LECTURES AND COURSES

LECTURES

OBJECT RELATIONS AND ATTACHMENT DYNAMICS:
The Psychoneuroimmunology of Shadow Projection   April 16, 2021

EMBODYING SELF LOVE THROUGH INTENTIONAL AWARENESS:
The Alchemy of Tantric Anatomy and the Immune System   August 21, 2020

UNDERSTANDING SELF LOVE:
Tantra and the Golden Shadow   April 17, 2020

TRAUMA, PASSION, AND ENLIGHTENMENT   
April 12, 2019

SHAMING THE DIVINE CHILD:
The Life Cycle of Individuation   October 2018

EMBRACING THE SHADOW REALM LUCIDLY:
Building the Capacity to Experience Bliss   September 2017

EXPLORING THE PARADOX OF INDIVIDUATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT:
Active Imagination, Dream Yoga, and Sleep Yoga    March 12, 2015

UNCONDITIONAL CARE OF THE SELF:
Activating the Immune function of the Psyche, Subtle Body, and Body   201

EXPLORING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RECURRING DREAMS   2002

COURSES:

BUILDING THE CAPACITY TO EXPERIENCE BLISS    March 2018

THE SACRED MARRIAGE:
Extracting the Prima Materia from Relationships   April 20, 2017

THE BODY AND INDIVIDUATION:
Physical Healing and Awareness   September 08, 2016

DREAM YOGA AND SLEEP YOGA: 
Paths to Individuation, Liberation, and Enlightenment   March 20, 2015

NARCISSISM AND SELF REALIZATION:
Transcending Toxic Self Love     September 2015

THE ALCHEMY OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN AND OUT OF BODY:
An Exploration of Embodiment, Parapsychology, Death and Rebirth   2014

CREATIVITY AND DESTRUCTION:
Dissociation, Chaos, and the Coniunctio in the Pursuit of Bliss   2013

UNCONDITIONAL CARE OF THE SELF:
Solutio and the Alchemical Transformation of Defense Mechanisms and Addictions   2012

JUNG, ALCHEMY, AND EASTERN HEALING TRADITIONS:
Using Ancient and Modern Practices for Health and Longevity   March 2012

JUNG AND EASTERN SPIRITUALITY
2001

DESCRIPTIONS OF COURSES AND LECTURES

OBJECT RELATIONS AND ATTACHMENT DYNAMICS:

The Psychoneuroimmunology of Shadow Projection (Part 2)

An Evening with Tim Lyons  June 25, 2021

May the frightfulness become so great that it can turn men’s eyes inward, so that their will no longer seeks the self in others but in themselves.” C.G. Jung, The Red Book

I’ve spent many years alone with the process of unlearning. Have you ever unlearned anything?” C. G. Jung, The Red Book

            In part 2 of this program, we will explore how we can develop somatic consciousness in order to unlearn some of our most primal, instinctually and biologically conditioned attachments. The child’s awakening at birth is charged with duality from the first cry of chaotic inflammatory emotions that interrupt the sleeping, dreaming experience of oneness in the womb. The first breath of air boots up the immune system of the infant and the essential journey of seeking connections begins. The initial inflammatory shadow projection of chaos at birth is appeased as the archetypal instinct to search for nourishment kicks in. If one is lucky enough, the flow of mother’s colostrum, the yellowish fluid, “liquid gold,” almost narcotic, dense in nutrients and antibodies, soothes the infant. The golden shadow of paradisal oneness is projected within the union of mother and infant.

The ultimate vulnerable shocking moment at birth triggers the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. Then, in an alchemical transformation, it shifts to the emotionally healing, digestion and procreating supporting, immune enhancing, parasympathetic nervous system. This alternation of compensatory dualities; psychic and somatic, diastolic and systolic, of dark and golden shadow projection, is the beginning of the hero’s object relations journey.

The embodied pattern of dependent object relations, once essential for the survival of the infant, may develop into attachments to the bad object. These stressful, auto-immune-inducing, co-dependent attachments can become deadly, even as we struggle to grow to independence. Understanding these frightful situations can help mobilize our will to turn inward so we can make conscious choices that are biologically and emotionally sustainable to the Self. The goal is to transform our own natural internal psychopharmacology to promote nourishing inner peace and conscious individuation.

OBJECT RELATIONS AND ATTACHMENT DYNAMICS:
The Psychoneuroimmunology of Shadow Projection

An Evening with Tim Lyons April 16, 2021

“…it is love, warm human love, blood, warm red blood, the holy source of life, the unification of everything separated and longed for.” C.G. Jung, The Black Book, vol. 5, p. 266

In this evening’s talk, we will explore how early object relations concepts and infant attachment theory can provide a framework for understanding the root development of shadow projection. When we are triggered to project our shadow, a cascade of psychological, neurological, endocrinological, and immunological processes are transmitted through the flow of blood and energy pathways in our bodies and create an alchemical reaction. This symphony of processes is directly related to our capacity to develop adaptive immunity to disease, psychological resilience, and the trajectory of conscious and unconscious individuation throughout our life cycle. 

The psychoneuroimmunology of early-life stress, internalized in the infant’s psyche and body, may predict later patterns of biological and psychological inflammation. These thermal fluctuations grow out of the infant’s conflicted feelings of attachment and separation from love objects. Autoimmune defensive adaptations to this stress can produce attachment to the bad object and seed future self-destructive codependent relationships, dissociations, and addictions.

Understanding these dynamics can help us to navigate the current personal psychic and biologic, collective and cultural dualities that may trigger intense projections. Unconscious navigation tends to create inflammation; conscious navigation tends to be anti-inflammatory. We will explore ways to support healthy outcomes given the limitations of our conditioning. Integrating projections with conscious intent can lead us to awaken the embodying experience of unification and primal wholeness in new and nourishing ways.


EMBODYING SELF LOVE THROUGH INTENTIONAL AWARENESS:
The Alchemy of Tantric Anatomy and the Immune System

An Evening with Tim Lyons   August 21, 2021

All are clear, I alone am clouded.” Lao Tzu

“Only after I had familiarized myself with alchemy, did I realize that the unconscious is a process, and the psyche is transformed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious.” C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

In tonight’s program we will explore the alchemical processes that link the nourishing energetic field of ‘Self Love’ with the subtle energy system of Tantric anatomy. When this infusion of Self Love is activated with intentional awareness it becomes embodied within our human anatomy and supports the biological, subtle, and psychological aspects of the immune function. This in turn helps free us from being enslaved by reactivity coming from our pain identity that is triggered by shadow projections onto inner and outer, good and bad objects.

Accessing the power of this sacred anatomy with this infusion of awareness can open us up to a deepening experience of mystery, scintillating with conscious thought transference and synchronicity. Through these empowerments we can develop a grounded ego and strengthen self-esteem and physical health. Within the purifying alchemy of this interactive field, we can meet ourselves in the outer world through the constellation of Tantric relationships with others that link our evolving consciousness meaningfully to the collective and the cosmos.

In alchemy, in order to attain the highest degree of conjunction, the prima materia —what Jung calls “the unknown substance that carries the projection of the autonomous psychic content”— must be extracted from the sacred bath. The optimal extraction comes when we bathe with a tincture of conscious Self Love. More often we are left with the predicament of turning self-hatred and shadow projections into the tincture by an inoculation of awareness that these inner and outer projections ultimately constitute an autoimmune self-attack. Then this autoimmune energy can be transmuted to dissolve our allergic reactions to ourselves.

As Jung points out: “the symptomatology of an illness is at the same time a natural attempt at healing.” In Tantra, visualizing the currents of energy running through the channels of the sacred anatomy refines consciousness, purifying our psychic projections. As we develop more “subtle muscle” through practice, these energies, magnetized with intentional awareness, are embodied in the unifying mandala of the Self. In both Tantra and Alchemy, pursuing non-duality promotes conscious individuation. As the pain identity dissolves into infinite fearlessness, we reclaim the primordial state of complete immunity through Self Love. 


UNDERSTANDING SELF LOVE:
Tantra and the Golden Shadow

An Evening with Tim Lyons   Friday, April 17, 2020

The awakening of nourishing self-love, self-esteem and self-care for body and mind are at the heart of every individuation and therapeutic process. In tonight’s presentation we will explore two invaluable and complementary paths to help discover and develop these qualities within ourselves; the integration of the golden shadow and self-mastery through Tantric teachings.

When we are ripe to awaken to new potentialities within ourselves, they often first become visible in another person we admire, think of as a hero, or fall in love with.  We project our luminous, yet shadowy, unconscious golden potential on to them and they carry our gold for us, for a while…usually until some disillusionment tips us off. This is an opportunity for us to recognize that the projected gold can be an unlived quality within us which we may harvest and invest in the self through re-collection of the projection. Robert Johnson says of this process: “to own one’s shadow is the purpose of life,” and that “projecting our inner gold offers us the best chance for an advance in consciousness.”

The obstacles to reclaim this inner gold often grow out of a person’s negative self-judgment; we are not good enough to shine with such gold. In Tantra, consciously experiencing one’s passions and pleasures to the fullest is the goal. Tantric teachings provide meditational tools so that the energies of obstacles, negativities, pleasures and passions are transmuted into vehicles for enlightenment.  We learn to recognize the guru in each moment, and our most egotistical, miserable and dissatisfied thoughts are converted into fuel for our inner fire, for creativity and intimate connections. Combining the understanding of the golden shadow and Tantra allows us to fund our own inner happiness and be less dependent on others for happiness. In this way we turn our lead into gold and are able to love ourselves and others in the most profound healing way.

RITUAL AND MAGIC AND THE AWAKENING OF THE NUMINOUS

An Evening with Tim Lyons   Tuesday, October 15, 2019 

Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Are Siri and Alexa the new oracles of Delphi? Who needs bone pointing wizard to curse your enemy when you can use a drone? It is as if the enchanted broom of Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice has exploited the development of technologies so they surpass even science fiction. In this presentation, we will explore how the ancient arts of ritual and magic and modern science can be adapted to awaken numinous subtle energies and activate mind body self-healing that can help us survive and thrive in this tumultuous and amazing world.

Both white and black “magic” can be found in the addictive, profit-driven, indispensable internet and electronics that can hijack a two-year old’s brain before they learn to speak. The latest pharmacology offers remedies for countless illnesses, along with endless lists of side effects. On the other hand, when modern physiological research is combined with yogic pranayama and the Tibetan meditation practice of inner fire, initiates can rev up their immune system, run up Mount Everest in their shorts and free divers can hold their breath for 24 minutes.

The adept use of meditation and rituals can empower such depth psychology tools as active imagination, dream incubation, divination and lucid dreaming to enhance consciousness in order to mine the paradoxical treasures of the unconscious. But, Jung points out, “insight into them must be converted into an ethical obligation” to not “fall prey to the power principle.” Learning about these ancient and modern tools, discussing both their destructive and numinous transformative qualities, will be the subject of tonight’s dialogue.

TRANSFORMING THE DARK DEITY OF TRAUMA:
A Passionate Path to the Inner Divine

An Evening with Tim Lyons   Friday, April 12, 2019

Trauma isn’t just for the unlucky victims in the accident we pass by on the road. The traumatic impact of death, violence, illness and loneliness is a dark deity in the heart of our everyday psychological and biological reality. The compelling fear and darkness of seemingly intractable traumas can become the central theme that patterns and re-patterns our daily lives. In this program we will explore ways to wake the dormant transformational energies within trauma itself.

The enthralling power of this condition can be overwhelming and petrifying. Strong measures are needed to counteract it. Jung advises, “I would not rest until amid the pain a light appeared to me, for in excessu affectus [in an excess of affect or passion] Nature reverses herself.” How might we arouse a healing passion that actually encourages nature to reverse herself? In each deep trauma there lies a paradoxical matrix, a flow chart of energy, that if recognized, can awaken our own embodied, unique divinity.

SHAMING THE DIVINE CHILD:
The Life Cycle of Individuation

 An Evening with Tim Lyons   October 12, 2018

“But the spirit of the depths teaches me that I am a servant, in fact the servant of a child: This dictum was repugnant to me and I hated it.  But I had to recognize and accept that my soul is a child and that my God in my soul is a child.” -Carl Jung, The Red Book, Liber Novus

Before birth the child lies sleeping, then later, dreaming in the womb; the divine journey of the evolution of consciousness begins. Upon awakening in the chaos at birth, a drama unfolds: the psyche begins to develop the capacity to try to organize these events into dynamic, meaningful patterns. This begins a mobilization of feelings that become focused on the dramatic split between the omnipotent child, who is at once the center of the world, and the vulnerable dependent child, frustrated by chaos, abandonment, and deprivation. This split causes an interruption in the flow of libidinal energy between inner and outer relationships and induces the first experiences of shame. The wounded child and the divine child exist in each cell of our body and in all psychic movement from birth to death. In this birthing of the alternation of these primal opposites, the life cycle of individuation is generated.   

But just as the suffering and shame is present in every cell of our body, so are the seeds of conscious understanding and liberation that link us to our paradisal origins. Jung wrote, “If you marry the ordered to the chaos you produce the divine child, the supreme meaning beyond meaning and meaninglessness.” In tonight’s program, we will examine how the onset of individuation motivates the resolution of this tug of war between omnipotence and vulnerability so that we can become the willing “servant” of our own divine child. Shame can then become a guiding light on the path to release us from captivity.

BUILDING THE CAPACITY TO EXPERIENCE BLISS

A Course with Tim Lyons   March 15 – April 12, 2018 

 “If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.  When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you.  I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life…I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”      Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

The goals of experiencing “the rapture of being alive” and entering “the field of your bliss” are often not consciously pursued in life. Following your bliss can be an intimidating process and its paradoxical aspects can bring liberation or enslavement. The field of enslavement, at its worst, is littered with the bodies of opioid addicts on skid row or celebrities that seemed to have everything and yet feel worthless and destroy themselves.  Yet the rewards of seeking the liberating and nourishing energy field of bliss are great. Jung says that to attain this “paradisal state of blissfulness” is, “to possess a treasury of accumulated libido which can constantly stream forth.” –“We must now ask ourselves, whence comes this blissful feeling, this ecstasy of love?”

Ironically the call to follow your bliss often comes when the needs of the body and soul may no longer be met by our career, society, our relationships, or our pleasures.  When the best laid plans go awry or we may be faced with ill health. It may be here, as Campbell says “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

This course will offer us a chance to examine paths to discover our own unique field of bliss. We will consider how to take on this quest consciously and intentionally. In this way we can discover the energy in our “innermost being” that will illuminate our bliss and avoid enslavement. This may be done by reclaiming and integrating the energy invested in repressing our shadows both dark and golden that have guarded the treasure of bliss.  Once our bliss begins to be revealed “our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality” and the doors to support our path to bliss in the outer world can open.

EMBRACING THE SHADOW REALM LUCIDLY:
Building the Capacity to Experience Bliss

An Evening with Tim Lyons   September 15, 2017

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.  When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you.  I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”    – Joseph Campbell

Considering Joseph Campbell’s intriguing quote, how might we even begin to discover our bliss? How can we support such a nourishing, ecstatic, and Selfish quest?  Our world is so often a busy, mechanistic, fear addicted, survival oriented one.  How can we gain access to that ‘field’ of bliss energy in such an environment?    

The word ecstasy comes from the Latin ex-stasis, meaning to stand outside oneself.  This definition can give us a hint at how we might connect to this field of bliss. Jung’s concepts of synchronicity and the subtle body in alchemy suggest that the mind is field like and that it extends out beyond our brains in a similar way that magnetic fields spread out beyond magnets.  If we can become lucidly conscious within this field, we can discern the energy field of bliss and open the doors that will help us build the capacity to experience bliss. 

In order to differentiate ourselves from, what Jung calls, “the arsenical malignity of collective thinking,” we need to push through the great natural resistance of the psyche, linked to our identity conditioned by the collective.  We can then open the door of self-knowledge through inner work, shadow integration and the process of individuation.  In being called to approach these tasks of awareness, traumas and the dark shadows generally get our attention first.  It is just as important to own the often-neglected golden shadows that also lead directly to ecstatic experiences.  

There are many ways to build the capacity for bliss including art, meditation, Kundalini yoga, dreams, active imagination, and lucid dreaming. These powerful practices can help us develop the lucidity and fearlessness necessary to be able to unconditionally embrace our shadows both dark and golden.  In this way we can achieve “amor fati,” love of our fate.  With this self-love we can reclaim the energy that would otherwise have gone into repression of our shadows and re-purpose it to build our capacity for primordial infinite energy.  Through the doorway of inner work we can incubate an intention to experience ecstasy, joy and bliss.  In this way we may meet our inner embodied bliss through the doors that have opened in the outer world. 

THE SACRED MARRIAGE:
Extracting the Prima Materia from Relationships

 A Course with: Tim Lyons   April 20, 2017

Too many still look outward, some believing in the illusion of victory and of victorious power, others in treaties and laws, and others again in the overthrow of the existing order.  But still too few look inward, to their own selves, and still fewer ask themselves whether the ends of human society might not be best served if each man tried to abolish the old order in himself. C.G. Jung (c. 1918)

Alchemy provided a symbolic blueprint for the foundation of Jung’s psychology, the individuation process. The goal of alchemy is the sacred marriage, the coniunctio. The greatest catalyst for this transformative process comes through self-awareness within the interactive field of human relationships, both personal and public.  In the alchemical text, Rosarium Philosophorum, the experience of this mystery of union, death, and resurrection is depicted by the king and queen in the bath. This 16th-century image represents the potential to transmute chaos into synergy in relationships: in couples, families, with yourself, therapeutic partners, with the boss, and even electoral candidates. Jung states, “The factors that come together in the coniunctio are conceived as opposites, either confronting one another in enmity or attracting one another in love.”             
In the present frustrating political climate of Capitol Hill, it is said that 80 percent of “man” hours go to election and 20 percent go to legislation, a process mired in partisan politics. These partisan emotional states are the result of the same wounding, incestuous, and codependent experiences of childhood that undermine connections in adult relationships.  In an attempt to get needs met, find approval, and bolster self-worth from external sources, these wounds get projected into the container of the relationship, create chaos and alienation, and seduce us away from self-reflection and self-care.    

 In order to attain the highest degree of conjunction, the prima materia —what Jung calls “the unknown substance that carries the projection of the autonomous psychic content”— must be extracted from the sacred bath. Jung says of this procedure: “in the unconscious are hidden those ‘sparks of light’ (scintillae), the archetypes, from which a higher meaning can be extracted. The magnet that attracts the hidden thing is the Self.”  In this course we will explore the dynamics of human relationships and how they relate to the alchemical marriage. Through this process we can discover a revelatory model for transmuting the chemistry of divisive relationships into a lifelong sacred marriage with the ‘inner’ Self. This in turn, can create vital and mutually productive relationships in our ‘outer’ world.  

THE BODY AND INDIVIDUATION:
Physical Healing and Awareness

A Course by Tim Lyons   September 08, 2016

“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is ….  If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness.”  – C.G. Jung

Blood is the liquid spirit of life, the seat of the soul; one signs a contract with the devil with blood …. You see, the spirit in the blood is of course the unconscious spirit: wherever the spirit is in the blood the unconscious begins to stir. – C.G. Jung

Jung realized that “individuation cannot occur without the body.” The longer the blacker and denser manifestations of the shadow are denied, the greater the chance that the denseness may evolve into physical disease. How can we become more conscious of our contracts with the devil in terms of our blood, our defenses, self-destructive lifestyles, and self-medications that become part of our negative conditioning and identity? We can become over identified with our blood, our genes, our race, our culture to the extent we are ready to go to war.

The Internet, drugs, and food products are often designed for consumption with the built-in intention that the more that consumers remain unconscious of their own self-destruction, the greater the profit. As a result, the task of becoming self- aware is becoming increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, wellbeing is not addictive and so many self-destructive behaviors and substances are. Learning how to dissolve this conditioning of the body can help us discover our inner teacher. If we can ask what the ultimate meaningful purpose of these blockages are, at any stage of their development, we can create a great opportunity for transformation and reclaiming energy for individuation.

In this course we will examine the essential role of the body as “mandala of the divine” and how the “will of the soul” is mirrored in the “will” of the body in the individuation process. As Jung put it, “If man does this consciously and intentionally, he avoids all the unhappy consequences of repressed individuation.”

We will dialogue about the consequences of repressed individuation of the body, which can wake us up to the necessity of physical healing, boosting the immune system for both the body and the psyche, and ultimately lead us to self-realization. We will consider recent developments in neuroscience and cancer and spontaneous remissions, as well as examine concepts such as the somatic unconscious and the subtle body, in order to gain greater insight into healing and the prevention of disease. We will look at methods of inner work and the use of integrative medicine for healing, using our own body as an experimental alchemical laboratory so that we can forearm ourselves or deal with a disease that does occur in a way that brings us to consciousness.

NARCISSISM AND SELF REALIZATION:
Transcending Toxic Self Love

An Evening with Tim Lyons   March 20, 2015

“But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very fiend himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then?” – C. G. Jung, Psychology and Religion: East and West        

Narcissism is reflected in the process of all human relationship.  It is linked to an inability to see the other as separate and to a lack of self-realization.  Narcissism is also an essential component of mirroring in early childhood that occurs within the symbiotic relationship between mother and child that is vital to the development of healthy grandiosity and self-esteem.  Ideally, this mirrored alternation of inner and outer psychic process allows the mother to metabolize a sufficient amount of anxiety to enable the child to tolerate the growing pains of emerging consciousness and independence.  Narcissism in infancy is the very beginning of an evolution of mirroring that develops the axial relationship between the archetypal depths and ego consciousness leading to unconditional Self-love and Self-realization.

If, however, the parents own intergenerational narcissistic wound is so great and the mirroring process is so disrupted that the child’s anxiety related to emerging consciousness is not metabolized, the child will experience primal trauma provoked by this expulsion from paradise.  The toxic self “love” of the parent cannot allow for the individual otherness of the child who is expected to grow up to mirror the parents own image. The child is unable to develop and experience their own emotions adequately, leading to emotional incest and abuse, codependency and pathological defenses that are re-patterned into adulthood. In today’s culture these narcissistic dynamics are mirrored collectively in the Facebook zeitgeist, in “selfies,” in our devastating disregard for the earth’s environment, and in wars.

 Narcissus was on the edge of differentiating his reflection in the pool when he succumbed to his own bait, fell in and drowned.  We can use the myth’s images as a caution.  In the course of human events, we will fall in, but we need to learn to swim and drag ourselves out of the pool, having perhaps survived a near death experience of the ego.  Using different versions of Narcissus and Echo, related myths, case material, and examples from contemporary culture, we will reexamine the dynamics and archetypal patterns of narcissism with the goal to see to a greater depth in order to reclaim our primordial wholeness from our reflection in the mirror of today’s world.

A DREAM YOGA AND SLEEP YOGA:
Paths to Individuation, Liberation, and Enlightenment

A Six-Week Course with Tim Lyons, begins Thursday, March 20

My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature — a state of fluidity, change, and growth where nothing is fixed and hopelessly petrified.  – C.G. Jung, The Aims of Psychotherapy

I must not sleep like a beast, but cherish the experiential cultivation which mingles sleep with realization.  – Padmasambhava, Natural Liberation, 8th century

Active imagination, dream yoga, and sleep yoga are powerful transformative practices that can bring about the experimental psychic state that was Jung’s goal. Jung said about individuation that: If man does this consciously and intentionally, he avoids all the unhappy consequences of repressed individuation. In other words, if he voluntarily takes on the burden of completeness on himself, if he need not find it “happening” to him against his will in a negative form. This counsel can be applied to liberation and enlightenment, the goals of the Tibetan Buddhist practices of dream and sleep yoga. Each of these practices can create value out of our suffering and yield productive growth and not repeated negative patterns of unconscious suffering where we are “hopelessly petrified.”

Active imagination is a meditational practice, which Jung developed, during which one’s waking consciousness enters into a dialogue, through one’s imagination, with different parts of one’s self that are rooted in the unconscious in order to explore the unknown other for self-realization. Dream yoga promotes the use of lucid dreaming, wherein waking consciousness reawakens into the dream to interact with the dream environment. This lucidity is mirrored in the ability to recognize the dream-like quality of daily life. Lucidity in dreams can demonstrate the illusory quality of fears and reactivity and can be understood as a way of building psychic immunity to our own conditioned mind. Lucidity in the dream potentially leads to lucidity in deep (non-REM) sleep during which it is possible to experience liberation from samsara, our karmic delusions, and ultimately attain the “clear light.” This, in a sense, 24- hour-and-beyond, mindfulness practice is intended to penetrate the states of waking, meditating, dreaming, deep sleep, death, and the bardo, and is aimed at “abiding in non-dual awareness,” the primordial, unconditioned state of mind.

One need not be able to attain lucidity in dreams or deep sleep, in order to find benefits. Developing lucidity in our waking life helps us to turn inward to reconnect with ourselves in spite of the increasingly addictive distractions of daily life that can numb us into passivity regarding our pursuit of self-realization. Lucid-dreaming themes increasingly appear in our culture, in movies, and the rapidly evolving digitally enhanced virtual-reality technologies. In this course we will explore these practices in light of Jung’s alchemical psychology and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives on liberation, the obstacles, and cautions, and the personal and collective implications in our modern world.

THE ALCHEMY OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN AND OUT OF BODY:
An Exploration of Embodiment, Parapsychology, Death and Rebirth

A Course with Tim Lyons   2014

“Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light…Presumably I too was in my primal form…I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness…It is impossible to convey the beauty and intensity of emotion during those visions. They were the most tremendous things I have ever experienced.”   C.G. Jung

Being embodied is an experience of feeling finite in the form of the body.  To be identified with one’s thoughts, and hence “out of the body” and then manage to enter into an embodied state, moves a person back to his or her true essence.”  Nathan Schwartz Salant

It is not coincidence that the first subject of Carl Jung’s collected works was occult phenomena. This was in clear opposition to Freud’s causality driven world view. When Freud told Jung to “promise never abandon the sexual theory…that we must create a dogma of it…an unshakeable bulwark…against the black tide of mud of occultism.”  These words “alarmed” Jung and ultimately split his relationship with his mentor.

These “so called occult phenomena” involve the concept that consciousness and spirit can exist ‘in’ as well as ‘outside’ the body, and not just limited to the biological function of the brain. As much as these ideas terrified Freud, they, thankfully, helped propel Jung into a healing crisis, his “confrontation with the unconscious,” with the result that he formulated some of the most revolutionary and practical psychological advances in modern times. In the process, Jung struggled to understand issues of science and faith, death and rebirth, precognition and karma.  He also found that it was essential to stay grounded and embodied enough so as not to be “torn to pieces” by the intense “emotions wrought up” by this experience. Jung’s self experiment provides a model for the animation of the individuation process.

Violence, abuse, emotional incest, war, medical procedures, near death experiences, shock, dissociate and displace our consciousness and tend to drive it out of body. Even our good qualities and talents can send us out of body through inflation.  Especially intense and intrusive energy can cause states of possession that occupy the body stubbornly and dominate and alter perceptions.  In response to the stress, compensatory defense mechanisms, addictions and prescribed medications can fill the gap left by the displaced psyche and prevent us from re-inhabiting our bodies fully in an attempt to protect us.  Paradoxically, the greater the displacement and dissociation, the greater the repetition of the patterns that synergize with the wounding.

 If we can become mindfully aware of this displacement, we can turn the reverberating effects of trauma into a healing crisis. Then we can build our psychic and bodily immune response to these revisited patterns and eventually dissolve the imprints in and outside the body enough so that we can re-occupy our bodies safely and thrive.  Paradoxically, to do this, we often need to go “out of body” into a world that can transcend time and space, that often forces an encounter with our mortality in processes more easily identified with the occult or shamanism. These “non-ordinary states” encourage synchronistic occurrences that can help our selves associate consciously to our reactivity and the realization that these seemingly external triggers and patterns are actually self-generated.  With this increased orbit of conscious psychic existence we can expand our individuation energy’s connectivity and create opportunities to get clarity about our role and meaning in our lives, fear death less, and live more in the present.

In this course we will examine the alchemical psychodynamics of embodiment, attachment, displacement, the confusion of simultaneous mixed in and out of body states, and collective and religious influences on these states.  We will explore Jung’s struggle with questions about the transformation of psychic energy when the body dies, astral experiences, precognition and reincarnation as well as Nathan Schwartz Salant’s work on fusion states.

CREATIVITY AND DESTRUCTION:
Dissociation, Chaos, and the Coniunctio in the Pursuit of Bliss

An evening with Tim Lyons   2014

“I say to you, one must yet have chaos in himself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”   Friedrich Nietzsche

Creation and destruction go hand in hand with the alchemical process that Jung illuminated in his life’s work: “In the end the only events in my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one…. these form the prima materia of my scientific work.  They were the fiery magma out of which the stone that had to be worked was crystallized.” During the period of his life Jung called “confrontation with the unconscious” he was driven to the edge of total psychic dissociation. But the experience of this madness, this “magma” was essential for him to be able to integrate the shadow and discover the union of the unconscious and conscious; the coniunctio, the goal of alchemy.  This opened him up to a long-lived volcanic flow of creative ideas that was to last until his death at the age of 85.  Others smitten with the creative daimon are not so lucky, they drown in it and die young.  Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and literally dozens of other rock stars, joined “the 27 Club,” all dying at the age of 27 from drug overdoses. 

There is something very seductive about stars dying in Dionysian frenzy seeking ecstasy and becoming immortalized as martyrs.  Their addictions did not allow them to listen to their bodies whose pain, if heard, could help set limits. Can we remain tied to the mast of the ship, like brave Ulysses in the Odyssey, “whose naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,” (while his crew had their ears plugged with wax) and not be lured into crashing our ship on the rocks, or overdosing on heroin or, like Lance Armstrong, destroying his body and career on steroids? Is getting untied from the mast and being seduced by the sirens a way of avoiding what Thoreau points out that “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation?” Should we tamper with creativity and genius through psychoanalysis? Virginia Woolf, who feared just that said, “As an experience, madness is terrific I can assure you, and not to be sniffed at; and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about.  It shoots out of one everything shaped, final not in mere driblets, as sanity does.”

Joseph Campbell says “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” But what is bliss?  Is it ambrosia, the Grail, or the alchemical elixir and how does one find it? And when it often happens that the doors that the universe opens up contain chaos, dissociation and manic depression and we add those ingredients into the alchemical cauldron in our psyche, do we end up immersed in the bath of Dionysian-Mercurial waters as King and Queen preparing for the coniunctio or, like one rock star with his groupie, in a bath of Dom Perignon high on cocaine. In this course we will examine the lives of people like Jung, Paracelsus, Nietzsche, Van Gogh, Mozart as well as contemporary creatives to learn from their process.

We will consider the issue of traumas, unlived lives or partially lived lives and the possibility that past lives may be incubated inside us and influence the seeds of our creative potential. We will explore how the pressures of society, religion, morality and culture effect the creative process and take a look at how Taoism and Tantra can provide a structure to support the transmutation of the forces of Sol and Luna. We will look for alchemical tools to help make transformations that will allow us to value the experience of chaos consciously, as something to be achieved as a result of the conjunctio rather than something to be totally dreaded and avoided. These tools, such as active imagination, dream incubation, divination, and meditation can be used to temper and embody our process.

UNCONDITIONAL CARE OF THE SELF:
Activating the Immune function of the Psyche, Subtle Body, and Body

An Evening with Tim Lyons   2012

For no one who is one himself needs oneness as a medicine- nor, we might add, does anyone who is unconscious of his dissociation, for a conscious situation of distress is needed in order to activate the archetype of unity.”    C.G. Jung 

“Our capacities toward relationship and openness to the “other” while still remaining tuned to one’s own true self depend on our psychological “immune reactions.” Edward C. Whitmont

The immune function, essential for sustaining life in a hostile environment, can be activated through the placement of an antigenic substance, an “inoculum,” into the body that will produce or boost immunity to a specific disease. This process is analogous to the alchemical principle of conscious meeting unconscious, creating the “prima materia,” and integration of the shadow, the central theme of Jung’s work.  Our immunity is interdependent on sleep, nourishment and exercise.  All of these interactions of psyche, matter and movement occur through the transfer of energy and is mediated through what the alchemists call the subtle body.

Emotional induction, a kind of mental contagion, can occur through our interaction with people that we are emotionally close to, in groups or in crowds.  This can result in what Jung called, “psychic infection.” “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”  This transformation can metabolize as nourishing or toxic.

Our deepest primal wounds keep flashing back in recurring patterns in our lives and trigger our reactivity.  They meet us at our most vulnerable and dissociated points, where we have the least immunity.  These repeated prompts could create an opportunity for an inoculation of consciousness, but our shame saturated complexes, our humiliated inner children, our secrets, attacks our self-esteem and creates dissociative barriers repellant to ego consciousness.  To further numb and dissociate the pain, the psyche develops compensatory defense mechanisms and addictions.  Integrating these deep traumas into consciousness holds the promise of the greatest transformation. Yet paradoxically, invasive illness and healing are aspects of the same dynamic so there is the risk of self attack through an autoimmune response.  In tonight’s program we will explore this complex paradox.  

Jung said “The self is not only the center but also the whole circumference which embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious psyche.” Unconditional care of the Self allows us to embrace ourselves without prejudice throughout the continuum of conscious to unconscious, psyche to subtle body to material body, penetrating and dissolving dissociative defenses and addictions. This acceptance and benevolence support the immune function by increasing our resilience and tolerance “for a conscious situation of distress in order to activate the archetype of unity” and revitalize our lives.

UNCONDITIONAL CARE OF THE SELF:
Solutio and the Alchemical Transformation of Defense Mechanisms and Addictions

A Course with Tim Lyons   2012

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”    C. G. Jung

Wind blowing over water disperses it, dissolving it into foam and mist. This suggests that when a man’s vital energy is dammed up within him, gentleness serves to break up and dissolve the blockage.”    Richard Wilhelm, The I-Ching, Hexagram 59; Dispersion

Unconditional care for the Self is a process that embodies gentle acceptance of the totality of our self, including those parts that we disown and find repugnant.  In this way we don’t become pathogenic to ourselves and become our own worst enemy to our shadow, our greatest source of growth.  As a result of not being seen as children, of being disrespected, neglected, criticized, judged and violated, we may have dissociated and imprinted the qualities of the original perpetrators deep in our psyche.  Developing unconditional care is an antidote to self-attack and autoimmune reactions within the psyche that block the dissolution of compensatory defenses and addictions and integration of the shadow. 

The Alchemical operation ‘Solutio’ turns solid into liquid through dissolution or baptism.  In the classic alchemical treatise, The Splendor Solis, an illustration depicts an old king sitting in the alchemical bath while a man applies a bellows to the fire underneath, to “wash out the murkiness and shade” so the king can be purified and transformed into the “prima materia.”  Achilles, whose well intentioned mother, the nymph Thetis, bathed Achilles in the river Styx as she held him by the heel so that he could become immortal, might have asked, “Mom, what are you doing?”  She might have answered, as Alice Miller said ironically, its “for your own good,” leaving his heel the one vulnerable place left to later magnetize the fatal arrow during the Trojan War. 

 How can we make the arrow point an inoculation of consciousness?  Often, we are shot with the arrow over and over before we get the message that we have magnetized our own rejected primal wounds.  If we can treat that repugnant wound consciously, uncritical of our failure in battle, even venerate our repugnance, we may be able to re-baptize ourselves and re-experience the essence of our wounds and see the blessing of these symptoms that hitherto have been perceived as enemies.  We no longer throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Richard Wilhelm introduced Chinese Alchemy to Jung who synthesized the teachings with Western Alchemy creating a more effective psychology.  Jung said of Wilhelm “he has inoculated us with the living germ of the Chinese spirit.” In this course we will explore a cross inoculation of Eastern and Western Alchemical concepts that promote Solutio, such as myth and dream analysis and active imagination from the West and the I-Ching, Tibetan Tantric practices such as Dream and Sleep yoga, dark retreats, and the use of Mantra and Meditation from the East.

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

A Course with Tim Lyons   March 2012

 ”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.

EXPLORING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RECURRING DREAMS

A Lecture by Tim Lyons   November 2002

This workshop will focus on the extraordinary significance of recurring dreams and how they need to be understood in terms of our psychological wellness and development.  Recurring dreams may run in a short series or as continuations of another dream, or in some cases they repeat themselves from childhood to the advanced years of adult life.  Recurring dreams may be the direct result of serious traumas or they may reveal creative potentials totally unknown to the dreamer. In this workshop, common recurring dream motifs will be discussed as well as clinical examples in the context of Jungian theory.  Exercises to help interpret dreams of this type will be offered.  Participants are encouraged to bring in examples of their own to share or reflect on in the workshop.

JUNG AND EASTERN SPIRITUALITY

 A Course with Tim Lyons   June 2001

Jung used alchemy as the cornerstone of his psychology.  Not until Jung was first introduced to the Taoist treatise The Secret of The Golden Flower could he begin to make sense of many of the obscure alchemical texts with which he had struggled for years.  The analogies he found between these texts and his psychology of individuation opened up a new frontier for his work.

This course will focus on how the development of many of Jung’s theories are rooted in Eastern practices such as Tibetan Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga and the I-Ching, and how ancient concepts such as acupuncture and Tibetan Dream Yoga are relevant to Jungian healing processes.  We will also explore how this synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas led to the evolution of contemporary mind-body healing techniques and such concepts as the subtle body and embodied dream work.  Participants are encouraged to share their related experiences.  Reading materials will be supplied.