Tag Archives: joy

Crossing the Threshold into Old Age


We cross many thresholds throughout our lifetime.

Tomorrow I will turn 60. What a surprise to softly land at this decade of life after so many turbulent years! I’m afraid that I cannot take any credit for it happening. My arrival has come all by itself with God’s grace.

I am happy to be on the threshold of old age. One of my friends recently said, “Oh, you are entering the age of wisdom.”

“I don’t know about wisdom,” I replied, pointing to my grey hair. “But I am certainly entering the age of whitedom, wrinkledom, and forgetfulness!” I understand this birthday as the beginning of another part of my life which is about to unravel.

As Brigitte Bardot said, “It’s sad to grow old, but it’s nice to ripen.” Old age may be the time when your body starts to fail in strength, energy, and functionality. But it is also the time when the soul starts to ripen. In old age you finally have the time and perspective to weave the various threads of your life into a more comprehensive understanding of yourself. Old age is the time to harvest all your experiences into a synthesis of Joy.

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Fulfilling Your Real Needs

The Dreamer and the Judge

The Dreamer and the Judge

A few weeks ago, we looked at the subpersonality process as experienced by Maria and her integration of two subpersonalities, Miss Victorious and Miss Silent.

As previously mentioned, the subpersonality integration process includes the following stages: recognition, acceptance, coordination, integration, and synthesis.

This week, let’s look at each of these stages in detail.


We begin to recognize our subpersonalities when we consciously choose to identify the different roles we are playing in different situations with different people. A good place to start is with any conflicts you might be facing at the moment. In particular, what roles seem to no longer be successfully working? For example, one client strongly identified herself with a subpersonality called Stella who wanted no problems and needed perfection, control and certainty. This subpersonality was obviously challenged by the uncertainty and ambiguities we all must face in our everyday lives.

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Miss Victorious Meets Miss Silent

The Subpersonality Process

The Subpersonality Process

This is an edited excerpt from my article, ‘Coping with anxiety and rebuilding identity: A psychosynthesis approach to culture shock’, published in Counselling Psychology Quarterly. I am happy to announce that it has been included in an online article collection featuring the most downloaded articles published in Routledge Behavioral Sciences journals in 2014.

The collection features the top three most downloaded articles that were published and downloaded in 2014 in each Routledge Behavioral Sciences journal.

You can download my article (along with others you might find interesting) for free until the 30th June.

Special thanks to “Maria” for allowing me to use her drawings and testimony in this post.

Usually inner conflict is a result of two or more subpersonalities clashing because they each have different needs. You can begin to recognize your subpersonalities by being honest about the roles you play in your everyday life. For example, do you always need to be perfect at everything? Then you probably have a dominant Mr or Mrs Perfect subpersonality. Do you freeze when meeting new people in social settings? Then perhaps you have a Mr or Miss Freeze subpersonality. Your subpersonalities are revealed through the different roles you play in different situations with different people.

By first recognizing your different subpersonalities, you start your journey towards creating more harmony in your life. The subpersonality process includes the following stages: recognition, acceptance, coordination, integration, and synthesis. This process does not happen overnight, but takes patience and lifelong practice.

Maria’s Story


Miss Victorious and Miss Silent

Let’s take a look at how Maria (not her real name) was able to work through the subpersonality process and integrate two conflicting, polar subpersonalities: Miss Victorious and Miss Silent. The more dominant Miss Victorious wanted to control all situations and be the best. She needed recognition and could operate in the rational world with great success. Miss Silent, on the other hand, was sensitive, deeply emotional, and more creative. She wanted acceptance for who she was and needed safety, space and time alone.

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God is in Rosaleen’s Restaurant – Part 1

Artwork by Jenny Beale

Artwork by Jenny Beale

While living in Ireland in 1998, Catherine was surprised to find herself one summer working as a waitress in a little café in the popular destination town of Kinvara. Nestled in a crook of Galway Bay in the West of Ireland, Kinvara is a place of megalithic tombs, holy wells, a 14th century castle, ancient cairns, Irish music, and weekly set-dancing. Out of her experience, Catherine wrote the book “God is in Rosaleen’s Restaurant.”

This week and next, posts will feature short excerpts about her struggle with serving a penniless man.




He went right over to a couple eating their leek and potato soup-of-the-day. Bloodshot, whiskered, he wore a tattered coat over tattered clothing. I ran over to rescue the young man at the table, his face twisted with unknowing what to do and guilt for not wanting to do anything at all.

“Can I help you?” I faced the man and was struck by an inescapable heat wave of drink. All I could see was grey. Grey face, grey clothes, grey mouth, empty except for a few grey teeth.

“I don’t have any money. No money at all. But could I have a cup of tea?” His eyes were pained with the asking, (How many times that day, that lifetime?) and his face vulnerable with the fear of my response.

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God is in Rosaleen’s Restaurant – Part 2

signTwo days later, he was back, the grey man with no money or teeth. He took a seat at an uncleared table and surveyed the remains of chips and rice from the lunch curry special left behind.

The other waitress ran over to me. “He’s back,” she whispered. “He can’t be coming back all the time. He came in the other night looking for you and I sent him away. He’s a wino, you know. He’s always like that.”

It was a busy night and really no where for him to sit. I went and told him he’d have to go.

“Please can’t I have this food?” he begged. “You’re just going to throw it away.”

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Six Stages of Any Decision

We are now more than half-way through January and you may want to reflect on any New Years Resolutions you have made. Most of us choose goals like losing weight, giving up smoking, learning something new, and finding a better job or relationship. Studies show that only about 2 out of 10 of us will manage to achieve our goals. When we do succeed in achieving a set goal, we often can feel joy.

New-Year-ResolutionsAs Assagioli wrote:

“Since the outcome of successful willing is the satisfaction of one’s needs, we can see that the act of will is essentially joyous.”

If you find yourself far from feeling joyous, struggling instead with your longing to change, then maybe it’s time to take a closer look at how you make decisions. Assagioli has written extensively on decision making in his book The Act of Will. He describes six stages of the decision making process: defining purpose, deliberation, choice, affirmation, planning, and execution.

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Intuition and the Angel Highway

Most of us felt some relief saying goodbye to 2014; the news never seemed worse. Now barely two weeks into 2015, the news seems even grimmer. We can easily fall into despair about the state of the world. But recently I listened to a discussion about the physics of angels, and, to balance the horrors we see everyday in the news, I want to bring angels into the conversation.

Two Islamic angels write in the Book of Life, suggesting angels' ongoing and attentive interest in human affairs (1280 A.D., Iraq)

Two Islamic angels write in the Book of Life, suggesting angels’ ongoing and attentive interest in human affairs (1280 A.D., Iraq)

During the month of Advent, I decided to paint angels that are connected with the Christmas story. I believe they do exist and are waiting for us to listen to them. The name angel derives from the Greek angelos meaning “messenger.” Angels are agents ready to guide, creatively inspire, aid, and teach us, and they have stirred the imagination of artists, writers, mystics, and ordinary persons throughout the ages, across cultures and belief. More than 80% of Americans believe in angels.

Angels approach us through dreams, visions, and meditative states and can appear in the form of voices, human or animal shapes, as male or female or androgynous beings, or as stars or light. Beings without matter, their wings are a symbol of their great spiritual energy. We delight in their cherub cuteness, but, in reality, they can also be fierce and terrifying.

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Join the Magi – Embrace the Sublime

Often the Christmas story is left unfinished. We usually stop right after the three Wise Men offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn Child. The part we tend to skip over is the Slaughter of the Innocents. This massacre of all boys two years and younger in and around Bethlehem is a horrific part of the story that doesn’t easily fit into the joy of Christmas.


The story goes like this: Following a rising star in the hopes of paying homage to the Child, the Wise Men from the East first stop to pay their respects to King Herod in Jerusalem. They ask if he knows where the infant king is. When King Herod hears about the Child, he is perturbed by the prospect of a competitor king, as are the chief priests and scribes. Herod asks the priests if they have any idea where the Child is to be born. They cite from the prophecies that the birthplace is Bethlehem. Herod then privately summons the Wise Men and sends them onto Bethlehem, telling them to “Go and find out all about the Child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and pay him homage.”

After finding the Child and offering their gifts, the Wise Men are warned by an angel in their dreams not to return to King Herod, but to return home by another road. When Herod learns of their surreptitious departure, he is furious and decrees that all male infants must be indiscriminately killed, hoping that the Child will be among them. Meanwhile, an angel appears to Joseph in his sleep, telling him to leave immediately with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. The three become refugees and are spared from the experience of the slaughter.

The Slaughter of the Innocents is crucial to our understanding of the entire Christmas message. Once a vulnerable child full of Light and Love is born, a powerful leader feels threatened and wants him murdered. His evil desire extends not only to the child, but to many innocent children. What might this story reveal to us today?

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Playing Christmas

1980-01-01 00.04.39

The children are running around like crazy while mothers sort through white robes and gold-tinsel halos to dress the choir of angels. Ayfer, the director of the Christmas play, is showing Mary how to knee, stand up and walk backwards without tripping over her blue veil. Somebody has decided to give the boys who are playing the shepherds each a long stick as shepherds’ hooks. This is a bad idea. Four boys waiting around to be scared by an angel plus four long sticks only mean trouble. They are twirling and jabbing and thrusting the sticks at each other. I go over and tell them (in basic and bad German) that the sticks are not toys. They calm down for about two minutes and then jump up again.

We are rehearsing for the second annual Weihnachtstheater performed by the Sunday school children of St. Jesaja Syrian Orthodox Church in Gronau, Germany. Ayfer, who is a tiny yet formidable presence, lassoed me into helping with the Sunday school about two years ago. My goal was to support the mothers, marginalized within their own community, who try to offer the children a respite from the two-hour Sunday mass every week.

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A Christmas Story of Big Love

School children walk behind three-dimens

I want to write about Love. Big Love. Where do I start? And how can I possibly describe an experience that great visionaries throughout the centuries have attempted to capture in words, art, mystic prayers or song? Plato to Dante, Mozart to the Beatles, Rumi to Julian of Norwich, Bronze-age sculptors to Cezanne – they have all attempted to distill the spiritual essence of Love into matter.

Listen. Here is the Christian Christmas Story: The Higher Self and Transpersonal Will descended upon a young woman. She was frightened but, nevertheless, chose to accept this synthesis of Love and Will, nurture it, and give it birth. She gave birth to this Immense Love called God, embodied as a tiny, vulnerable child born in an abandoned cave. Choirs of angels sang for Joy!

We may wonder today where is this Big Love? How might we give birth to it? A question I often hear is: How can God let innocent children die and cause so much suffering all over the world? I believe that this question needs rewording. How can we let innocent children die, and how can we cause so much suffering in the world? The Big Love is there, everywhere, all around us, ready to fill us, waiting to overwhelm us. And yet, as we readily, hungrily grasp for it, we only too often transform this Love into something less desirable but just as powerful.

Like the Child born in Bethlehem, we too are born full of Immense Love. This love can never be at fault and is always joyful. But later, the choices of what or how we love can lead us and others towards suffering. For example, take a mother’s love for her child. Assagioli describes how initially, the mother joyfully is devoted to the protection and care of her infant. Mothers of small children must use their good will for self-denial in order to direct their energies towards their young ones. But once the child becomes older and independent, this devotion and sacrifice by the mother can turn into attachment and possessiveness.

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