Dragons In the Basement!
Once calm, our gifted brain can come back full-force and finally work its magic—take us with full presence to the heights and depths of life experience. With anxieties quieted through calming practices and resolved negative patterns, we can start to expand our identity, set boundaries, establish visions that make sense, feel at one with the Universe, or tackle any personal or therapy goal we’ve set.
Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., has referred to this type of depth therapy as “soulcraft.” He differentiates between spirit, a masculine concept, and soul, a feminine ideal. Masculine energy is action-oriented and reaches upward. Feminine energy is nurturing and reaches inward. As in shamanic traditions, Plotkin refers to things of the spirit as "upperworld aspects” and soul as “underworld aspects.” The “middleworld” is where we live out our lives physically on the planet. Our culture has been inundated with upperworld programming.
In contrast, for soulwork, we must reach into our depths to poke around and reveal hidden elements of the deepest part of us—our unconscious. We peek inside the bag of issues that we’ve been dragging around, as one famous Jungian analyst has metaphorically described The Shadow. Since we aren't developed enough to accept the truth of these severe issues, we keep them hidden in the bag. We know the issues exist because we have uncomfortable feelings, emotional distress, or angst triggered by certain people or situations.
To remove the hooks of the middleworld long enough to walk around in the underworld takes some reprogramming. Jung theorized that indigenous people of the past conducted their lives with a mindset of connection with spirit or soul, but not because these ancients were more highly evolved. Jung theorized quite the opposite—that primitive Homo sapiens were less developed and, similar to nonhuman animals, lived in a trance-like state, one that we modern humans don’t understand. Evolution, and scientific movements like the Industrial Revolution, have turned us into beings who hyper-focus on time, machinery, technology, money, employment demands, transportation, and other aspects of middleworld operations. Disengaging from those hooks is similar to putting away addictions, like turning off the cell phone to resist the urge to check for texts and notifications. Shutting out technology sets up anxiety.
The following are examples of issues that require soulwork:
- Dissatisfaction with your identity and friend connections.
- An unexplained feeling of discontent or existential frustration.
- Feeling trapped in a situation that seems to have no solution.
- Relationship patterns that repeat time and again, escalating heartbreak and self-loathing.
- Having fears that obstruct significant life changes, such as starting a business or new career, relocating to a new region, or leaving a toxic relationship.
- Being stuck in anger or grief.
- Realization of problematic personality elements formed in childhood.
- Being in love simultaneously with two people.
- Being depressed and restless, suspecting a developmental crisis.
- Coping with something challenging, such as a chronic illness of a family member.
Let the animal within be calmed, and then deepened with soulwork, enlightened with spirit. It's up to us to work on ourselves, so we can evolve and help save our ravaged world.