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False Identifications

To act "from our centre" can be difficult, as we have all experienced. One major difficulty in learning to act "from centre" is the large number of false identifications we make with specific elements within ourselves. We may identify, for example, with a temporary feeling such as fear or anger, and lose or distort our true perspective. Or we may become identified with one of our "subpersonalities" , those semi-autonomous and often contradictory aspects of ourselves that follow a predictable, pre-programmed routine when evoked by a certain set of circumstances. Much of the basic work of psychosynthesis is aimed at recognizing and harmonizing subpersonalities. We are then no longer helplessly controlled by them, but can learn to bring them increasingly under conscious direction. Essential to this involves learning the central process of "dis-identification" from all that is not the self, and "self-identification," or the realisation of our true identity as a centre of awareness and will.

Methods Employed

There are a wide variety of methods employed in psychosynthesis to meet the diversity of needs presented by different situations and different people. Each person is treated as an individual, and an effort is made to find the methods best suited to the person's existential situation, psychological type, unique goals, needs, and path of development. Some of the methods more commonly used include guided imagery, body awareness and movement, symbolic art work, journal-keeping, training of the will, goal-setting, dreamwork, development of the imagination and intuition, gestalt, ideal models, and meditation. The approach in psychosynthesis is to treat the person as a whole, although any one session may focus on a particular level or aspect. In aiming at integration of body, feelings, and mind, psychosynthesis has as a goal to foster an on- going growth process, in which we apply the basic attitudes and techniques of psychosynthesis in daily living to achieve a more joyful, harmonious, and full actualisation of our lives.

The Stages of Psychosynthesis

Every person is an individual, and the integration of each person follows a unique path. But in the overall process of psychosynthesis we can distinguish two consecutive stages - personal and transpersonal psychosynthesis. In personal psychosynthesis, the integration of the personality takes place around the personal self, and the individual attains a level of functioning in terms of his work and his relationships that would be considered optimally healthy by current standards of mental health.

In the transpersonal stage of psychosynthesis, the person learns to achieve alignment with, and to express the energies of the Transpersonal Self, thus manifesting such qualities as social responsibility, a spirit of cooperation, a global perspective, altruistic love, and transpersonal purpose. Often the two stages overlap, and there can be a considerable amount of transpersonal activity long before the stage of personal psychosynthesis is complete.

What is Psychosynthesis?

Psychosynthesis is an approach to human development fostered by Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) beginning around 1910 and continuing to the present day. It is both a theory and practice where the focus is to achieve a synthesis, a coming together, of the various parts of an individual's personality into a more cohesive self. That person can then function in a way that is more life-affirming and authentic. Another major aspect of psychosynthesis is its affirmation of the spiritual dimension of the person, i.e. the "higher" or "transpersonal" self. The higher self is seen as a source of wisdom, inspiration, unconditional love, and the will to meaning in our lives.

Psychosynthesis is founded on the basic premise that human life has purpose and meaning and that we participate in an orderly universe structured to facilitate the evolution of consciousness. A corollary is that each person's life has purpose and meaning within this broader context and that it is possible for the individual to discover this.

Psychosynthesis has had a profound impact on the human potential movement. For example, the use of guided imagery and the concept of subpersonalities originate in Psychosynthesis.

Introduction to Psychosynthesis

In its most basic sense, psychosynthesis is simply a name for the process of growth, the integration of previously separate elements into a more comprehensive unification or synthesis. It believes each of us has an innate drive toward the unfolding of ourselves, and that we can choose to consciously support that process. While it is generally known that we have a responsibility to this end, we have not always known how to go about it. To address this, psychosynthesis provides both theory and practice. It offers a framework that enables a more complete understanding of ourselves, our capacities, and our relationships, as well as skills and techniques, to help us deal with these effectively and safely.

The Self

Unlike most forms of psychotherapy, psychosynthesis recognizes a part of us which is difficult to name. It has been referred to as "higher" or "deeper." In any case it is for us the source of inspiration, guidance, comfort, strength, peace, hope. Psychosynthesis calls this part the "self," and goes on to say that integration, synthesis, or unification of the personality, happens around this self. Since this "self" has two aspects, the personal and the transpersonal, synthesis happens in two stages, first the personal, followed by the transpersonal.

The recognition of the self is essential, for without it, the attempt at wholeness is done at the expense of diversity and individuality. A unity that is achieved through uniformity, is by nature fragile, and is threatened by uniqueness and difference. A unity based on the self, on the other hand, is stable, for it is able to balance the interests of the whole with those of each of the parts.

Psychosynthesis is Empowering and Gentle

One of the strengths of psychosynthesis is that it provides practical methods to recognise and access the "higher" or "deeper" part of ourselves, so that the process of growth happens according to an "inner wisdom." What this also means, is that in accessing this truly empowering part of ourselves, the person's own inner self is not violated or imposed upon. It is allowed to unfold at its own speed, and according to its own pattern. It honours all parts of our being, enabling the working through of blocks that hinder growth, without creating further blocks in the process.

Functions of the Self

The two central functions of the personal self are consciousness and will. The consciousness of the self enables one to be clearly aware of what is going on within and around him or her, to perceive without distortion or defensiveness. This has been called the inner "attitude of the observer." To the extent that one is able to achieve this vantage point, the claims of the personality and its tendency to self-justification no longer stand in the way of clear vision.

The will is considered a direct expression of the self in psychosynthesis and is given a central place. Through releasing the will of the Self, we gain freedom of choice, personal responsibility, the power of decision over our actions, and the ability to actively regulate and direct the many personality functions. In this way we are freed from helpless reaction to unwanted inner impulses and to the expectations of others. We become truly "centred," and gradually become able to follow a path that is in accordance with what is best within each of us. At the  highest level of will development, we seek to align our personal will with a more universal will, thus increasing the capacity to serve the forces of evolution and to find a deeper meaning and purpose in our personal lives and our social tasks, and to become able to function in the world more effectively and serenely, in a spirit of cooperation and good will.

1996 Mindscape Limited

Designed By David Lloyd-Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred) INLPTA

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