Transpersonal Psychotherapy has the potential to bridge the worlds between East and West, Indigenous and Western world views. There is a vast and quickly spreading movement of Westerners seeking wisdom and guidance from other traditions. There is valuable potential for Transpersonal Psychotherapy to integrate what is missing from Western society; spiritual meaning and connection to others and our world as a whole. When seeking meaning, Westerners can come across pitfalls from exploring non-western traditions. By exploring relationship, mindfulness of body, breath and emotions, and core beliefs based on personal history,Transpersonal Psychotherapy can integrate spiritual experience into daily life and address the pitfalls that create more suffering.
There is a cultural dissonance between collectivist societies and Western individualism. Indigenous and many Eastern traditions are collectivist, and when Westerners go to the teachers of these traditions, their radical individualist and reductionist values are overlooked. This can cause spiritual bypass, as the Western seeker cannot integrate their psychological material into the world views of collectivist cultures. This is why many meditators and people who have peak shamanic experience, find it difficult to re-enter daily life in the Western world.
The result is to bypass; focus on the spiritual experience and trying to reattain it, rather than integrate aspects of ourselves that react to unintegrated parts of ourselves. These can be lazy, defiant or otherwise resistant parts, selfish, full of desire or otherwise clingy parts. The dichotomy set up between spiritual experience and a lack of cultural attunement to the spiritual in the west, can lead to painful disappointment at best, and destructive reaction at worst. Both are a recipe for spiritual bypass, as chasing after peak experience can be a quick fix in this.
The concepts of Soul Retrieval and obtaining personal power found in Shamanic practices could be utilized by the Transpersonal Psychotherapist to introduce Shamanic work to the Western client. Continue reading “Can Psychotherapy Bridge Worlds Between East and West, Spirt and Matter?”