. In other words, these are various mental states which affect our perspective of ourselves and the world around us — such as love and compassion. Other states of consciousness can range from yoga, hypnosis, trance, inner child healing meditation, to even child-birth.
THE POWER OF MEDITATION
I often think about if meditation was encouraged at school as a tool for self-improvement. Transpersonal Psychology researches experiences that add to both inner-serenity and a universal awareness, such as meditation. It is a great example of an activity that connects the body, mind and soul. Meditation engenders self-reflection; creating not only a stronger bond with ourselves, but also opening us up to a feeling of aliveness and therefore connecting us more with something larger than just ourselves. Imagine if during the lockdown people had the self-awareness of feeling lonely, and turned to meditating as a way of being there for themselves in a deeper way — so they see their self-relationships healing.
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY
I began my journey as a Transpersonal Psychologist back in the October of 2010 on a vision quest. I had a moment of clarity where my body, mind and truly my soul were rooted in the moment. I felt the call to study this school of Psychology. In the lead up to this moment, I had a number of Psychology workshops, like art therapy courses, that had a transpersonal element to them. I began to see shifts that were taking place within me — together my knowledge of the field and my sense of self grew, finally my authenticity began to shine through me. Most importantly, I identified that this branch of Psychology held space for all parts of me and my personal development. It truly felt, and feels the most holistic. I have all these moments that led me to undertake my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in which I specialized in Creative Expression.
Transpersonal Psychology has shaped my life into so many shades of deeper meanings. As an emotional release therapist, when I feel disconnected I remind myself of the vast range of my personal development program. I use embodied practices from inner child therapy amongst many others for example, to move in and move through the discomfort. Ultimately, Transpersonal Psychology holds the space for us to embrace being whole beings on our own, yet with an innate connection to everyone and everything around us.