“Generally people who are active in a religious faith tend to get through difficult times better,” says Al Siebert, Ph.D., author of The Resiliency Advantage. (Cox 2011) Many psychologists have reached the conclusion that people with high religious convictions and who participated in religious rituals/activities could overcome depression faster than their non-religious counterparts. In Jungian Analytical Psychology, dealing with the divine mystery of religion, is really to deal with the mystery of the unconscious. One might ask, what religion is best to aid a individual to top resilience and an meaning of life. This can be difficult to answer from an theological point of view, however Analytical psychology answers this from an neutral stand point that all religions lead one through the journey of life.  All forms of scripture, rituals and tales are all expressions of the collective and personal unconscious in each individual. Jung theorized that one could engage with the unconscious through dreams ,active imagination, and so doing could gain resilience that stays with us throughout our entire lives.

“Active Imagination is a therapeutic technique which allows unconscious contents to be exposed in a waking state…The images…may be elaborated through artistic and self-expressive mediums such as painting.”(Hyde&McGuinness 1992). This allows the unconscious contents that are built up just below the surface to erupt upon the Ego and be interpreted and dealt with in a conscious context. We can apply this experience that active imagination gives to a person’s psyche when they are connecting with the archetypes on a conscious level, when they are being creative, playing with others, and learning new things, regardless of the age they currently are.
Every time a person interacts with their psyche, either through active imagination, or dreams, they are interacting with the contents of their personal unconscious and the archetypes of the collective unconscious. This gives people that sense of continuous wonder, which directly contradicts the feeling of dullness and meaningless. This allows aging individuals the feeling that their life still has meaning, for life is not over when one reaches old age. According to Jung, it is the later part of life and the psyche is still very active and is still growing and changing on the path of individuation.(Jung 1960)

Individuation is the process by which a person has a total understanding of the totality of their psyche. Unconscious contents, both personal and collective are brought forth and dealt with by the Ego. This is a process of understanding the Self, the archetype of the entire psyche/Soul/The Divine Self Within. This understanding of the Self gives people a sense of wholeness and connection with everyone around them on a universal level. This is the driving force behind why people, as they become elderly, have a healthy and motivated life. They are experiencing new things and obtaining new knowledge because their inner life is being successfully balanced. When one has  understanding of their own psyche they have no problem following their bliss and going through life as happy, resilient persons.

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Comment by Ed Koffenberger on March 1, 2012 at 11:34am

Thanks Colin. Your words remind me of a phrase of a hymn, "deep and wide." Whether going wide to get to the deep or realizing in the deep a wider connectivity to all nature are the two paths often used my the mystics, kataphatic and apophatic. I was once told that one of the comforting offerings to the Japanese in hospitals after the bombings of WWII was a growing green plant. Comfort was drawn from seeing life going on and an awareness of that connection.


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