JUNG, ALCHEMY AND EASTERN HEALING TRADITIONS: Ancient and Modern Practices for Health and Longevity

A wrong functioning of the psyche can do much to injure the body, just as conversely a bodily illness can affect the psyche; for psyche and body are not separate entities but one and the same life. -C. G. Jung

There is no illness that is not at the same time an unsuccessful attempt at a cure. -C. G. Jung

In this course we will explore the major themes of mental and physical health and longevity, trauma and illness, individuation and enlightenment, in light of the evolution of Jung’s synthesis of ideas on alchemy, integration of the shadow, and eastern healing traditions. We will look at recent developments in the West on such topics as PTSD, embodied trauma, intergenerational transmission of trauma, neuroscience, nutritional science, and various methods for nurturing the body through food choices, sleep, exercise.

From the Eastern standpoint, we will examine healing traditions that have been practiced and tested for thousands of years, as Jung put it, “the medical philosophies of a distant past,” such as Taoism, Hatha Yoga, Dream and Sleep Yoga, the Chakras, Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Chinese medicine and acupuncture and the use of meditation and mantras to create a refuge of peace within mind and body. We will look at how much in modern medical research and neuroscience helps verify the efficacy of these practices.

The spiraling complexity, stress, and pressures of modern life have created a vortex of toxicity and contagion that has penetrated into the psyche and body of modern humans. This is evidenced by the spiraling epidemic of modern health problems such as immune disorders, obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. The use of anti-depressants has increased 400% in the last 10 years in an attempt to avoid this suffering. By integrating ancient and modern practices, we can integrate trauma and the shadow aspects of body and psyche. We can use these practices to reclaim the energy that was used to dissociate and numb us from our wounds, perpetuate outmoded and pathological defense mechanisms, addictions, and projections, in order to overcome our resistance to lifestyle changes that can heal us. We can then use the recollected energy and “chi” for self-care and creative life force, and inoculate the immune systems of our body and psyche to better resist future infection. By making better conscious choices for bodily nourishment, we are able to create an energetic dimension that supports the higher experiences of the psyche, and by making better conscious choices for our psychic nourishment, we benefit and strengthen the body. In this way we can work to promote excellent health and long life and find our way on the path of individuation and enlightenment.

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