Psychological projection and symbolic understanding

the practical study of psychology and symbolism

Energy healers who work with clients often have a blend of disciplines and skills to draw from, in order to help their clients not only heal the physical body but also help repair emotional trauma from the past, in addition to addressing relational challenges in the present. This broad mandate requires the healer to examine themselves psychologically as a part of their on-going training and skills acquisition. Because many energy healing skills are a transmission of life force or prana (from healer to client) it follows that this prana would be affected by the quality of consciousness of the healer herself, as well as that of the client. From the healer’s side, their ability to process this personal consciousness can be helped tremendously by the study of two disciplines: psychotherapy, and the knowledge of esoteric symbolism.

Psychotherapy has much to offer energy healers, especially in terms of a rich language of personal development, along with understandings of interpersonal psychodynamics. Most people are aware that common terms such as “ego” are psychological concepts, originated by Sigmund Freud. Other familiar terms, such as “collective unconsciousness”, are taken from Carl Jung’s initial work. Each of these psychological systems stress the importance of non-conscious structures in the human experience, those that often hide both our interpretation of our daily reality as well as our moment-to-moment perception. These non-conscious dynamics are the way that the human brain projects hidden aspects of itself out into the world, and onto others. And no one is immune to how this happens. In energy healing circles, this is often simply called “projection”.

There are two sides to our human brain’s projection mechanism. The first could be labelled as a golden or narcissistic projection: one where we ascribe extremely positive (or even divine) qualities onto another. This projection is usually childlike and simplistic but at the same time it is emotionally very powerful. Psychotherapists see it as a positive transference, albeit one that will probably wear off, like a spell. But while the projection remains in place, an individual will refuse or deny anything that conflicts with this, their unconscious positive projections onto another.

A second form of projection is a negative or shadow projection. With this variant we find our hidden fears or insecurities are magnified large, and then layered over another person, or even an entire culture. As with golden (or narcissistic) projection, we do not see the real, three-dimensional person in front of us. What we see is someone holding, unknown to us, our shadow fears, or our infant-level primal anger. At a cultural level we usually refer to this as bigotry. At the individual level, it is whenever we see another in the worse possible light, when we magnify their small human failings into ways we can may even no longer see them as fully human. Where we deny seeing the other as even worthy of love, of human compassion, or of intrinsic value.

Much psychotherapeutic work can be done to both clarify these projection mechanisms we use onto others. It can also be used to uncover the hidden parts of ourselves – our fears, our longings, and so on – so as to come to terms with our own humanity. For the energy healer, who is not charged with being a psychotherapist for their client, knowledge of this projection mechanism is nonetheless a vital one to understand. Unless we see how either the client (or ourselves) are unconsciously projecting their inner issues out into the world we will be limited in being helpful to that client. We may even find ourselves joining with the client in their projected world view, reinforcing the psychic energies the client is trying to resolve. But if we are aware of these mechanisms of psychic and emotional projection we can learn to strike some kind of energetic balance that will likely help the client heal faster than if we had colluded with them. If we learn to compassionately see their golden projections as only developmental narcissistic longings (to become like the one they adore, or admire) or see their anger and hatred projections outwards as mostly hidden emotional energies (fear, and infant selfishness), then our energy work can more easily help restore balance for the client.

In this same manner, if the energy healer understands both the symbolic workings of the human mind as well as some of the common symbolic associations found in human history, such knowledge can help us tap into the hidden forces wanting to reveal themselves to the client. This, of course, is the underpinnings of Carl Jung’s dream interpretation, as well as the Shamanic approach of interacting with symbolic reality in nature. Recognizing symbols and symbolic occurrences can be helpful to the energy healer who also concerns herself with channeling prana towards her client. Reiki practioners may recognize this as the underpinnings of their work’s skill set, but other energy healers may also utilize religious or spiritual symbols as a natural way to channel powerful energies of support for their clients. A Christian healer may connect to the symbols of Christ consciousness, for instance, or a Buddhist healer may tap into one of the many Bodhisattvas, such as the Medicine Buddha, in order to help a specific client with a specific issue.

Each of these domains – psychotherapy and the study of symbolism – take long-term study, as well as the assistance of others in unpacking the many layers of meaning so as to find the practical application of that meaning. In the modern world are lucky to have multiple variations on psychology and psychotherapy to explore, and to draw upon. The study of symbology, however, is more of a difficult venture, as it is hidden within so-called Occult studies, such as Western Magical Traditions, and the esoteric branches of mainstream religions. But look, and you will often find, the sources and support to open yourself up to symbolic reality, and to its practical use in transformational energy healing work.

© 2016 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.

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