THE INSTITUTE OF TRANSPERSONAL AND ARCHETYPAL STUDIES

 

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History and Mission

 

ITAS was founded in 2015–16 by a group of eminent clinical practitioners, scholars, and transpersonal psychotherapists united by a common focus on promoting a greater understanding of psychological transformation through an exploration of the deeper dynamics of the human psyche.

 

The mission of ITAS is to provide a range of educational activities and settings for self-exploration directed towards people interested in the transformative possibilities of working with non-ordinary states of consciousness, spiritual or mystical experiences, archetypal astrology, dreams, synchronicities, and the myriad other ways transpersonal experiences and archetypal principles reach into our lives. ITAS is grounded in the recognition of the reality of a universal consciousness or deeper ordering principle and inner authority offering a source of life meaning, guidance, and psychological healing. ITAS seeks to support individuals as they learn to navigate the terrain “beyond the individual ego” and move through the transformative process with awareness, authenticity, and an open heart.

 

 

 

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Education for Transformation

 

 

Values

 

A primary value of the ITAS community is respect for the integrity and autonomy of each individual’s process of transformation. Honoring the “inner healer” or the Self of each individual emerges from reverence for the potentiating force emerging through the deep psyche as having greater wisdom than any human expert. or therapeutic perspective. More than any particular techniques or theoretical frameworks, ITAS values the creation of safe set and setting for emergence of the creative potential of each person’s contact with transpersonal experiences, transformative processes, and archetypal principles and energies.

 

ITAS values whole person and experiential learning, incorporating mind, body, emotions, soul, spirit, community, and creative potential.  While conceptualization is often essential for developing meaning and following our path, ITAS also values experiences of the emotions and body even if they cannot be fully understood intellectually.

 

       

 

There are many systems helping us to frame and understand encounters with the transpersonal dimension of the psyche, and to follow our own path of transformation, including Jungian, Grofian, astrological, shamanic, alchemical, and mythological. Through workshops and online courses, ITAS provides the opportunity to explore various conceptions of the psychospiritual journey with the understanding that each person will find the appropriate path at the appropriate time for guidance in the unfolding of his or her own unique life.

 

Our mission includes providing opportunities in many ITAS workshops for experience of non-ordinary states of consciousness inviting the healing, heuristic, and transformative potential of the deep psyche, including but not limited to Holotropic Breathwork. ITAS also holds the mission to provide conceptual support and context for sharing by participants engaged in exploring non-ordinary states on their own, including experience with plant medicines and psychedelics. Please note: ITAS does not offer non-ordinary state experience through substances not lawful for use in the jurisdiction of our workshops.

 

 

 

ITAS values honesty about the potential perils and pitfalls of authentic inner work and “spiritual paths.” Recognizing that an influx of archetypal energies can be overwhelming and destabilizing, ITAS values willingness to make use of traditional psychotherapy and psychiatry in some instances as the most prudent means for maintaining the safety of individuals.

 

ITAS values the recognition of the possibility of inflation, spiritual bypass, spiritual materialism, and a range of adverse psychological and somatic states in the midst of authentic psychospiritual transformation. ITAS values connection with archetypal and transpersonal energies not merely as life-enhancing experience but as providing precious opportunities for accelerating psychological work and discovering deeper life meaning.

 

In our instructors and facilitators, ITAS values extensive personal experience as well as theoretical knowledge and/or therapeutic training, reflecting the intricacies and challenges of encountering the depths of the psyche, as well as ongoing commitment to self-reflection, self-knowledge, and openness to feedback.

 

                 

 

Ideas and Approaches

 

Transpersonal Psychology refers to a broad spectrum of psychological approaches and perspectives concerned with the exploration and study of what are often described as “spiritual” or “numinous” experiences or “non-ordinary states of consciousness.” Since its inception in the late 1960s, transpersonal psychology has sought to study these kinds of experiences scientifically and empirically, independently of the doctrinal interpretations of any specific religious traditions. The field addresses the human impulse for connection with something beyond (“trans”) personal identity, ordinary states of consciousness, and the exclusively individual sense of self. Transpersonal psychology has also been particularly concerned with personal and social transformation with respect to perception of life, attitude, mood, objectives, and well-being of the individual and the planet. Interested in translating the wisdom and spiritual practices of worldwide cultures, including indigenous traditions, into language and concepts suitable to the modern world, transpersonal approaches typically describe in psychological terms the range of spiritual paths traveled for thousands of years by our ancestors in almost all cultures while acknowledging that the individual’s journey of psychological development and spiritual growth is also unique and not necessarily to be accommodated within any existing system.

 

Within the range of approaches broadly classed as transpersonal, ITAS is especially concerned with the psychologies developed by Carl Gustav Jung and Stanislav Grof. Of particular relevance are the following areas:

 

  The realization of a deeper mode of identity and personhood, which Jung called the Self.

  Navigating experiences of psychological death-rebirth.

  Movement toward a condition of wholeness, termed holotropic by Grof, and described through Jung’s model of  individuation.

  Exploring the place and role of archetypes in our lives, including the experience of “high archetypal penetrance states.”

  The recognition of synchronicities, “meaningful coincidences” and archetypal connections between occurrences in the material world and the inner world.

  The cultivation and realization of higher human potentials.

  Drawing upon manifestations in the body and emotions as assisting psychological development, including during non-ordinary states of consciousness.

  Gaining insights about the nature of reality and the purposes of existence, and finding deeper life meaning.

  The realization of the spiritual or soulful essence of the cosmos.

 

Grofian Perinatal Psychology explores the psychodynamics and phenomenology of rebirth or “ego-death” through the reliving of the biological birth experience in non-ordinary states of consciousness. It is based upon the observation that human experience, both individually and culturally, is unconsciously shaped by the deep memory and imprint of the various stages of the birth experience. The four Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPMs) identified by Grof may be considered archetypal phases particularly important in human experience: BPM I, corresponding to the period in the womb prior to the onset of labor, a sense of oceanic oneness and unity; BPM II, corresponding to the experience of no-exit angst and depression when contractions have begun but the mother’s cervix has not dilated; BPM III, pertaining to the life-or-death struggle as the infant moves through the birth canal; and BPM IV,  pertaining to the release and sense of arrival, completion, accomplishment, and liberation experienced at birth. Grof and cultural historian Richard Tarnas observed the Basic Perinatal Matrices correspond, respectively, to the astrological archetypes associated with the outer planets: Neptune, Saturn, Pluto, and Uranus. 

 

Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful experiential method of self-exploration and transformation developed by Stanislav Grof, and his wife Christina Grof, as an alternative to psychedelic therapy. Through the use of intensified breathing techniques and evocative music, in a supportive environment, Holotropic Breathwork makes possible an opening into enhanced states of consciousness manifesting through images, emotions, memories, and body experiences. Catharsis of unresolved trauma, including birth trauma, is common and facilitates an accompanying psychological rebirth or “second birth” out of the defensive armoring of the ego. Grof’s “expanded cartography of the psyche” describes in detail the common experiences during non-ordinary states of consciousness, including those emerging from the perinatal and transpersonal dimensions of the human unconscious, as well as the biographical domain recognized by other branches of psychology.

 

Jungian Analytical Psychology is based on the foundational concept of archetypes—formative principles, patterns, and dynamisms in the depths of the “collective unconscious” psyche that shape and animate our lives. Among the most prominent archetypes are the shadow (the dark, primitive, and inferior part of the personality), the anima (eros, the inner feminine, and the archetype of life), the animus (logos, the inner masculine), the mother, the trickster, the hero, and the archetype of the spirit. Coming to terms with the role of the archetypes and the unconscious in our lives is essential for the process of psychological growth and transformation that Jung called individuation. Through this process we might bring our consciousness into alignment with the Self—the center and totality of the psyche, described by Jung as the “God-image.” Jung is also known for his research into dream interpretation, synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), the nature of God, the problem of evil, and the psychological significance of alchemy.

 

Archetypal Astrology is the study of the correlations between cyclical alignments of the planets and archetypal themes in human experience. Pioneered by Richard Tarnas, archetypal astrology combines an understanding of archetypal principles articulated in the psychology of C. G. Jung, James Hillman, and Stanislav Grof with techniques and interpretive methodologies drawn from astrology, in both its ancient and modern forms. Archetypes are understood as Platonic (metaphysical), mythic, and Jungian (psychological, instinctual) in essence. To study the positions of the planets at specific moments of time is to understand how the archetypes associated with those planets are related to each other in human experience. Archetypal astrology is especially helpful for understanding the content of non-ordinary states of consciousness and for understanding the transformations one might go through during the individuation process—an application explored in Keiron Le Grice’s work.

 

Archetypal Cosmology is the larger academic field, incorporating archetypal astrology, concerned with understanding the theoretical basis of astrological correlations and their implications for the wider worldview. Drawing on scholarship from many areas such as astrology, depth psychology, history, philosophy, cosmology, religious studies, cultural studies, the arts, and the new sciences, archetypal cosmology is multidisciplinary subject primarily focused on understanding the nature of archetypes and their role in the universe. Major contributors to the field are Richard Tarnas (author of Cosmos and Psyche) Keiron Le Grice (author of The Archetypal Cosmos), and the community of scholars associated with Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology (www.archai.org).

 

Related Perspectives: The programs at ITAS also draw selectively on a range of other perspectives such as psychiatry, psychedelics, ecopsychology,  the perennial philosophy, mysticism, shamanism, the Indian chakra system and kundalini yoga, Roberto Assagioli’s transpersonal psychosynthesis, Joseph Campbell’s study of the myth of the hero’s journey, and more.

 

 

 

 

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