In the late 1980s (wow! was it really that long ago?) I was becoming increasingly curious about both my
personal development and my spiritual growth. To find a way forward,
I read widely, went to a variety of workshops and classes, and spoke
to a lot of people - but without finding what I was looking for. Then
one day I read the first chapter of the book Psychosynthesis first published
in 1965 by Roberto Assagioli and had an epiphany - here was a path that
could help me discover my true spiritual nature and increase my ability
to live this in the world.
Since then, the philosophy and models of Psychosynthesis
have strongly influenced my life and my work as a coach and mentor,
none more so than
Psychosynthesis's central model - "The Egg of Being" (see diagram).
This is a map of who we are. At the heart of the diagram is the personal
self, our individual "I" or self that experiences itself as having
thoughts, emotions and sensations. Becoming more aware of this centre
of our being
is a primary goal of Psychosynthesis for this is the place from which
we can manage and direct our personality - rather than be directed
it - and take responsibility for our process of becoming.
Becoming more fully integrated human beings (which Warren Bennis asserts
is also the route to becoming a great leader) involves enabling the
self's attention to more freely range across the whole of who we are
(represented as the interior of the egg). The middle unconscious represents
our present and contains those aspects of ourselves that can easily
be brought into our field of awareness. Our field of awareness is constantly
changing in shape as what we attend to changes. The lower unconscious
stands for our past and includes repressed complexes, long forgotten
memories, instincts and physical functions over which we ordinarily
have no conscious control. The higher unconscious represents our evolutionary
future and is that part of our psychological space from which we receive
inspiration and illumination and is where our intuition and potential
lie. We are immersed in the collective unconscious in which all beings
play a part.
When we incarnate, our self is clothed in a physical body and a personality,
both of which develop as we grow enabling us to be and act in the world.
But both can also limit us. Our personality with its particular configurations
of thoughts, beliefs and emotions may come to bind us too tightly. As
we learn to disidentify from the contents of our consciousness and expand
our field of awareness, so we come to know our essential self and to
express the fullness of ourselves in the world.
Assagioli expresses it very eloquently; "Psychosynthesis
is a method of psychological development and Self realisation for
those who refuse
to remain the slaves of their own inner phantasms or of external influences,
who refuse to submit passively to the play of psychological forces
is going on within them, and who are determined to become the masters
of their own lives."
For an excellent introduction to Psychosynthesis read Psychosynthesis: The Elements and Beyondby Will Parfitt (available at www.willparfitt.com) or,
for its application to leadership, read Inner Leadership by Simon Smith