Robert Romanyshyn sees Jungian Psychology and Phenomenology as a new form of education through which we can experience a soulful life. Jungian Psychology as a return to new beginnings to live in the world as if seeing it for the first time. To return to things themselves in a way that recovers the vital spirit of the world; its poetic presence.
This new form of education is a form of homecoming – coming home to ourselves. We cannot be at home in the world without being at home in ourselves. We cannot be at home in ourselves without being at home in the world.
According to Robert our task to live a soulful life is to be in service to the link between imagining a possibility by re-membering the past of the living and re-membering the past by imagining a future.
Robert also sees Jungian Psychology as breath work. He gives us a practical exercise in alchemical breathing to be soulfully in the world: When something beautiful (not necessarily pretty) stops you in your tracks, your natural sudden inhalation is followed by a pause and then by an exhalation. It is in the pause that the alchemy happens. After exhalation, you can go back into the pause and ask yourself what is it that arrested you, what memory did it bring up? Although somewhat different, alchemical breathing gives us a practical way to apply Victor Frankl’s popular quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
A golden thread running through his teaching is that of wonderment. Of seeing, as if for the first time, the miracle in the mundane. Of being in a love affair with the world. Amongst others, he uses trees to illustrate how something as simple as sunlight filtering through branches and leaves, or being absolutely quiet to hear the whispering of trees, can be an impetus to being soulfully in the world.
Robert describes three characteristics of a soulful life:
- Anamnesis means unforgetting. It’s re-membering what’s been forgotten. It’s going to the margins where what’s been forgotten can be re-membered. It’s a confrontation with what we would otherwise not want to know. It’s staying in the alchemical pause for a while, being quiet and feeling aesthetic presence.
- Cultivate a metaphoric sensibility. Robert says: “The measure of our misery is that we no longer expect to see miracles.” This new form of education moves beyond empirical knowledge through direct experience as a way of knowing to help us become what we know. It helps us open up to psyche and nature as one. It gives us a new way of being in the world. It returns mind to body and its erotic ties with nature for living a soulful life within the cultural historical worlds we create and which we take for granted. Our task is to pause and reflect on the symbols and metaphors that are our daily gifts.
- Recognising the fiction in the fact. It’s seeing reality under the spell of imagination without reducing reality. It’s looking at the world as an interpenetration of all different presences.
In a series of 4 classes, learn how Robert Romanyshyn’s imaginal approach to dreamwork draws on the traditions of Jung’s psychology and existential-phenomenology. Enhance the capacity of the imagination as a legitimate and valuable way of knowing and being: enroll here!
This article is based on Robert’s session ‘Encounters with the World Soul’ (part of the Jungian Psychology for a Soulful Life Summit.)
Aretha du Rand
Aretha du Rand has spent most of her professional life working as a management consultant and project manager in one of the big four global professional services firms.More Posts by Aretha du Rand