A PSYCHOLOGY OF TRANSFORMATION
A PSYCHOLOGY OF TRANSFORMATION
PRESENTED TO THE CAPITOL AREA NETWORK FOR ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE
WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 16, 1989
As counselors and consultants, we are challenged to help individuals and groups increase their personal productivity, job satisfaction, and organizational effectiveness. In order to do this, we endeavor to understand many things about our clients including, but not limited to, their needs, goals, cultures, language, time lines, constraints, strengths, weaknesses, services and resources. We attempt to understand and then model their infinitely complex realities in simple but compelling ways. We must show them where the forces converge so that our clients can see, accept, and embrace the truth and then, through appropriate goal-directed action, realize their visions and goals.
Individuals and organizations must make a serious and increasingly deep commitment to the ongoing development of human resources to realize their full potential. In this paper, we will consider some fundamental truths about the nature of reality and correlate this with the process of transforming consciousness. I will blend a simple view of quantum physics with an understanding of the process of transforming consciousness drawn from discussions with an Astronomer 1, current literature on physics 2, models of consciousness from a discipline called Psychosynthesis 3, 4 and the field of Transpersonal Psychology 5, 6, 7, and my own seventeen years experience as a counselor and human resources consultant. At the end of the paper, I will outline an eleven step process for exploring and expanding consciousness I have developed called Creative Explorations of Inner Space (CEIS).
THE ATOM AND ITS NUCLEUS
Let us begin with a description of the atom, the fundamental building block of the universe. An atom consists of a vast region of 'empty' space in which extremely small negatively charged particles, the electrons, move around a center or core, the nucleus.
Let's use imagery to picture this. If an atom were the size of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, the nucleus would be the size of a grain of salt in the middle of it, and the electrons would be like tiny specks of dust whirling around that grain of salt in the vast space of the dome. For every positively charged proton within the nucleus, there is a corresponding negatively charged electron in the outer shield. Along with protons which are 1800 times heavier than electrons, in the nucleus there are neutrons and many other subatomic particles. By virtue of its density and other forces, the nucleus has enormous attractive power which holds the electrons in their orbits. The nuclear and electron structures form the skeleton for all the elements.
The whole periodic table of elements can be built up by successively adding protons and neutrons to the nucleus of the lightest atom--hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most simple atom, and contains one proton and one electron. Helium is an element which consists of two protons and two electrons. Sodium is composed of eleven protons and eleven electrons. Electrons occupy zones in space, or shells, around the nucleus, which are not precise but are, rather, locations of high probability. The nucleus determines the structure of the electron shields, and these shields define the chemical properties of elements.
THE PERSONALITY AND THE SELF
Psychologically speaking, each of us behaves like an atom in many ways. This shouldn't be that surprising, given the fact that we are each an expression of the natural law. Like the electron cloud which surrounds the nucleus, we each have a personality of one sort or another, a unique set of patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving by which we are known and with which we interact in the world.
But there is a center or core to each of us which gives form to the personality just as does the nucleus of an atom. Throughout time, the center of the personality has been called many things. Webster says it is the "psyche" which governs the total organism and its interactions with the environment. This center was called the inner daimon by the Greeks and was worshipped as the "genius" within by the Romans 8. Jung described the center as the Self, a hypothetical point between the conscious and the unconscious mind 9.
The roots of our personality patterns originate in the deepest levels of the unconscious, in the core of us. Our primary programs get reflected out in many different ways in daily living, just as the electron shields are reflections of the internal reality of the nucleus. Our actions are a function of, and flow from, the center of our selves.
Just as it is difficult to see into or interact with the nucleus of an atom, it is difficult to see into or interact with the core of one's self. But many people have experienced this center, psyche, or self in an immediate or direct way, and report the experience to be quite profound. It is almost always described in religious or mystical language, and is most frequently the result of deep trance, meditational states, ecstatic experiences and the like. James, Underhill, Ouspensky, and Bucke have collected first hand accounts about contact with this essential center of awareness 10. In general, the experience is characterized by a sense of freedom, expansion, communion with reality, true individuality and, at the same time, a sense of universality 11.
HOW ELECTRONS OPERATE
Though a bit technical, let's consider how electrons operate, then use this understanding to consider how our personalities operate, hoping through this to discover how we might become more productive, develop our latent human potential, and achieve higher levels of output and functioning in life.
The fundamental truth about electrons is that they have very discreet, exact, and dependable states of energy. The pattern of the electron shield remains constant, determined by the inner nature of the nucleus. This is what keeps the electron shields, and thus the elements, constant--hydrogen remains hydrogen, sodium remains sodium, etc.--in a stable or ground state.
Electrons can, however, behave as either waves or particles, depending on their distance from the nucleus. The further away from the nucleus is the electron, the lower is the energy it possesses, and the more particle-like it is. The closer an electron is to the nucleus, the more it behaves as a wave, the more complex is the electron shield, the stronger is its energy, and the harder it is to effect.
HOW PERSONALITIES OPERATE
The personality represents our outer patterns (shields) of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Our personalities are very discreet, exact, and dependable, too, held steady by the reality of the inner self. We remain in a steady or ground state unless acted upon by powerful energies or experience. That is why I am who I am, and you are who you are all of the time. But like electrons, we do react to external forces.
The outer, less meaningful, 'particular' roles we play can be changed without too much trouble. We can learn to perform many tasks, playa many roles, and have many superficial interactions that require little energy or change from us, and still we retain our basic identity. We can interact in many different ways and remain a constant presence in the world. But as we move closer to our core beliefs, values, or sense of identity--and particularly if these are activated or threatened in any way--to an increasingly strong degree we hold to our position and resist change.
THE QUANTUM LEAP
A photon is a unit of light energy which also has both a particle and wave-like nature, and each particle of light is called a "quanta". Quantum mechanics describes how light quanta operate, and the study of the properties of light is called quantum physics.
The frequency or kind of light energy that hits an atom and its electron shields determines to what degree that element will interact with or react to the environment around it. Lower levels of light only effect the outer electron shields. Higher frequencies of light penetrate more deeply into the electron shields and effect the deeper structures. Light varies in intensity. Long wavelengths of light have low frequency and less power than shorter wavelengths of light with higher frequency and more power. The progression from low to higher power goes like this: infrared, visible light, ultra violet, x-ray, gamma ray.
A quanta of light can kick an electron to a higher orbit away from the nucleus for a brief instant but, when the electron returns to its original orbit, it emits a quanta of energy equal to that which originally hit it. This represents the quantum transition or the so-called "quantum leap". But the energy which strikes it must be absolutely precise, at the same frequency of the electron, to affect it, and it takes more energy to make an electron leap depending on its closeness to the nucleus. But the return of the electron to its original position or ground state is virtually instantaneous. Electrons don't remain unstable very long. The quantum leap basically describes a process in which an electron enters a temporarily excited state and then returns to it normal level of functioning, giving off a burst of energy equal to that which hit it.
EFFECTING TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE ATOM: FISSION-VS-FUSION
It is interesting to note that, although light of various frequencies and intensities can impact and effect the electron shields of an atom, can create quantum leaps, transitions and outputs, and get the atom or element to "work", so to speak, these shifts are not permanent because they do not change the fundamental reality of the nucleus.
When we want to change an atom from one element to another, we don't mess with the electrons, we irradiate the nucleus itself with powerful forces. Getting inside and changing the nature of the nucleus requires hundreds of times more energy than is required to affect the electrons. It is a most difficult task, many orders of magnitude harder to accomplish. Two processes create fundamental transformations at the nuclear level: fission and fusion.
Fission takes place through the irradiation of the nucleus with a neutron. Fission, however, represents the total destruction of the nucleus. It breaks apart into two equal pieces and releases another neutron in the process. The newly released neutron smashes into and destroys another nucleus, on and on, causing a chain reaction. This is how an atomic bomb is detonated.
We could say that fusion, on the other hand, is a constructive process. Through the effect of intense pressure and heat, two lighter nuclei fuse together to make a heavier and more powerful one. Fusion also results in the release of powerful energy, however, gamma rays and other subatomic particles. Gamma rays penetrate nuclei but do not destroy them. They transmute protons and neutrons within the nucleus thereby transforming the element fundamentally without the shattering destruction of fission. This is how the sun operates internally.
NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE TRANSFORMATIONS OF SELF
The concept of transformation implies a complete change of being or internal reality with its concomitant change in the outer form or outer expression. Personal transformation occurs when experiences penetrate through the shields of our personalities, impact us at a fundamental level, and touch or change us at the core. It is obvious that something very powerful must happen for transformation to take place. But experiences of great magnitude can be either destructive or constructive depending on what they are, and can create fission or fusion type changes.
In the negative, destructive, fission sense, forces of life can smash or shatter our personalities and blow our identities apart--rape, incest, emotional or psychological abuse, war, disease, divorce, death, unwanted moves, to name a few. Such powerfully negative life experiences wound us deeply. If we are unable to deal with them effectively, they get embedded in the unconscious and become as protons in the nucleus. They have extreme weight and power when left unhealed or unintegrated and become the reason for or source of negative personality patterns, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc., just as protons in the nucleus determine the nature of the outer electron shields of atoms.
There are also correlates to these forces in the workplace if we would but stop and consider them for a moment: abusive management practices, sexual harassment, discrimination, nepotism, down sizing, layoffs, reductions in force, firings, bankruptcy, unrelieved and persistent stress, to name a few. These kinds of events can have tremendously destructive effects on individuals and on groups.
A good way to picture the process of fission is to imagine trying to get at the nut within a walnut. If we try a fission approach, we would take a hammer, smash the walnut open, pick out the nut fragments from the shell fragments and eat them.
It is very difficult to get into the inner self to resolve the inner consequences of negative or destructive life experience, as it is difficult to get into the nucleus of an atom. Counselors and consultants have a very grave responsibility to discover caring and careful ways to reach into the inner core of individuals and groups and transform their inner structures.
If we could find a way to facilitate positive transformations, through a process akin to fusion, we could help individuals and organizations make the leap to permanently higher modes of operating. But, as Virgil said in The Aeneid, "hoc opus, hic labor est": this is the work, this the labor. We must find ways to help individuals and groups awaken new levels of awareness, resolve the internal causes of stress, discover and clarify essential values, create new goals through which to manifest their values in the world, and redirect their life energies toward higher and more fulfilling purposes.
How do we reach for, experience, or facilitate the process of positive transformation in our personal or organizational lives? How can we create a state of readiness which allows us to be touched by wonder, develop our latent resources, and let the energies of inspiration move powerfully through us? How can we move closer to a primal sense of the unity which underlies all creation and, for our efforts, be regenerated and renewed at the deepest levels?
A good way to imagine the process of fusion, using the walnut analogy, is to imagine planting it in the ground, surrounding it with supportive soil, with warmth and water, and letting these elements combine with its nuclear potential to sprout into a whole new walnut tree which, one day, loaded with bushels of walnuts, we can eat or share with others.
Positive and permanent transformation requires the heat, pressure, and fusing energies of love: love of self, love of other, love for one's sense of life purpose, love for the organizations for which we work. Positive and permanent transformation requires a willingness to face unresolved pain, to heal inner wounds, a desire to discover and develop ever more fulfilling personal and organizational identities, and a commitment to share one's finest talents and abilities with others in the world. Positive transformation requires an ongoing effort to understand more deeply, to communicate more authentically, and cooperate more full while, at the same time, struggling to produce valued products or deliver valued services in a timely and profitable way. Only through such a process can we gradually develop our latent human resources and raise ever gradually toward the incredible, unimagined levels of functioning, excellence, and success that is our personal, organizational, and spiritual birthright.
DEVELOPING HUMAN RESOURCES AND THE LEAP TO PEAK PERFORMANCE
Now we come to the central point of this paper. In order to help people raise their levels of energy, develop their deeper human resources, and leap to higher levels of productivity, counselors and consultants need to learn how to use with their clients a wide range of methods and techniques to penetrate ever more deeply through the personality shells, to connect with, effect, and help release powerful energies ever closer to the core. And these methods and techniques must be employed over and over again to sustain peak performance since the natural tendency, with atoms, individuals, and groups, upon emitting an unusual quanta of energy, is to return to the normal or ground state.
Just as it takes more intense frequencies of light to penetrate the electron shield and make an atom work, it takes an array of ever deepening techniques to make a personality work. Beginning with gentle methods, and employing ever increasing discipline, focus, energy and power, we explore our inner space and develop our full potential. I have developed a process called Creative Explorations of Inner Space (CEIS) which moves in ever increasing depth and power into the human psyche. Techniques employed in this process include deep relaxation, reflective and receptive thinking, journal writing, visualization, symbolic art, cognitive analysis, inner dialogue, symbolic identification, integration, and the development of action plans.
As these techniques are employed, as we penetrate into and explore ever more deeply our inner selves, latent human resources can be activated and developed, including mental clarity, focus, concentration, insight, wisdom, imagination, inspiration, the capacity for pattern recognition and creative self-expression, understanding, reason, intuition, empathy, commitment and motivation. The result of such an evolving development is personal and organizational excellence and self-actualization.
To effect such positive, loving, and permanent transformations in our clients, and in ourselves, is the great challenge which confronts us all.
- Grateful acknowledgment is made to Dr. Michael Rich, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University, for his many hours of conversation about quantum physics, in preparation of this working paper.
- Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, (Berkeley: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1975).
- Roberto Assagioli, Psychosynthesis (New York: The Viking Press, 1965).
- Pierre Ferrucci, What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth (Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1982).
- Charles Tart, Transpersonal Psychologies (New York: Harper and Row, 1975).
- Wilber, K, Engler, J, & Brown, D, Transformations of Consciousness (Berkeley: Shambhala, 1987).
- Stan Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1976).
- M.L. von Franz, "The Process of Individuation", Man and His Symbols, ed. C.G. Jung (New York: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1972), p. 161.
- C.G. Jung, Psyche & Symbol, ed. Violet de Laszlo (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1958), p. 340.
- Assagioli, Psychosynthesis, p. 19.
- Ibid, p. 87.