People come to a mental health professional because of a presenting complaint, like anxiety, depression, or a relationship problem. For many, after that presenting problem is resolved, they are happy to go on their way. There are some, however, who want more. They have become intrigued with the fact that there is an active unconscious, an inner world, and they sense that their life could be more meaningful. These are usually the personality types who are natural seekers who have a strong drive to ask existential questions and seek life’s deeper mysteries. They usually have sought answers through books and they may have attended some type of experiential group. Unfortunately, some of these people, seeking an altered state of consciousness, end up in alcohol or drug abuse, dead ends for sure.
Seeking Personal Growth and a deeper personal and life understanding is certainly a rewarding and worthwhile effort. Because Personal Growth involves delving into the personal unconscious and the Collective Unconscious, it is difficult to do without a guide. Like any journey, one must prepare themselves. They must learn to Meditate and only certain types of meditation will do. They must learn to Heart Center, for the guardians of the unconscious, their defense mechanisms will not let them in unless they are willing and able to accept what they find. They must set aside time on a regular basis, preferably daily, to do their inner work. They must develop an attitude of self-reflection, curiosity, and learn to foster and be open to the mystery of guidance from beyond our ordinary ego. They must become familiar with the dream world, one of the best sources of information regarding the current state of the unconscious. Working with dreams requires a guide because our defenses make it difficult to see the issues hidden within the complex patterns of a dream. Of course, learning how to optimize one’s physical health provides the type of foundation that makes this inner work more fruitful.
Again, this journey to self discovery is not something everyone is drawn to do, and that is OK. For those of you who are, pursuing this quest in one fashion or another is almost essential. Once you get involved in the process, it becomes very interesting and even compelling, for there is no book or movie or TV show as interesting and as important as your personal journey.
Dr. Tatum studied for over ten years with W. Brugh Joy, MD, a noted spiritual and transpersonal teacher. He attended and later was on staff at the Nine Gates Mystery School and has done training in Vipassana meditation. He developed Chakra Based Meditation and Psychotherapy, wrote a book chapter on that, and has been on Transpersonal Panels, has lectured, and done workshops on his method at the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis national meetings.