When I tell people I’m a depth psychologist, I’m often asked, “What IS depth psychology? A better question may be: why is everyone looking for their soul? Has anyone found it? I was so taken by the search that I went and got a degree in this illusive concept.
Depth psychology is the study of soul. The soul within us and the soul around us. It is based on a view that the world itself is ensouled, inclusive of the cosmos, the natural world, and the unseen forces beyond what is readily visible. Just as changes in the natural world are symptoms of larger shifts in the cosmos (i.e. the tides coming and going with the movements of the moon), the pervasive symptoms of human disease – depression, anxiety, and addictions – are an invitation to deeper inquiry into the unseen as well as the seen, and to remember and discover who we really are. The symptoms of your suffering are considered the “voices of the gods” asking you to bring greater awareness to what you may be blind to in yourself.
When you find the courage to unearth and inhabit your whole self, you gain access to your highest purpose, the meaning of your life, and abundant joy. Rather than feeling at the mercy of unseen elemental forces inside of you, like a ship caught in a storm, you can understand not only how to navigate the storm, but where the storm comes from and why. Ultimately, you come to know that it is your inner nature that is the storm itself.
Leading thinkers in the depth, archetypal (James Hillman), psychoanalytic (Sigmund Freud), and analytic psychology (Carl Jung) fields have written hundreds of thousands of words about what the soul “is.” Depth psychology includes a cross-disciplinary approach to this topic drawing into its consideration religious studies, cultural anthropology, ecological studies, consciousness and cosmology, sociology, and quantum physics as well as the arts and humanities.
I like to keep things simple. Here is my one-sentence interpretation: the soul is your spiritual twin. She lives on the etheric in the invisible force beyond all this visible life. Her center is everywhere and circumference is no where. When you direct your life towards this connection, your sense of place and purpose is restored, and your inner (soul) and outer (humanity) worlds are united.
When I encourage you to direct your life to your connection with your soul, I do not mean this in a religious sense, but rather as a move to live your intactness or wholeness. Otherwise, you feel cut off, lost, and profoundly alone in a culture that has no language, mythology, or place for this relationship. Your relatedness in this way is the umbilical cord between the physical and spiritual worlds of your life and the conduit for all your creativity. You know you are flowing in this relationship when you experience synchronicity, chance encounters, and a sense of enchantment. Life feels like a lucid dream – yours.
Martin Prechtel suggests that everyone possesses an indigenous soul “as our place of origination, beyond culture, race or our ancestral biases.” When Prechtel says “indigenous,” he means native to a place beyond the cultural fiction that traps us into a life-threatening amnesia, or to put it more simply, the cultural forces at work to convince us that consumerism and selfies will take us “there.”
We know where to find the selfies, so where do we find ourselves?
Live through your senses.
Just ask any surfer what it’s like when they “drop into a wave.” Think about the last time you were broken open by a piece of poetry or the smile of a small child. Think of a moment you pulled your car to the side of the road to watch a sunset, or weep to a particularly moving song on the radio.
Soul lives in myth, dreams, ritual, symbol, metaphor, and beauty. Smell, sight, touch, and sound are her sensory organs. Where else can the ephemeral live but within the vibratory frequencies of our somatic senses that understand what is it to move like the wind? She is the soft intuition that whispers to you or the desire that calls you to be bigger, bolder, and more profoundly you in some way.
Soul can not be literalized, captured, or extracted from what ignites it into our awareness. Soul only comes into being through our awareness of it.
Where will you find yours today?
Yours in psyche and spirit,