“The reflection, the verisimilitude, of life that shines in the fleshly cells from the soul source is the only cause of man’s attachment to his body; obviously he would not pay solicitous homage to a clod of clay. A human being falsely identifies himself with his physical form because the life currents from the soul are breath-conveyed into the flesh with such intense power that man mistakes the effect for a cause, and idolatrously imagines the body to have life of its own.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi
Exploring the spiritual aspects of the human experience is Diane Light, a psychotherapist, counselor and an author. In an interview with her she talks more about transpersonal psychology, which transcends an individual and views the human psyche in a broader spiritual context that can help an individual see their inner capabilities and achieve their greatest potential.
According to Diane, “Only we can heal ourselves. Operating under the illusion that a Doctor who is “well” is the keeper of the keys to our health is, in reality, part of the problem.” Here’s more from Diane –
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what drew you to psychology, how did you start and where are you now in the field?
For as far back as childhood I have always found people and what makes them tick fascinating. For whatever reason (maybe it’s the Irish in me) I have been able to see and understand where people are coming from–what the motives are behind the actions.
That includes people of all ages. In High School I fell in love with Shakespeare– his words, yes, but also his insight into human behavior.
I became a HS English teacher. But the students emotional concerns and struggles drew me into a Graduate degree in Counseling. That was many years ago. After working as a mental health agency counselor and as both inpatient and outpatient hospital counselor for a number of years, I’ve been in private practice since 1989.
It was in working with people in private practice that my psycho-spiritual psychology theory formulated. It came to me in “inspired” chunks. Eventually I realized that I had a fully developed revolutionary new personality theory. It is one that is in sync with our modern needs.
It is a theory with methods that work. People who learn and apply this breakthrough psychology gain Self Mastery. They change. They feel differently about themselves and about others in their lives.
It is very powerful when understood and applied. So I began to write a book. The outline for it came in one “inspired” chunk one August afternoon in 1998. The first chapter had been outlined in 1988. Back then I thought it was the entire book. But I had to wait many years for the full theory to emerge.
The book was finally published in September of 2011. Today I am still in private practice in the DC area, and I do phone sessions with people. My heart is in promoting awareness of this amazing “Inspired Teaching” that has the potential to help many people.
There are many paths. What many call “Psychology With Soul” is synergistic with many of them and is said to be a path to awakening in its own right.
2. Tell us a little bit about some of your peak experiences?
I can actually remember the feeling of the cold spoon on my cheek scraping this food that missed my mouth as my mother fed me in my high chair. I remember my crib, and the cold linoleum floor of our house on Riverside Place. We moved from there when I was a toddler.
My first Peak Experience that I remember was in the second house we lived in on Sawyer Street. I was three and was playing outside on a warm day. I was at the side of our neighbor’s house and gazing at the vines that were climbing up the green clapboard. There were little orange pumpkin/lantern like “flowers” and I liked looking at them.
Suddenly it was as if a tiny door opened in the vines on the side of the house and a tiny man appeared. He was in orange and has long black hair. He smiled at me and somehow I “knew him.” I thought nothing of it at the time.
Years later, when I was about 11, I would see his picture in advertisements in magazines. It always seemed as if he was somehow really there looking at me with his amazing eyes and beautiful smile. I loved looking at his picture and felt comfort from it.
Years later, as an adult someone gave me a copy of the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. It was Him–the same sweet man–the same loving face that I had met and seen as a child. Needless to say, I read the book! It changed my life. There have been many other mystical experiences. I’m considering putting them in a future book.
3. Could you define transpersonal psychology and how is it different from practiced psychology?
Transpersonal Psychology is a part of the Fourth Wave of Psychology. William James, the father of American Psychology, was the first to use the term Transpersonal Psychology in his notes as a Harvard professor. The new psychology that I write about and practice is a fully developed system of transformation that moves Transpersonal Psychology to the next level with a more hands on approach to Self Mastery.
When I began practicing as a psychotherapist I placed most of my confidence in the work of Freud, Adler, and others of the psycho-dynamic analytical school.
In my own work and in work with clients I began to recognize that Freud and his strict followers were looking at a very narrow definition of the human psyche.
Personality Integration Psychology, which is the actual name of my Inspired Theory, defines the parts in the psyche in significantly different new ways. This “Psychology With Soul” insists we have within the power to heal our “Lower Parts” and only can achieve this by developing the “Inspired Self” Part.
Only we can heal ourselves. Operating under the illusion that a Doctor who is “well” is the keeper of the keys to our health is, in reality, part of the problem. We heal ourselves. But we must first begin to see ourselves differently from the way our culture sees us.
5. Have you interacted with people who suffer with problems with psychoactive drugs? Assuming these people have peak experiences, how does this lead to say ‘lsd psychosis’?
I guess what I would say about psychoactive drugs is that they do not ever impact the whole person. They affect only the Lower Parts. There may be a place for their use with some individuals if the Lower Parts have too strong a hold. i.e. if Fear is too much in control (always because of abuse and/or trauma).
As to psychedelics, what is becoming apparent is that many of the breakthroughs in various fields have come from individuals who loosened the hold of convention on their thinking. In other words, psychedelics may well open the psyche to more divergent thinking.
I personally have never seen a case of LSD psychosis. According to Stanislav Grof, a leading Transpersonal psychologist, such an experience is actually an experience of Spiritual Crisis.
I believe that Transpersonal Psychologies are the way of the future. As we come to understand more and more that we are not just our bodies, but rather that we are consciousness itself having a physical experience science and spirituality become highly compatible.
Quantum Theory, String Theory, etc. are scientifically disproving the solidity of matter. As our individual consciousness expands it affects the mass consciousness. We are all connected in consciousness. I like the book The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. It is a great summation of new thinking. And it is making its way more and more into the mass culture.
7. Tell us about your book the way out and what does it aspire to do?
This Way Out: The Power to Change offers tools to take people from wherever they are on their path to awakening to full creativity. According to this theory, we are in the Self Development Phase of Evolution of our Species. In the next phase, the Creativity Phase, we will each be fully awake and thriving.
We will each be free to tap into the amazing Creative Flow- – what Julia Cameron calls the Vein of Gold. As above, so below. We are said to be made in the image of the Creator. We are meant to be creators.
It was given Best of 2012 Award by Kirkus in three categories including Spirituality and Self Help. So, in a nutshell, This Way Out aspires to help us set us Free. For those of you who are interested can also buy Diane’s book This Way Out:The Power to Change.