A Return to Self

“Jung encouraged his patients to set aside part of the day for what came to be known as ‘active imagination’. This is a state of reverie, in which judgment is suspended, but consciousness is preserved. The subject is required to note what phantasies occur to him, and then to let these phantasies pursue their own path without conscious intervention. In this way, the subject may be able to rediscover hidden parts of himself as well as portray the psychological journey on which he is embarking.

Jung’s self-analysis convinced him that, whereas the young individual’s task was primarily to emancipate himself from his original family, establish himself in the world, and find a new family in his turn, the middle-aged individual’s task was to discover and express his own uniqueness as an individual….Men became neurotic at the mid-point of life because, in some sense, they had been false to themselves, and had strayed too far from the path which Nature intended them to follow.

By scrupulous attention to the inner voice of the psyche, which manifested itself in dreams, phantasies, and other derivatives of the unconscious, the lost soul could rediscover its proper path, as Jung himself succeeded in doing. ”
– Anthony Storr, Solitude, A Return To The Self

How much time do you give to listening to your psyche?

If you’re like most of the western world, you likely don’t give very much. It’s not popular to slow down and listen to our psyches… I mean, what does that even mean? We’re not taught or shown much about this inner world we have within us. More commonly, we’re diverted and distracted with a myriad of shiny, glittery things and images that we’re told will make us happier.

It’s also not a given that following this inward path will make us richer, more secure, or more well-liked. Who knows? It might even make us less secure, more edgy and more dangerous!

So why even bother?

One [big] reason is that this path holds the key to our unique expression, our very original way of being in the world… rather than the cookie-cutter version of ourselves that our society has shaped us to be.

Because most of us were taught early on to fit in and follow the rules, it’s sometimes hard to even notice that there is this little trail off into the woods, behind the big house of ourselves…

But the trail is there.

What might be roiling around in you now, unnoticed?

What images, sounds, symbols, visions may be trying to get your attention?

What if you slowed down long enough to find out?


It might not make you rich … but the inward path holds treasures beyond compare.

Photo by Will Langenberg

Photo by Will Langenberg



2 thoughts on “A Return to Self

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