Psychospiritual Integration

As the twentieth century comes to a close, we human beings find ourselves moving through a significant time of transition. The call grows stronger every day to let go of our old, limited patterns of thinking and behaving so that we can embrace the new, more harmonious ways of living in the world. We are being urged from within to die to the past and be resurrected.

— Yogi Amrit Desai

The Blending of Our Human/Spiritual Natures: Humanity’s Evolutionary Task at the Closing of an Age

You are being called now to come into your highest expression–to rise fully into “the light of your own soul” and to stand for what you know as Truth. Your time of completion is here! If this is your truth, you will resonate with this message. If not, then that’s okay, too. You will, however, hear others in-your life speaking of this “call.” Perhaps this book help you relate to them. NOW, if this is your truth, the knowledge you require is going to come quite rapidly as you learn to look within: One small moment of accessing this numinous inner wholeness brings you back in touch with your soul’s original purpose for incarnation, reminding you once more of your true life’s work and spiritual significance.

Your spiritual nature is a psychological fact. It is the real and transformative force that empowers your life. To deny this core nature of yours is to deny your very Self.

A process of “psychospiritual integration” begins to occur naturally when the ego and soul turn to focus upon one another. When this happens, we’ve landed at the gateway of the heart. A cry goes out from the hungry and fretful ego, having gone to the edge of its own power. It reaches up toward spirit, and a response is heard from the soul, from the subjective world of the vast collective unconsciousness, in touch with the Greater Story. The soul descends to meet its concretized counterpart with a feeling of compassion and love. As we open our hearts in a willing and accepting attitude, our process of purification begins.

So at first, all hell breaks loose! For as we’ve already seen through our bare beginnings here, the two aspects of our nature are opposite from one another and complement each other: feminine/masculine, earthy/airy, dark/light, personal/ transpersonal, dense/transparent, intense/light-hearted– in form as in spirit. Obviously, there would be great upheaval at first, as the two consciously enter one body. Many people, in fact, never even make it to this point of their process of individuation, that of becoming an effective psychospiritual human in the world, an undivided “in-dividual.”

When you first invoke a spiritual quality, you can learn to be specific concerning the particular “brand” that will best balance your personality. Then, I must warn you: You’ll attract to yourself the tests that will best train you for this new skill! Your body/ego will undergo whatever purification it must to become similar to the ideal you’ve demanded. You’ll probably be put through an ordeal of experiencing its opposite at first. Therefore, it can feel worse instead of better at the start. For example, if “patience” is what you name as balancing an overly active impetuous nature, you’ll be showered with opportunities that try your patience to the hilt while your impetuousness is refined.

The soul’s main task is to aid humanity in dissolving dualism, helping it learn to live within the tension of the complementary opposites within its own nature.

The task of psychospiritual integration, then, is to honor the dual aspects of our nature, the ego and the soul, the past and the future life, and to see that all are sacred and arise from out of the same life stream, the whole. In this type of personal work, we are adopting Tielhard de Chardin’s definition of us as “spirit-matter” who can never be split into an “either/or.” To deny our human feelings or our divine heritage either one will lead us into a cul-de-sac of nongrowth and, quite possibly, the repetition of some old painful lesson in living. Both aspects are necessary for the “wholing” of the psychospiritual Self.

To awaken means to become fully responsible and consciously participate in our own personal and collective unfoldment. This natural evolutionary process happens all by itself; we simply learn to get out of its way and cooperate with the larger patterns that are influencing us from within. To assume responsibility for “our part” of this co-creative process, we have to turn inward and seek our truth from within our own nature. Otherwise, we’re just doing the same old inauthentic thing: living our lives by the borrowed truths of others’ ideas and beliefs about how everything “ought to be,” and depending on their bias on how we “ought to heal.”

Sometimes, of course, others can be our guides; for their way of viewing things tracks with our direct experience and validates what we are getting for ourselves. Yet, as we know only so well, many of these external theories are just “talk,” and only match someone else’s intellectual constructs that may appear logical, and worked for them, but do not necessarily speak to us or move us into new ways of being.

Accessing higher potentials within ourselves begins by asking. We start by recognizing these higher dimensions of human consciousness as real, thereby giving them meaning. Anything we make real in such a way then has permission to move in and impact our psyches, but not otherwise! On this planet, we have free will, so anything coming from a higher Source must have our permission to interfere with our lives. This answers that age-old question concerning prayer: “Well, if God already knows everything, then He knows what we need. So why do we need to pray?” Our asking is the key! This is how co-creation works. We do it through a process called “invocation,” which is how conscious co-creators pray.

The Power of Invocation: The Call Goes Out; The Response is Heard

The words invocation and evocation describe a mysterious emanation, a voiceless appeal representing an inherent urge toward freedom. This yearning to transcend a condition is innate in every species. It concerns interplay and relationship with two dimensions of consciousness when a shift is needed toward a higher way. As a plant pushes toward the sun, and a child extricates itself from parental influence, we, as a species, push toward the transcendence of our nature into that of the divine Life. Ultimately, this “sacred hunger” causes us to unite with our highest blueprint, bringing our completion.

Invocation is how we access a higher order when we choose to participate consciouslyin our own evolution. When we choose to invoke our Higher Power, we are taking a stand as co-creators in the Divine Plan. We can either do this consciously now and awaken, or unconsciously, as we’ve done in the past. But participate, we do! So we may as well take responsibility for our part and not simply toss ourselves chaotically into the rapidly spinning spirals of fate.

Invocation is Co-creative Prayer

Invoking is active prayer, a self-assertive way to pray that lacks the passive religious connotations. In the past, prayer was our approach, but this was an emotional appeal, more of a plea of helplessness, asking that God come into our lives and help us. Common prayer often is predicated on the notion that we are weak and ineffectual creatures at

the mercy of an external god not related to us at all. Invocation is prayer for the Aquarian Age, where Self-empowerment is our keynote; it is a co-creative appeal to a Higher Power, indicating we’re ready and eager to do our part, as Spirit’s hands and feet. The power of invocation gives us a position of strength, yet we know that we don’t have the power to create high qualities apart from our God-nature. We invoke them and make a commitment to enact these divine powers through our body/ego as they surface within us from our Source. This is what the co-creation truly means. It is a demand: “Send me my instructions! I am willing to take the ball and run.”

Points of Attainment Along the Road

These points of attainment along our road gradually merge our inner aspirations and our outer expression into one life, the building blocks of embodying spirit. These psychospiritual tasks are initiatory in quality, for they each bring us into a new part of ourselves. They each contain a lesson in the balancing of the opposites. They are “trials by fire” that when mastered become great powers we can wield, in love and truth. Though somewhat ordered and hierarchical, these psychospiritual goals do not necessarily come in a linear way. There are fourteen “tasks” or “intentions” briefly described in what follows. In studying these, you may discover more on your own.

1. We enter onto the Path Through pain and suffering, or some sort of bottoming out, we begin to release our preoccupation with the outer world of appearances and turn inward to a way that is more fitting for our nature. Unfortunately, most of us take this step only after extreme devastation. But it doesn’t have to be this way: We can learn from our observation of life and the trials we’ve already overcome, to consciously choose this less traveled inner way.

At this first stage of our journey as conscious co-creators, we sacrifice our attachment to the illusions we’ve held within the world of appearances. We stop old dysfunctional behaviors and watch ourselves instead of acting out. Keeping a journal of our desires and insights, using a friend or group for support, or going into therapy, are very helpful at this critical stage of our awakening. We have the courage now to say to our inner God:

Let Reality govern my every thought and Truth be the master of my life!

And it does require courage to state this affirmation: It will bring down any illusory aspect of your life, sometimes in one fell swoop! We are tempted no longer by superficial distractions. They bore us. We learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and turn away from things that have no ultimate meaning for us. This is a test of faith.

2. We recognize our true nature. As we begin to trust this inner way, through our own experience of it (for there is no other way to know this path), we begin to realize that we’ve always known the truth, that we are made in the image of our Creator-God, that we are more than what we appear to be. We see that we don’t have to learn a lot of new things; we only need to remember ourselves and why we are here. As inner miracles unfold, and we begin to meet others of like intention, we feel heartened, and we become more certain that our nature is both human and divine.

3. We face and embrace our shadow self. The shadow is the easiest of the archetypes to access. It won’t leave us alone until we face it! Therefore, we must “enter into that narrow door” and turn ourselves over to the process of accepting our dark and unloved side. This does require inner work, and usually even some humiliation. But in the midst of loving company of others like ourselves, who are also doing inner work, we can come out of denial about our undeveloped and unconscious side.

4. We reenter our past and release its hold on us. Anyone who inhabits a body has unfinished business from the past. When we enter the path, it’s as though a wise intelligence shines a light into the dark closets of our subconscious minds. We are commanded to reenter these old storage bins and dredge up any unresolved emotions or situations that still need to be forgiven. Forgiving is divine forgetting, and for this activity, there is no quick fix available; it is a process.

Forgiveness means to reenact the original “insults,” with the objectivity now of the observer self. As we shine the light back into our past, we see not only our helplessness and innocence, but also the ignorance and causes in the lives of those who harmed us. And from our more lofty view, we can see how it all made sense, having come from painful and constrictive fear, the wrong side of love. We begin to see the Bigger Picture. Forgiving ourselves and others for their mistakes and ignorance releases us. It’s not about letting others off the hook; they still must face their own errors and harmful ways. Forgiveness is about setting ourselves free of the past.

5. We refine our personalities. As we start to forget our past, we have more free attention to place on the status of our unfolding Self. We begin to invoke qualities of that Ideal that lives in our heads and hearts, that one we are longing to be. And as it begins to show itself within our subjective life, we start to take this identity on. As we do, our old “parts” begin to dissolve, and we are changed. First we’ll notice that the same old things no longer bother us. Next we’ll begin to notice that our outward appearance changes. People who haven’t seen us for a while will stop us with statements like, “What’s happening to you? You look so different.” Then, before we know it, we’ll be acting and living more as the newer, more integrated Self.

Lessons will appear in life everywhere we need refining. As we undergo the lessons consciously, we’ll learn for ourselves which parts we wish to hold on to and which parts we need to release. No one else can decide that for us.

Along with this refinement process, our life’s purpose and true talents become visible. At first, we might not believe it. Could we really be so special that we might have a talent or two? Something worthwhile to offer back to the Life that gives us so much?

Yes. Yes. We start to evidence the aspects of our nature that fit with our life’s mission and true purpose. Yet we see that much stuff is still in our way. So we follow ideas and practices, programs or therapies that are self-actualizing. We begin to take our own healing and inner work seriously.

And these opportunities will present themselves as if by magic, too. Our commitment and spiritual intention provide the key. Now, you may take this last sentence lightly, but let me say it again, so you will truly hear: Your spiritual intentionality will from this point forward be determining your life! And all your choices! Either consciously or unconsciously. This is the way of a spiritual aspirant and the nature of this path. Once the commitment is sound, there is no turning back: Your personality will be purified, and your life will be transformed.

6. We resolve the mystery of death/rebirth. As our inner work begins to unfold and we start to heal, we gain insights into how we actually grow and evolve. We see that when we are on a path of direct experience, we do not grow by becoming better every day; we grow through cycles of symbolic death/rebirth events in the subjective life. And we learn there are predictable stages to how we move through time and into higher dimensions. At times, we’ll be preconscious, involved in a “participation mystique”–meaning we aren’t even aware that we are transforming; we feel peaceful and all is well. Nothing needs to be questioned.

Then we enter a stage where we may feel depressed or stuck. And we’ll feel hopeless, maybe even despairing, and our dream begins to die. We think at first that something is wrong with us, that we’ve perhaps done it all wrong. A process is urging us forward, but we’ve dug in our heels and won’t budge; we don’t trust it anymore. We may sleep a lot, or act out in ways to distract ourselves. But we still get nowhere; we go down instead of up. Others seem to be getting ahead of us, and we feel we are losing our life. How did this happen, we ask? Things had seemed to be going fine, when suddenly the picture changed. Not only do we feel we are dying inside, our outer life may become a mirrored reflection of death; we may begin to lose what we love the mostÑour friends, livelihood, possessions, even a sense of ourselves.

This is the stage of the birth process we all hate the most: metaphorically, it is when the mother’s body has started labor, but the fetus doesn’t feel prepared, and certainly doesn’t know what to do about it. The actual process of “pushing through” is still premature. In this stage, we are building force for what is to come next, and it is indeed an uncomfortable stage in any transformation process.

Then, the pangs of birth get so strong we get angry! The process is relentless and our rage accelerates. This rage is the greatest gift! It is this impetus, in fact, that pushes us on through the metaphoric birth canal and unblocks us. The energy we have at this stage of our process is superhuman; we are capable of bursting through all types of resistance. We are coming through into a new dimension of consciousness, breaking out of our cocoon. This part of the process is charged with the energies of transformation, and is often chaotic. There is no other way to get born; we must surrender to the process.

7. We learn to live within the tension of the opposites. Now that we are becoming more familiar with the terrain of Self-knowledge and transformation, we see that our personality’s desires and outer situations are always going to shift around, and much of it is truly beyond our control. We live in a world that is imbalanced. Instability rules us in every area of our lives, and as our moods go up and down, our minds are not always clear and decisive. We sometimes churn every which way in the watery world of feelings.

Instead of getting bent out of shape about this unpredictable state of affairs, giving ourselves self-talk of hopelessness and despair, we can begin watching ourselves more precisely. Our observer self comes to the foreground as a major player in our transformation. We realize that we do indeed live amid the tension of the warring opposites. They are all around us and within us as well. So how do we work with this? The mystery unfolds: We see that when we’re too low, instead of waiting for the other shoe drop, we can shift our focus to the positive side of the polarity and practice doing what will bring about our dream. Through disciplining our minds and focusing on projects that excite us, we don’t give the negative side a chance to overwhelm us anymore.

When we feel too high or outrageously positive, we’ll start to notice that we are falling into a state of inauthenticity. Our aggravations, doubts, and irritations are being repressed to the point that we can become depressed. Panic can even set in. So we let some of the negativity out in safe ways–perhaps even in private ways–that do no harm to another. We balance by taking a short inventory of what we feel and of what we may be denying. The key is to stay in the middle and hold the tension of both sides at once in balance!

We learn to sit in the middle of the seesaw, balancing out the extremes. From the center we can wield the power of the Self, who is above it all and doesn’t need to fear for its life; the Self is eternal. Our task is to let the extremes come and go, while we refuse to buy into the forces of either side, never for a moment forgetting who we are.

8. We recognize our fellow travelers. Along this path of the heart we meet many soul brothers and sisters. There is an instant recognition when one comes along. Instead of isolating and protecting our egoistic stances (as we used to do), we begin to share our real feelings, discoveries, and new quest with others who are truly interested. We provide each other with context and validation for our new and expanding reallies.

These new friends don’t have to be with us geographically all the time; they are with us even when we are miles apart. These are true relatives; we are connected through the heart. Even though we may never all meet each other face to face, our work is cumulative. We may begin to network, team up on projects that excite us, love and support one another, and help uphold the fragile new worldview that is appearing on the horizon of our minds. We see that we are a group soul, with a higher purpose than our mere personal lives. As we expand, our world expands. The greatest blessing of all: Now we know for certain that we are never alone.

9. We awaken to our life’s work and soul’s expression. This happens spontaneously through opportunities that open to us. Joseph Campbell said he’d noticed that when people “follow their bliss,” doors open. This is true! We never have to think too much about how we are going to serve in this world. It’s as though the world comes to us and asks us to become involved through the specific avenues for which we’re already cut out. We’ve been preparing all our lives for our life’s mission; we’ve just not realized this. Your life’s
work will always be in the areas where you are comfortable, talented, fascinated, and feel the most at home.

If you are saying, But I haven’t found my way yet; my life’s work is still unrevealed, then be patient; have faith and perseverance. You are still in training in some ways you may not recognize. Eventually you will be led through that golden door to your long-awaited dream. Often your greatest advances happen when you least expect them, generated from events that had seemed just ordinary or insignificant at the time.

10. We learn to relax and be ourselves. Even when you feel you are tenuously “hanging in the dangle” between old ways that are dead and new ways that haven’t quite arrived, you can practice being yourself. This will guarantee that you won’t get off the mark again by accepting some job or recreation that isn’t truly for you. Impatience is a hurdle we all have to overcome. Self-doubt and impetuous decisions are two of the enemies we must challenge and tame as we undergo this inward journey. We can practice their complementary qualities, which will, of course, balance them. This will bring a state of bliss and relaxation. This is not a passive state, devoid of feeling. This is living within the intensity of the zero point between two potent forces, holding them at bay while we are both full and empty simultaneously. Fully relaxing is living from the heart. With nothing to hide, and nothing from which to run, we are authentic. There is no urgency to distract us.

11. We express our spiritual gifts and talents in the world of ordinary activities. Expression of our true life’s work and sacred mission expresses our essence. Whatever forms this takes is perfectly okay with your Creator-God. Of this, I am quite certain.

Your life’s work is simply that of “doing your Being”; it does not matter how or where.

12. We continually follow the mystery… We can never know where the Future will lead us. We only know we are willing, and we are not naive! We’ve seen how we sometimes have to die to entire ways of being, to our old identities. As we go along, we trust that this is God’s creative expression. The beautiful thing about following a mystery is that you are always intrigued. Tell me, now, would you ever want it any other way? Not me!

If anyone tells you they know what exactly the future will bring, they are not telling you the truth. What we are about to experience has never been conceived by anyone on this planet. Nor anywhere else. Otherwise, the stories of all the religions of the world have been a lie, and I don’t believe that for a minute! We must be what we want for the future. With faith, and patience, and a lot of perseverance we follow the mystery, until we reach Home. Then, we start out again.

13….until we develop continuity of consciousness. Continuity of consciousness is immortality’s real name. We become conscious of our process, whether that is the process of birthing, living on a certain level of consciousness, or dying.

When I was twenty-nine years old, I was having a miscarriage (my second in a row) and was hospitalized while hemorrhaging dangerously. At one point, in my hospital room, I was aware that I was on the ceiling looking down at my body on the bed. I had lost so much blood, my life was leaving. While on the ceiling, I realized my consciousness had expanded beyond the confines of that poor little weak body lying there on the bed. I had compassion for Jacquie Sue, but I was coolly deciding whether or not to reenter that body. As a “clinical near-deather,” I do not believe in an afterlife; I know the first stages of the afterlife. Our consciousness we experience as “me” never leaves us, no matter what is going on.

When we become conscious of all levels at once, we know we are immortal. We know experientially that there is no beginning and no end. For according to The Gospel of St. Thomas from the Dead Sea Scrolls

when we make the inner and the outer one, and the above as the below…then shall we enter the kingdom.

Now, tell me: Do you recall not ever being? Think about it. I bet you’ve always been. I have.

14. We take responsibility for being planetary citizens and leaders in our specific area of influence. We must pass the final threshold into our ultimate ordeal: that of overcoming all self-doubt. Self-doubt is the antithesis of remembering who we are. It remains with us, until it doesn’t anymore. There is nothing we can do about it but recognize it when we have it. By remaining conscious of the fact that doubt is our greatest barrier to Self-realization, it gradually loses its hold on us.

When you find yourself with feelings of self-doubt or low self-esteem, you can stop. Go within. Center. Turn your attention to the other side of the seesaw. And contemplate what Self-remembering is. Then you can begin to allow a picture to form in your mind’s eye of your completed and ideal Self. Then notice the feelings that come with being this Self. Gradually, now, notice your Self enter you from within and come fully through your personality.

When you become your Self, your sacred hunger will abate. A higher, more integrated “l” now walks along “the middle way,” going about its sacred business of balancing all extremes and spiritualizing the material world. We learn to live in moderation and nonattachment, the message both The Buddha and The Christ brought to the world, to “be in the world and not of it.” A brand new archetype, the Self, will make itself present and visible on the Earth, through you and me.

Human Psychology Takes “The Leap”

The literal meaning of psychology is “the study of the soul.” Therefore, it’s logical now to include our deeper, more spiritual self as legitimate for study. During these nonordinary times in human history (I call them “destiny moves”), nonordinary approaches are necessary to get to the truth of the entirety of the human situation. We have to look wider to see the overview. The emerging schools of psychology are psychospiritual in nature. As we come through the final decade of this millennium, modern psychology is making a U-turn from involving to evolving, from outer to inner focus. In a nutshell, psychology is having to expand because human beings are!

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Written by Jacquelyn Small LCSW

Explore Wellness in 2021