Transformation is a word that is over-used these days, often applying to any kind of change. Following some contemporary thinkers in transpersonal psychology, I make a distinction between translation and transformation.
Translation has to do with moving horizontally on the same game board, so to speak: the self is given a new way to think or feel about reality, and learns to play the game of life more effectively. The self learns to translate its world and its way of being in terms of this new belief or practice, and experiences more happiness or fulfillment. This is very helpful, and is often just the thing that is needed.
Transformation, on the other hand, challenges and undermines the process of translation itself. We see ourselves and the world through a very different lens. This takes place naturally during the process of human development. As children, we leave behind earlier structures of meaning-making and self-definitions repeatedly, and move into more mature levels which both transcend and include those that preceded them. A twelve year old has already experienced several such shifts. This kind of transformation can, but does not always, continue through adulthood, with movement into more expanded perspectives and identities, even into those realms we describe as trans-personal, beyond the individual ego.
The emerging field of nondual therapy now has two books devoted to it, written by some of its pioneers, as well as an annual conference. My work in this context grows out of my own experience as well as what I have learned from watching and listening to others. While the term itself makes no sense from one perspective, since no “therapy” is needed to open the door to awakening or nondual realization, the kinds of experiential modalities I use – Brainspotting, EMDR, working with parts of the self and Enneagram fixations, inquiry processes – have tremendous value in loosening the hold of deep patterns of reactivity that keep us from realizing the truth of our being. It is possible to get to the root of long-standing, emotionally “loaded” reactions that seem to keep us “stuck” (like velcro!) circling around the same old identification with a separate and suffering self – and in the process of meeting these patterns, to “see through,” dissolve or shift them so that one’s relationship to them is fundamentally altered.
It is my privilege and joy to work with individuals and small groups in exploring this profound territory.
This is an image of Mt. Rainier, known to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest as Tahoma. The image was originally used as the logo for Tahoma School of Transformative Studies, designed to be a new graduate school in Seattle. While the School as initially conceived some years ago does not now exist, the dream still lives in this less formal expression as part of my ongoing commitment and work.
When this lenticular (shaped like a lens) cloud appears over the great mountain,
it signals a transformation in the weather. . .
Logo by Gary Shinn Design, Edmonds, WA.