Running, spirituality, and psychology…

When people try to crack psychological questions, I guess many are familiar with the question “What would Freud say about this?”. But psychoanalysis as I know it (and I am of course not a n expert) devotes itself to scientific “truths,” and tends to negate spirituality or experiences. I guess because of my character, and also because of my professional past in research and academia; I move uncomfortably in my chair whenever professionals hold “unquestionable” insights. After all, it is clear to us that we are not always right, and that the truth does not belong to individuals of virtue. This can happen in the exact sciences and in natural sciences, but it is doubly true in the humanities. This assumption also does not miss psychology – the study of the mind and behavior, as these are determined in relation to society as a whole. Therefore, Jung with his groundbreaking thinking, thanks to which he was actually boycotted by Freud and to this day is treated as an esoteric footnote in many faculties of psychology. Jung caught my attention.

As I wrote before, one of the most powerful experiences in the “4 Deserts” race in Namibia in late 2021 was the “here and now” feelings and a very clear sense of the deep psychological process I am going through during the race. Maybe it’s the stage in life, the fact that it was the first race after a damn period of COVID, and maybe the intensities of the race with the difficulty, the heat, the route, and the demanding terrain. These made me think of another side to endurance events. True, the dimensions of physical, mental and technical preparation for a race are well known and reviewed. The conduct during the race in everything related to mental and mental coping also wins books, articles and even workshops. Even therapeutic dimensions of running as a method of psychological treatment are documented in the literature and used. What I did not notice is documentation, analysis, or an attempt to interpret deep mental processes of people who is dealing with extreme endurance events. For me it is he deep psychological process tat happens underneath and is realized only after the race.

Jung tended to incorporate the mystical approach of human psychic analysis as opposed to Freud’s analytical approach. In his Red Book he tried to test his theories in self-analysis. He tried to understand the internal navigation system. Emotions, thoughts, behavior – the connection between the conscious and the subconscious – is the way to become a perfect person. He argued that man’s purpose is to understand the expression of the subconscious that floats to the surface, and that the purpose of his existence is to illuminate the darkness of just being “the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” For him there is a continuous connection between the conscious and the subconscious, and a huge part of what we get comes from our parts that we do not know. Therefore, the process of individuation, in which a person understands his actions in the process of understanding consciousness – is critical to the person.

Its basic division is into the conscious, the individual subconscious, and the collective subconscious. Awareness is how one identifies oneself, in which the ego is also the story you tell yourself about yourself, and sits in the persona that is your expression towards the environment. This phrase is different from who you really are. The ego filters different dimensions – and these dimensions are a big part of the subconscious. I think the experience of endurance, as deep as it is, peels off the layers of our ego in itself. Until we stand naked in front of our own eyes. I know many moments where I tell myself an alternate story in my head to make it easier to deal with the race – and immediately afterwards reprimand myself for the lie I make in my mind.

The subconscious, according to Jung, is both personal and collective. The personal, corresponds continuously with the conscious. However, according to Jung there is also a collective subconscious, which largely sums up the historical experiences of humanity as a biological evolution. Man has evolved this consciousness over the generations, but this evolution has not been completed because there are many more hidden layers in our subconscious. According to Jung each person inherits these patterns, and he bases this on recurring motifs he has found among many of his patients. Even crosses cultures that have not been exposed to each other.

These dimensions work in parallel to create the self, what you really want, crave, what you really are. According to him, getting there is what creates a full life. This is also the goal of the individual: to try to get there, to accept yourself out of personal sincerity at the highest level. Recognize that we are not always what we think or what we want. When the shadow is not gone by not looking at it there is no movement that separates the individual from his own shadow. The shadow is part of your nature and only at night there are no shadows. That is why you need to know it and to take care of it. This of course is not a simple process, and probably not really possible.

Jung saw the man of our time blind to the fact that with all his rationality and efficiency, he has “powers” beyond his control. His gods and demons did not disappear at all; They only have new names. They keep him running with restlessness, vague fears, psychological complications, insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food – and above all, a large array of neuroses. He argued that whenever there is a descent to the innermost experience, to the core of the personality, most people are overcome by fear and many flee. . . The risk of an inner experience, the adventure of the spirit, is foreign to most human beings anyway. The possibility that such an experience may have a psychic reality is a horror to them. “Life calls us forward to independence, and anyone who does not listen to this call because of childish laziness or shyness is threatened with neurosis. And once it breaks out, it becomes an increasingly valid reason to run away from life.”

These statements fascinate me because for me they symbolize the great challenge in our lives. Really accept your shortcomings, your weaknesses, what you see or fear in others. Admitting that you are not necessarily as perfect as you think. It is a shaky experience but essential to a full and complete life. Not only fix the bugs in your operating system, but also a tool to fix the control system to re-enter the coordinates that will lead you to where you want to be.

Jung saw great importance in dreams. According to him, dreams are the impartial spontaneous products of the unconscious mind, out of the control of the will. They are pure nature; They show us the colorless natural truth, and are therefore appropriate, like nothing else, to give us back an attitude that conforms to our basic human nature when our consciousness has gone too far from its foundations and stumbled upon a dead end. An interesting statement attributed to Jung is that “the facts of nature cannot be violated in the long run. Penetrating and infiltrating anything like water, they will undermine any system that does not take them into account, and sooner or later bring about its downfall. That the spirit is a part of it – should not fear premature decline. “

His statement that the difference between the “natural” process of “unconscious” individuation and that which is realized consciously is enormous. In the first case, consciousness does not intervene anywhere; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case, so much darkness comes to light. “The personality is imbued with light and consciousness necessarily gains scope and insight. The encounter between the conscious and the unconscious should ensure that the light shining in the darkness will not only be perceived by the darkness, but will understand it.” Left me pondering, trying to figure out if the process I was trying to figure out belonged to the first or the second. And maybe my personal experience is exactly the moment when the process becomes a conscious process.

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