Tag Archives: spirituality

Successful Willing

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 feel joyful.

New-Year-Resolutions

As 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.

Which Way to Go - 3 Colorful Arrow SignsOur decision making process is only as strong as our weakest stage and usually we are more effective with some of these stages than others. For instance, I once had a client who skipped over any deliberation, which often caused her problems later once she realized that the action she decided to take wasn’t necessarily the best. Let’s take a closer look at each stage of any decision.

Stage 1: Defining Purpose

The first step is to identify your intention or goal. During this step, you explore your goal. Try to be honest about your motivation. Throughout this discussion, I will use myself as an example. My goal is to create more satisfaction in my life. Questions I need to explore are: What is blocking me from receiving more satisfaction? What do I need to do/feel/experience in order to create more satisfaction? Perhaps I need to spend more time alone, increase my self-esteem, garner more faith and trust, communicate my own needs more openly, or no longer fear taking a risk.

Try to narrow down one thing that you might achieve towards your goal. Pick the one that you feel most enthusiastic about, that feels most worthwhile. I pick: Write a book about subpersonalities. Finally state your goal clearly and precisely:

I use my will to … (write a book about subpersonalities).

Stage 2: Deliberation

Next you must weigh all the possibilities you have to achieve your purpose. This is the brainstorming stage where anything goes. It is not the stage where you evaluate, judge or reject any idea. Let your ideas flow, include everything that occurs to you, and play with the endless possibilities. For example, I can join a writing class or workshop (in the South of France!), I can schedule time everyday to write, I can find a class online, I can find a writing buddy that helps motivate me …

Then examine your responses and explore their consequences. Consider how willing you are to accept responsibility for them. Take your time for this process.

Stage 3: Choice

change-sign-postsEventually, you will have to choose one of your options. Some people never get beyond the deliberation stage. Instead they become enamored with the fantasy and, consequently, lack the will to actually perform the action needed to achieve their goal. (This is my problem! How many times, in my head, have I been interviewed about the best-seller that I  still have to write!?) Write your choice down clearly and precisely:

I use my will to … (write every morning).

Stage 4: Affirmation

Next you affirm your decision. Just by sharing my choice with all of you, I am affirming it. You might think this stage unnecessary, but it helps to ground the idea in reality and protect it from your own inner Saboteur. Later, whenever you might feel discouraged, you can come back to your affirmation. Write it down:

I (name) choose to … (your choice).

Stage 5: Planning

Planning can be a key stage to establishing your success. Paradoxically, we tend to limit ourselves when we think too big. Think in SMALL STEPS. Prepare a detailed plan that specifically is directed towards your chosen option. What is the first step you have to take? Who else is involved? What equipment, material, money, space, time, do you need? How do you evaluate your success?

Consider for a moment how you might defeat yourself. How might you resist this new change. How are you going to deal with any inner resistance? Use your imagination to visualize your plan to its successful completion. Always think positively about your purpose and intended outcome.

For example, my plan includes: reviewing my notes, writing an outline for the book, starting a chapter, and looking for a literary agent.

Stage 6: Execute

Finally, you actually execute the decision. Execution of will requires you to use skillful will, feelings, imagination and impulses to constantly supervise your activities. You also have to be flexible and adopt your plan to any change in conditions and circumstances. (For example, what if my “real work” starts to demand more time from my writing? What if I suddenly feel bored with my book?)

Slowly, you begin to work towards your goal. By focusing on your small successes, you can begin to enjoy the benefits of what you have achieved. In this way, you recharge the energy you need to continue towards your goal, and are always moving towards Joy.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

Harkening Within

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Etty Hillesum in 1939

Seventy-five years ago on November 30th, a young Dutch Jewish intellect died at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her legacy of love and reconciliation, as described in her ten diary notebooks and the many letters that she wrote, continues to inspire people around the world. Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) was only 29 years old when she died, but during her short lifespan she managed to live a life of contemplative spirituality and practice in a world that seemed to be falling to pieces around her.

Hillesum grew up in a non-religious home of intellectuals. Her parents were both teachers – her father taught the classics and her mother Russian literature. Hillesum had two younger brothers, both very talented but mentally unstable. She describes having grown up in a “chaotic and sad situation … a madhouse where no human being can flourish.” Continue reading

When No Money Talks

Assagiolis writing about jail

Assagioli’s writing about his time in jail.

One of my favorite anecdotes from Assagioli’s time in prison is when his prison money was running out. He wrote in intimate detail about this experience in his book Freedom in Jail, under the chapter “An Incident and a ‘Test’”.

From the time of his arrest, Assagioli’s wife Nella was making sure that there was enough money in his prison account to warrant his receiving special treatment. In 1940, Regina Coeli prisoners could buy a more comfortable, private cell and more varied and higher quality food. Continue reading

The Prodigal Daughter

1024px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Detail_Father_Son

Detail from Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son”.

I have always loved the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32), yet at the same time, struggle with it. The story seems so male in context. A young man returns home repentant and humbled after squandering his inheritance on a life of debauchery. His father is moved with pity, and runs to welcome his son home, clasping him in his arms and kissing him.

“Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. We will celebrate by having a feast, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.”

Meanwhile the elder son who always slaved in the fields and obeyed his father grows angry and refuses to enter the celebrations. But the father says:

“My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”

What would the story of the prodigal daughter be, and what would her return to the welcoming mother reveal? Continue reading

Resting on Angel Wings

Mother of Horus Isabelle Bagdasarianz-Küng without saying

The Mother of Horus. (Photo by Isabelle Bagdasarianz Küng)

How can we cope with the overpowering images and messages from the daily news? Hurricanes, fires, mass murder, nuclear threats, and crazed world leaders can be overwhelming, pushing us towards a spiral of negative thoughts. Naturally, we want to be informed about what is going on in the world so we can make clear decisions and activate change. But we also need to find the right balance in our lives so we don’t feel lost in the constant swell of bad news.

The key is to seek equilibrium. Like feasting on salty food all day, when we only nourish ourselves by munching on the news, we can make our hearts and minds ill. We need to refresh ourselves with the taste and sound of spring waters, waters that might help us flush the salty taste from our mouths and renew our bodies and souls.

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Places of the Higher Self

Five-day Journey Through the Green Heart of Italy

September 18-23, 2017

Assagioli at camadoli

We will visit the Camaldoli Hermitage near Florence. Here is a photo of Roberto Assagioli (fourth from the left) outside of this same hermitage (courtesy of Fernando Maraghini).

In our everyday lives we are often too busy, distracted, or caught in the mundane to be open to the places of the Higher Self. Throughout history and across cultures, our ancestors have always created ritual space and time for the transpersonal to enter into the ordinary. Such holy places are often located on mountaintops and deep inside caves, in silent havens and in nature. Churches, temples, and mosques have been built to hold the polar tensions of spirit and matter, inner and outer space and light, as well as the community that shares the transcendent experience. As an expression of beauty, awe, and awakening, art has also always played a great part along this journey to our Higher Self.

La Verna, Italy

La Verna, Italy

Continuing with the theme of “Synthesis,” after the International Meeting at Casa Assagioli, we embark on a Journey to the Higher Self. Starting from Florence, we travel east to visit medieval churches and mountain hermitages, allow our souls to soar from La Verna, discover beautiful villages and, of course, enjoy the cucina locale. During this five-day journey, you will have a chance to discover places of transcendence in the green heart of Italy – in the forest-covered Tuscan and Umbrian Apennines, the home of many generations of seekers and saints of the transpersonal.

The journey is especially meant to be an open voyage of discovery and a direct personal experience of all that presents itself during its various stages. We will go slowly and quietly, allowing you the time and space necessary to directly experience the reality of the Higher Self, the key part of you that connects the personal with the transpersonal and, hence, the personal with the universal.

DSC01520This journey promises to be a fonte of inspiration for anyone seeking the Higher Self in the natural beauty and surroundings of Italy. We hope to provide you with a journey that might help transform and strengthen you when you ultimately return to your daily life.

This trip is organized and hosted by Catherine Ann Lombard and Kees den Biesen, the guides and facilitators.

Cost: € 985.00 per person. For more information and registration, see A Journey to Places of the Higher Self.

Women’s Psycho-Spiritual Gifts

Olga Froebe Studio Assagioli

Painting by Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, hanging in Assagioli’s studio in Florence.

In his controversial essay, “The Psychology of Woman and her Psychosynthesis,” Assagioli discusses the psychological characteristics of both women and men, and how together, “each can become, psychologically, a complete human being.” He also describes in detail “womanly functions” such as the maternal function and wifely function.

In June, 2016, Piero Ferrucci related a funny story about this essay and Assagioli’s ideas concerning feminine roles. In the 1970s, Betty Friedman, author of the Feminist Mystic, came to meet Assagioli in Florence. She had a great time and during a guided meditation, the image came to her of a rainbow uniting men and women in the world. She asked for some of Assagioli’s writings to take back with her. Despite Ferrucci asking Ida Palombi, Assagioli’s secretary and associate, not to give Freidman his controversial writings on the psychology of men and women, Palombi did. And they never saw Friedman again.

Continue reading