This section of the website explores the value of psychosynthesis as a practical tool that can help people deal with real-world challenges.

Psychosynthesis has been known for many years primarily as a self-development tool and a form of psychotherapy, “a psychology with a soul”. More recently its value in coaching has been recognised. I believe in each of these spheres – self-help, therapy and coaching – the techniques and methods of psychosynthesis can make a difference to people’s lives. Not just at the spiritual and noetic level, but in the hurly-burly of everyday living.

Please send me your thoughts, stories, ideas and opinions on this. What have you most valued about psychosynthesis? When has it come in useful? How does it help you with everyday living? And also in terms of clients, when has psychosynthesis made a real difference at work? How has it helped your individual clients in their daily lives?

I would be delighted to receive any examples you have of “psychosynthesis at work” but please be careful if you write to respect any confidentiality boundaries!

 

A colour photo of Peter Stewart with garden and acer

 

On a Personal Note

I would love to get to the stage where psychosynthesis is accepted more or less as mindfulness is now, as a practical tool that’s available for everyone, that can be used at home or at work, and that’s relevant to dealing with the challenges of the weekly supermarket run as much as finding one’s inner Self on a retreat.

Please note that I say this without irony, and with a real sense of the value of such spiritual work. But I also increasingly feel that the focus on its psycho-spiritual value – psychosynthesis as “a psychology with a soul” – is a put-off for many outside the psychosynthesis community.

(Note: “put-off”: to cause someone to lose interest or enthusiasm).

Everyone who knew Assagioli speaks of his kindness and wisdom. I should emphasise that I never met him: I was 15 years old when he died in 1974. But when I hear from people who knew him or met him when he was alive, and from those who have visited Casa Assagioli, I have a picture in my mind of a beatific being, maybe even a kind of saint. The online photos of him typically show a wise and benevolent human being, often with stardust glinting in his eyes, a true visionary.

I have no desire to explode or undermine this image of the Wise Master, but personally, it does little to engage me with what I believe is the practical value of psychosynthesis.

Reading the Act of Will and Psychosynthesis, I admired Assagioli’s deep knowledge of the reality of the human condition and his immense insight into what drives and fulfils people.

He knew the giants of 20th century psychotherapy , including Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung, and worked for most of his life as a practicing therapist. Although his spiritual writings are also well known, and his biographers – most recently Petra Guggisberg Nocelli – draw attention to his extensive reading and his deep knowledge of eastern philosophies, the core of what he did was help people deal with real life.

 

I also believe that any association of psychosynthesis with the arcane or esoteric creates a barrier to its value as a practical tool to help people deal with the realities of daily life, and to improve the world. At worst, it can create the impression of a cult.

This is something that dogged psychosynthesis in the years after Assagioli’s death, however unjustly. It’s ironic that happened, because Assagioli warned repeatedly against the risks of psycho-spiritual “inflation” and recognised in a down to earth way that people were affected by everyday challenges. We are clay as much as stardust.

Most people involved in psychosynthesis, and certainly those with extensive training, recognise the pitfalls of “inflation” and the need for grounding. The metaphor of the lotus, with its petals open to the sunlight but with its roots deep in the mud, is often invoked to emphasise that spiritual growth depends on solid foundations.

But we should also not lose sight of the need to explain ourselves as a community in a way that makes sense to those outside the community. That means using simple, direct and clear language, and as far as possible avoiding terminology and jargon that are understood only by initiates.

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