By Carol Jacobs
At this time in my life, I'm feeling called to pay attention at a deeper level to “coming home to myself.” Coming home to oneself involves a consenting to be vulnerable, to be curious, to call forth the courage to risk exploration of the still unknown parts of ourselves. Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst and author as well as my mentor and teacher, once said that she sometimes reflects on her life as a necklace of pearls with each pearl being a nodal point of a significant happening in her life that brought her into a deeper clarity of how to be in relationship with her body and soul, and with the sacredness of life.
In our retreats and teachings with her, we often heard the words, “surrender” and "sacrifice.” These compelling words can elicit thoughts of resistance as well as visceral responses in our bodies. It can be human nature NOT to want to surrender, and we feel challenged by the word "sacrifice." Surrender requires a softening, a letting go, a releasing of our psychological armoring. From a Jungian perspective, it suggests allowing ourselves to have a connection and dialogue between our conscious and our unconscious; between our ego and our Self. Sacrifice asks for letting go of the old impediments that keep us stuck in old patterns like fear and anxiety - those parts of ourselves that interfere with moving into more wholeness in our lives. The pearls come into being as gifts of wisdom. We surrender to the exploration of the unknown through tending to our dreams, through active imagination, through body movement, through voice, through art expression, and through journaling. In the service of surrender, we sacrifice our fear and consent to being vulnerable. We take the risk of trusting that we can hold the material that comes forth to greet us -- what Jung calls the shadow.
I had a dream in which I was given this directive: “Let the music play you.” On first glance the message was clear and easy. As a pianist I understand about letting the music “play me," -- it requires that my technique be well-practiced. It requires that I have knowledge of the composer and her or his style. It requires exploration of my own interpretation of how I want to express my own soul through a particular piece of music.
As I tended to the dream, I came to understand that there was another layer required: “Let life play you.” This I saw as a calling to enter more deeply into myself -- into a “coming home to my Self.” Marion identifies the Self as “the ordering center of the personality that presents the ego with the challenge to move to a new level of consciousness.” It’s what Jung called “individuation." As I think and write about what it means to “come home to my Self” and ponder what is required of me, it raises two questions: “Who am I”? and ”Why am I here?” Collectively, it becomes: “Who are we?” and “Why are we here in this universe, in the cosmos?” These are compelling questions that challenge us both spiritually and psychologically.
So I ask myself, how am I to respond to this one precious life that has been gifted to me? I carry in my heart Marion’s teachings and my soul’s discernment. She used to tell us that if we didn’t spend at least an hour a day with our inner world, we were abandoning our souls. She saw this as a minimum requirement for preparing oneself to be present in her daily life. It is from this ritual that we can learn to let go of trying to “understand” the mystery of life. We can rather allow for an unfolding, and from that unfolding come to know ourselves more deeply. From that deeper knowing, we come home to ourselves to know and accept our place in the world.
Carol Jacobs, MSW, LCSW, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist, presenter for the Marion Woodman Foundation, workshop leader, and faculty member of Chrysalis Institute and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. With more than 30 years of counseling experience and training, Carol runs a private practice in Richmond, Virginia.