The aim of this tool is to facilitate you integrating parts of your psyche that have become separated from yourself in some sense. In psychosynthesis the separated parts are referred to as sub-personalities. Most therapeutic traditions include the idea that aspects of one’s psyche are relegated to sub-conscious or unconscious domains. In Jungian analysis there is a different concept, namely that of the archetype that represents a universal aspect of one’s psyche. There is also the recognition that aspects of an individual’s energy can become locked within the archetype. In Gestalt psychology there is a well used process in which different ‘voices’, based on aspects of oneself, have different places to sit (literally on different cushions) so that they can negotiate. In all these different approaches the general aim is to reduce the separation between aspects of the self so that the individual has greater choice and access to more of their energy.
I will illustrate the ways of using these processes using three personal examples.
The first is based upon the Jungian process of Active Imagination and is based upon the process described in detail in ‘The Inner Guide Meditation’. This illustrates well how an archetype can become suppressed and carry with it an important aspect of one’s self. The central negotiation involves asking the sub-personality “what do you want from me and my life in order to be my friend and ally?” Once something has been agreed between you and the sub-personality, you then ask “what have you to give me in return?” To succeed your negotiation has to be real and detailed, it fails if you make a promise you cannot keep. The full description of my negotiation is here.
The second is a classic gestalt exercise I undertook to resolve a long running conflict between my ‘pilgrim’, who wanted to purify and meditate, and my ‘hedonist’ who wanted to drink alcohol and go to parties. This illustrates the way that internal conflicts can hold one up – and how negotiating between them can yield creative ways forward. When I undertook this negotiation I had three cushions, one representing pilgrim, one hedonist and the third one representing me. It was important to only speak with the voice corresponding to my position; if someone else wanted to speak I had to move to their position first. You can read the full account here.
The third example is my use of a fantasy journey to integrate an aspect of my childhood. The particular fantasy used is not critical; in psychosynthesis a standard fantasy involves meeting a bus and noticing who gets off. The key to the integration is to become the sub-personality and give it a voice and for your self to respond to what it hears. The dialogue can become a negotiation, and can include the use of different positions for the voices. My example is available here.