Tap into Transformative Power
To be practical and win others’ approval, many people put aside their dreams and set new priorities that are out of synch with their authentic selves. In midlife or during crises such as experiencing health problems or losses (jobs, loved ones, marriages, and so on), we often will awaken to how much we have constricted ourselves and compromised our values. Exploring themes of authenticity and transformation can make us feel frightened as we face truths about ourselves that we have tried to ignore. Yet, these themes can also lead us to breakthroughs and positive changes.
I was able to reclaim my mythopoetic self—my spiritual nature—and gain greater satisfaction as a result of doing inner work: I saw how I had repressed my desire to explore the realm of psychology and how the mind works. By tapping into transformative power available to me, I became able to live more authentically.
If you are thinking about making changes in your life, you might want to reflect on the compromises you have made. You can start by working with your unconscious and what it knows, making it conscious so that you can be honest with yourself about choices you have made and why. This work can be unsettling yet rewarding. Doing dreamwork, Jungian sand tray work, and taking shamanic journeys that allow you to access your unconscious and its beneficial insights and energies can bring into your awareness the answers to questions such as:
What compromises have I made that I regret?
What are my deepest desires?
How could I live more authentically, in sync with those desires?
What do I need to let go of?
What do I need to bring in?
I once undertook a shamanic journey to engage the energy of jaguar, an archetypal energy that Andean shamans recognize as a powerful ally for transformation. I and a shaman I know who was doing the work with me entered nonordinary reality, and as everyday awareness gave way, I entered a realm beyond the limitations of my senses. In my hand was a jaguar stone that the shaman had given me—a stone said to hold jaguar energy and carved with the face of this feline that roams the rainforest. Suddenly, the stone began to pulse and throb as if it were breathing.
“It’s alive! It’s alive!” I shouted to the shaman.
“Feed it! Feed it! Before it feeds on you!” he exclaimed
Quickly, he pressed into my other hand my bottle filled with Florida water, used for blessings, ceremonies, and cleansings. “Feed it! Hurry!” he cried. Knowing what he meant, I took some of the liquid into my mouth and sprayed it out int a mist toward the jaguar before it could devour me.
Instinctively, I knew the beast hungered for me just as I had hungered for its essence—the alchemical potential I had yearned for as far back as I could remember. I waited, transfixed. Had my offering been accepted? Then, the jaguar’s threat lifted like a fog and floated away into the night air. I felt the wet stone in my palm, sinister no more yet still alive, warm, and breathing. My heart still pounded, but I realized the danger had passed.
Feed it. So simple.
My soul had craved nourishment, yet I had denied it again and again in the interests of practicality. Life was hard work and responsibility, not a poem or a mystery—that’s what I’d learned from my family and the midwestern culture in which I’d been raised. Conforming to these values, I suppressed my yearnings for many years.
My experience with the shaman and the jaguar did not just offer me the insight that now was the time to feed my soul before my longing for nourishment ate away at me, making me even more restless than I had been already and perhaps even causing me to develop an illness or disease. I believe this experience also offered me the elixir of jaguar energy that fueled actual changes I made in my everyday life, changes that set me on a new, rewarding path to becoming a shamanic practitioner, integrating shamanism into my everyday life and work, and eventually, becoming an author and philanthropist. As an ally to me, the Jaguar has helped me to change the story of my life to be more satisfying—but it took quieting the activity of my conscious mind and engaging my unconscious to access this source of transformative power.
What might you be able to change in your life if you were to tap into your unconscious and explore the wisdom and energies for change available to you there? You might be underestimating the transformative power available to you and the insights available in your unconscious.
This article is excerpted from my book The Necktie and the Jaguar: A Memoir to Help You Change Your Story and Find Fulfillment and appeared previously in Conscious Community magazine and The Life Connection magazine.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.
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