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Music: A Metaphor of Embodiment

Role of the Soul

Music: A Metaphor of Embodiment

The doing of inner work is a multi-faceted process here at the Chicago Center for Integrative Psychotherapy. In the following essays you will see how Dreamwork, Art-Making, Sandplay, and Active Imagination are forms of psychological potential for what inhabits the gap between experience, memory and language.

This nonverbal space can be hard to imagine, but I think clearer if we imagine this space through another art form, that of music. Now, when we think of music, let’s think reflectively… in terms of anthropology and the study of the very early reed instruments. We can actually experience the folk rhythms in a life long ago, not only by listening to this ancient flute --but by hearing the architecture of music in our own experience of being, or embodiment.

When we trot, run or breathe, we experience our body’s rhythm in our heart rate and pulse. The rhythm of our body at work can be felt as tempo, the speed of our mind making connections. The dirge of loss and sorrow, even the slow moving problems and their resolution can be dramatic, operatic and sadly, fatalistic.

Another way of perceiving this archetypal root is through observing the changes of phrasing and cadence our voice reflects when we are excited, elated or sad.  A musical crescendo comes with a sense of satisfaction punctuating experience, we call it, the ‘ah-ha moment’ and when we feel this, we understand something unknown before this experience, this time, this space/context.

I’m reminded of the body’s response to physical attraction, or a chest full of soaring feelings when you find yourself sinking a bucket shot. The pleasure of accomplishment, the completion of a project that has stretched imagination and abilities can punctuate the sense of self in an estimable manner. The swell of emotion in our chest as we return again to enjoy or to see -- what it is was, elementally that had been so effective …each time, a re-experiencing, re-enjoying satisfaction and esteem from each reflection.

These examples are similar to the nonverbal spaces of inner work.  The link of associations through the senses, the swell of emotion in our heart, the racing of our pulse when we are discovering something that might be an insightful understanding or the discovery of something we didn’t remember that we knew arrives in this gap between experience, memory, and language.

Paul Griffiths in “The Substance of Things Heard” is quoted below:

Music, so intimately engaged with perception, lights up the mind. Music being immaterial, touches on the immaterial -- the drift of thought and feeling, on divinity and death. Music as sound can represent the auditory world: the moan of the wind, the repeated whispers of calm waves or the call of birds. Music, as rhythm, can keep pace with our contemplative rest or our racing activity. As the idealized voice of the other, it can sing or sigh, laugh or weep. Music, proceeding through time can resemble our lives.

Yes, it does resemble our lives both individually and collectively. Our body’s ground is the place of archetypal potential, music can be a place where we observe something called the subtle body. These sorts of observations reignite our awareness of the sensual world we often feel cut off from through stress, anxiety, or a life full of demands. As you read through the various sections of the website you will notice the emphasis on play and creativity in my work and orientation.

Carl Jung, the first life stage theorist, differed greatly from Freud in his approach to consciousness and the issues related to the mind and body. Whereas Freud spoke about the importance of two distinct drives: sex, and aggression, Jung broke from this drive-based view by theorizing that there are many instinctual processes that pull toward development and maturation. Jung referred to this life long process as individuation, meaning the push and press of the individual toward greater wholeness and actualization.

So often in contemporary life the compression of time restraints and responsibility to others keep us distracted from the beauty of our sensual self and the enjoyment it adds to our life:  the array of gifts, whether it be sound, sight, oral, or the part of ourselves which touch the physical world and others in it.  These are the ways the body speaks. These modalities of inner work help us discover why the world wags and what wags it. Why we are in the world and why the world is in us. It’s a big world, are you curious?


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