Stan Grof and Healing Our Deepest Wounds
By Transpersonal spirit
How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciousness Research, and Archetypal Astrology.
In this teleseminar, Rick Tarnas and Stan Grof will explore how psychedelic research has revealed the cosmic dimensions of the human psyche-by shifting the emphasis in psychology from postnatal life to the birth trauma, and deeper still to the transpersonal and archetypal realms. This deeper understanding of the human psyche gives us new insights into the roots of emotional and psychosomatic disorders. Rick and Stan will also discuss how the extraordinary predictive power of archetypal astrology gives us an invaluable tool (a “Rosetta Stone”) for understanding the mind, and how archetypal astrology can help in healing, enhance our work with psychedelics and Holotropic Breathwork, and help us to support people experiencing psychospiritual crisis (“spiritual emergency”).
Stanislav Grof is one of the world’s leading researchers and theorists in the field of psychology has a specialty in understanding non-ordinary states of consciousness the importance of spiritual health for overall psychological wellbeing. He has created a new series of lectures through Wisdom University called healing our deepest wounds at http://www.healingourdeepestwounds.com.
In this series Grof and others talk about the global crisis and the emerging paradigm shift discussing the deeper psychological implications of our current time. These deeper psychological concerns include topics generally ridiculed by science such as spiritual journey, mystical experiences, ESP, past lives, quantum physics and astrology. After over 50 years of research into consciousness Grof and others are making it clear that the boundaries between the internal and the external world are dissolving and may not exist at all.
In traditional psychological a dissolution of the boundaries between internal and external realities would be a diagnosis for a mental illness and could lead to medications, shock therapy and institutionalization in extreme cases. Grof and his wife Christina took a very close look at non-ordinary states of consciousness creating a framework for understanding the deeper meaning of non-ordinary states and have been able to distinguish between mental illness and normal or spiritually based non ordinary experiences referred to as holotropic states.
The Grofs developed what is called the spiritual emergency, this is when a person is going through difficult existential revolution marked by many possible symptoms including but not limited to depression, anxiety, hallucinations, mystical experiences, past life memories, powerful and unusual psychosomatic (mentally created) sensations. The spiritual emergency can happen at any time in one’s life and occurs in all kinds of people regardless of their beliefs. Spiritual Emergency was once thought to be psychosis and still is by those who are behind on their research, but now it is recognized as similar to the kundalini awakening described by mystics of India. Spiritual emergence is the introduction to the deepest parts of who we are. This inner world begins to manifest in our experience of life and our inner life becomes deeper and more intense, without a contextual basis to understand these experiences and without guidance the spiritual emergence can become a dangerous spiritual emergency. This has been a great contribution to the field of psychology and has helped many people avoid misdiagnosis and to move gracefully through their journey of self-discovery.
Grof also dramatically expanded the cartography of the human psyche and human consciousness in general. In this therapy sessions using LSD or using holotropic breathwork Grof’s clients would travel deep into their psyche and many traumatic memories and sensations would emerge often with powerful charge. The client was reliving various memories and experiences of the past and also experiencing the physical sensations of the dramatic event. He found that many times a person would experience multiple traumas which were similar in character either one at a time or all together at once. Observing this he created a theory known as COEX systems which mean Constellations of Condensed Experiences which linked certain emotional and psychosomatic symptoms both in life and in therapy.
Constellations of Condensed Experience is easy to understand by breaking it down word by word. Constellations meaning a series of experiences emerging from various layers in the psyche, perhaps an experience of chocking from early childhood, then near drowning as an adult and chocking on food at a restaurant these all have a similar feeling to them and thus are linked together in constellations. Condensed means summation, a conglomerate of experiences all summed up together. In the chocking example these various layers of similar traumatic experiences are link and in our mind they are condensed and begin to have a greater psychic charge because the client has merged all the chocking experiences into a singular psychosomatic gestalt. When moving deeper into the psyche people were experiencing traumatic convincing memories from the birthing process which Grof called Perinatal birth trauma.
Grof found that the COEX systems where often anchored in the experience of birth and that the client had completed birth physically, however, was still in the birthing process emotionally. He broke the perinatal into four stages which represent the four stages of birth. In the chocking example it is possible that they were chocked by the umbilical cord in the womb and the pattern of chocking experiences was set in motion from birth. Grof’s clients resolved these traumas through re-experiencing the trauma. After fully experiencing the event or events many of the defenses and behaviors began to dissolve and in some cases spontaneous recovery from treatment resistance lifelong symptoms occurred.
Trauma is the experience of stress so overwhelming that we cannot experience it fully and thus trauma is the most dissociated, hidden and defended parts of ourselves. Hiding the traumatic experience makes sense, for example, if sexual abuse happens at a young age it will be easier to process later in life when we have better understanding of the world in which we live. The trouble arises when we never go back to process those traumas, the psyche then begins to unconsciously recreate scenarios with resemble the original trauma, theoretically, in an attempt by the subconscious to bring forth the original memory so it can be resolved. Resolving the deepest wounds often led Grof and his clients beyond what they had imagined and propelled them into the transpersonal realms.
Transpersonal is a term meaning beyond the self, these are experiences which are beyond our normal experience of life such as mystical visions, past life memories, out of body experience, telepathy, experiencing scenes from the lives of our ancestors, the death and rebirth experience and many more examples. Grof found that often once the birth trauma was experienced often the client would go through psychospiritual death and rebirth and emerge in another dimension of being. In mystical experiences one would have a convincing experience of union with god and the oneness of the universe. In holotropic states of consciousness people moved beyond the known universe of Cartesian Newtonian science and emerged into the realities of the mystic. The clients enter the underworld and move through Hades to emerge a new and help society, the classic myth of the hero’s journey. There were many cases where the root trauma was linked through the COEX systems to past lives, ancestral karma, dead relatives. Some could not be helped until they experienced mystical union or encountered certain nonphysical entities. The transpersonal world was the realm of the mystic, visionary, shaman and the soul. Transpersonal realms defy many of the assumptions of science; however, it is becoming recognized as a part of the psyche.
In psychedelic therapy and holotropic breathwork, Grof has found the experiences of the clients was best predicted by astrology, specifically planetary transits related to a client’s birth chart. Research acquired over the last thirty years with assistance from Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche, shows a powerful correlation between planetary transits and the character of experience in holotropic states of consciousness. In Holotopic Breathwork retreats there can be as many as 200 people using breath work to reach holotropic states of consciousness. Grof observed in one session that 20 percent of the people experienced the archetype of crucifixion followed by a psychosomatic death and rebirth experience this date happened to be a major holiday in Christian tradition and a powerful planetary alignment linked to death and rebirth. The outer planets have a powerful effect on the nature holotropic states of consciousness but manifest in ways which are diverse and multivalent. This great variety of experiences are all linked together by a familiar resonance known as archetype. Grof suggests we can learn astrology and be able to predict the best dates for certain therapies to be applied and even use this information for spiritual practice.
When Grof was asked to go in more detail about the findings in his early career he stated that he is not interested in that stuff anymore, what he is teaching now is archetypal perspective. Grof stated, “The archetypal prospective is the supraordinating principal of all of it, the birth, the biography and selective experiences from the various layers of the transpersonal all under control of the archetypal dynamic.” Archetype is a powerful idea related to the collective unconscious and fundamental motifs that pervade all cultures and times such as the spiritual journey, the lover, myth and archetype even informs our own inner and outer experiences. Archetype could be the formative energies that can burst forth into outer existence so it can be experienced externally. Do we have the choice of how these archetypes manifest in our lives and the world? If the archetype is effect by the planetary transits and our birth chart can we have free will?
Tarnas explores these questions by reminding us that the archetype is not just a god that lies in the transcendent realms of the universe but it is a concept with many layers which are multivalent. Many of those layers are informed not just by our birth chart and the planets but also by the choices we make and what part of the archetype is ready to be expressed through our experiences and actions. The current world crisis reminds us of the archetype of the apocalypse and the end of the 24,920 year long count of the Mayan calendar. Tarnas explained how we are moving into influence with a Uranus Pluto square which will last from 2008 to 2020 which marks a time of Promethean revolution, innovation, rapid change, destruction of social orders, emergence of progressive reforms. This Pluto Uranus square alignment has a powerful effect on people in the holotropic states of consciousness indicating major breakthroughs and destruction of old systems replaced by intense creativity and innovation. Tarnas believes it will be a time of revolution and great change and that there is a possibility that as a planet we are going to create a better system and replace or modify the current structures. Synchronicity and meaning full coincidences between astrology , holotropic states, dreams, waking life and many other forms of synchronic events were presented by Carl Jung in his late career. Synchronic events seem to be a way in which the inner world and the outer world affect one another
Grof began to talk about his interest in the Mayans and in their use of holotropic states of consciousness and their deep understanding of astrology. Using the various visionary plants and other techniques for inducing holotropic states the Mayans gained an experiential understanding of astrology as well as a scientific understanding. The Mayans seem to indicate that this is an important time in history due to the powerful astrological alignments and since it’s the end of the long count many say it could be the end of the world. Grof and many others are much more hopeful about the meaning of the date 12/21/2012 and see it as a turning point which people can rally around to push for a new prospective in our social systems and ourselves.
Grof shared his vision of the archetype of the apocalypse in a recent teleseminar with Wisdom University. He explains that the apocalypse originally meant lifting of the veil and that it doesn’t only mean destruction it’s about revelation of the greater realities.
“I had a very powerful psychedelic session in which I experience the apocalypse as an archetype. so I will say a few words about it. At the beginning there was a tremendous mobilization of energy it became a kind of streaming whirling energy whirling cosmic vortex of creation and destruction. And I saw these four major muscular figures with shaved heads and kind of a pig tails and they were brandishing “L” shaped scimitars in a way it looked like a swastika. If you can imagine, you know the “L” shaped scimitar and they were dancing this dance. It looked like the blades of a Cuisinart and I began to see it was related to two things. I always was interested in the swastika because I experience 6 years of Nazi Germany when this was such a destructive symbol. And then when I started studying Tantra I saw the other side of the swastika. What was happening, there, was if the swastika was turned one way it seemed to be related to chopping the whole the unified whole, into individual pieces and related to creation where we go from one to the many. And the other direction was the spiritual journey and when we go from world of many and we dissolve boundaries and ultimately everything comes together and we become one again. So, I was getting this kind of archetypal image of creation and the spiritual journey. And then the scene changed and I saw unbelievable destruction which involved natural disasters volcanic eruption and tidal waves, volcanoes, tornadoes and so on. But also destruction created by humans, destroyed cities and breaking down bridges and sort of wars and explosions.Basically destruction of the physical world. And, I actually saw the archetypal image of the four horse man of the apocalypse. And, after experiencing this for some time it suddenly changed and I was in a cave that was like the cave Plato describes in the republic. We are prisoners in a cave and we are looking at the wall and all we see is shadows of what is happening behind us. And it’s the shadows they are created by the source of light. He describes the philosopher as one who can get up and turn around and you get the sense that what we experience in the world are these shadows. And, I suddenly understood that the apocalypse was an archetype, a powerful archetype that you can certainly experience internally the way it happened to St. John, but like any archetype it could also manifest. We have the archetype of crucifixion but crucifixion also happened historically and we have the experience of hell, the Buddhist hot hell, and then it’s enacted and you get the same kind of experience in Hiroshima when that archetypal energy sort of breaks into the physical world. So, the idea was that it’s conceivable that at some point archetype can manifest in some kind of physical destruction but then I understood the spiritual meaning of you will experience the archetype of the apocalypse in your inner world when your spiritual quest leads you to the point where stop believing the world is physical and material you see it more like the hindus in terms of maya and lila. It’s a way of consciousness what we experience as the material world is an orchestration of experience. So when you reach that point, your concept of the material world is being destroyed and that’s when the be archetype of the apocalypse kicks in. So, it’s an indication that you have reached a certain point in spiritual development and it will be possible to experience the apocalypse in the inner world to prevent it from happening in the physical world. The was a great sort of ending to this particular session where I saw this beautiful scene, kinda like a theater very ornate stage and I saw archetypal figures coming and they were bowing like they participated in the creation of this experience of the material world. And, so I saw an archetype of the warrior, I saw it as one figure but to was holographically opening to scenes of war. And the archetype of lovers and it was opening to scenes of love making and romance and I saw the trickster figure and they were coming and bowing like they expected appreciation of the good performance they did in creating this incredible show of the physical world. So that was the my own experience of the apocalypse and the understanding I got from it. It’s an archetype that occurs at a certain stage of your spiritual quest, although, it’s not impossible it would manifest in the world in the way that others have in history.”
The talks from healing our deepest wounds are pushing the envelope of consciousness taking the realities for the internal and external world merging their influences into a meaningful whole and connecting our existence back to unity with the cosmos. Grof at one point goes as far as to express his belief that we live in a virtual reality created by collective archetypes. When considering this presentation I got this incredible image of the archetype looking much like an Alex Grey painting where at certain times we make psychic soul connections to all other beings experiencing the same archetype. The collection of all these various diverse consciousness united to form this amazing image of an extra dimensional being who was a collective of united souls. We all are united at some level and live in a holographic universe of consciousness. In the west we are moving ever more quickly toward a new understanding of the universe informed by both the inner and outer channels of information. As we move deeper into the psyche we reach a point where all is connected and we realize the emotional consequences of our actions may last over multiple lifetimes if unresolved. Science is more clearly understanding the ways in which our inner world effects the outer world in both small and profound ways. It is possible that all who do deep inner work are not just healing themselves but are healing the collective in some way. By experiencing and resolving trauma we open to deeper spiritual awareness and move toward wholeness with all creation.
By: Transpersonal Spirit
Stanislav Grof received his MD from Charles University, Prague, and his PhD in Philosophy of Medicine from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology, and founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). For the past 50 years he has conducted research on therapeutic and heuristic aspects of non-ordinary states of consciousness using psychedelics and various nondrug techniques and exploring the implications of consciousness studies for psychiatric theory and the emerging scientific paradigm. In 2007, he was granted the prestigious Award >Vision 97< from the Václav and Dagmar Havel Foundation in Prague and in 2010, the Thomas R. Verny Award from the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) for his pivotal contributions to this field. He is the author of Realms of the Human Unconscious, Beyond the Brain, LSD Psychotherapy, The Adventure of Self-Discovery, The Cosmic Game, Psychology of the Future, When the Impossible Happens, The Ultimate Journey, The Stormy Search for the Self, and Holotropic Breathwork; the last two with Christina Grof.
Richard Tarnas, PhD, is a cultural historian and professor of philosophy and depth psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and is the founding director of its graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. His first book, The Passion of the Western Mind, became both a bestseller and required reading at many universities. His book Cosmos and Psyche is a ground-breaking work that represents a serious conceptual challenge to the current scientific worldview. Rick played a pivotal role in laying foundations for archetypal astrology, a discipline that explores significant correlations between cyclical alignments of the planets and the archetypal patterns of human experience—world history, culture, art, and individual biography.
Amit Goswami, Quantum Doctor A Quantum Physicists Explains the Healing Power of Integrative Medicine. Hampton roads publishing company, inc. VA. 2004, 2011.
Bache, Christopher m. Life cycles reincarnation and the web of life. Paragon house New York. 1990.
Cortright, Brant. Psychotherapy and spirit: Theory and practice in transpersonal psychology. SUNY Press. 1997.
Grey, Alex. Wilber, Ken. McCormick. Sacred mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey. Inner traditions international Rochester, Vermont. 1990.
Grey, Alex. Hofman, Albert. Larsen, Stephen. Kuspit, Donald, Wilber, Ken. Transfigurations. Inner Traditions Rochester, Vermont. 2001.
Grof Stanislav, albert Hoffman, Andrew Weil. LSD Psychotherapy, Maps Publishing CA. 1980, 1994, 2001, 2008.
Grof, Stanislav. When the Impossible Happens, 2006 True Sounds Inc. Boulder co 80306.
Grof, Stanilav, Grof Christina; Assagioli, Roberto; R.D. Laing; KJohnweir Perry, Holger Kalweit, Lee Sannella, Anne Armstrong, Keith Thompson, Jack kornfeild, Ram Das, Bruce greyson and barabara harris, Paul Rebillot, Jeneane Prevatt and Russ Park, Spiritual Emergency when personal tranmsformation becomes a crisis. Jeremy p tarcher / Putnam new York. 1989.
Grof, stanislav, grof, Christina, jack kornfeild. Holotropic breathwork a new approach to self-exploration and therapy. Excelsior editions new York. 2010
Grof, Stanislav, Joan Halifax, forward by smith Huston preface by, david jay brown and peter gasser. The ultimate journey. MAPS ca 2006, 2010.
Grof, Stanislav, 2012 and Global Consciousness, http://www.HealingourDeepest wounds.com Teleseminar aired, May 8 2012, Wisdom University Virtual Seminar.
Grof, Stanislav with Richard Tarnas, How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciousness Research and Archetypal Astrology. Wisdom University teleseminar May 15 2012
Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper Perennial Modern Classics; New York; 2009.
Laszlo, Ervin, Currivan, Jude. CosMos: A co-creator’s guide to the whole-world. Hay House Inc. Carlsbad, ca. 2008.
Levine, Peter A. Healing Trauma (book with CD) Sounds True CO. 2005, 2008.
Metzner, Ralph. The unfolding self: varieties of transformative experience. Orinin press Novato, CA 1986, 1998.
Metzner, Ralph. Green Psychology transforming our relationship to the earth. Park st press. Rochester Vermont 1999.
Sheldrake, Rupert. The Sense of Being stared at and Other Aspects of Extended Mind. Crown Publishers New York. 2003.