Transpersonal Psychology is often referred to the study of the self-transcendent or the spiritual nature of the human experience. In essence, it “is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness” (Lavoie & Shapiro). As Walsh suggests, transpersonal experiences often includes experiences that reach beyond an identifiable self to encompass a broader aspect of humankind, life, the psyche, or the cosmos. The incorporation of transpersonal psychology is often utilized in exploring altered states of consciousness, such as peak experiences or spiritual awareness. Such phenomenon have proven to be highly transformative in nature and contribute to the full expression of who we already are.
Meditation is probably the most used transpersonal practice of all time. Meditation is essentially a method for training attention and exploring the mind. This is not just the thinking mind, which is a small part of our whole consciousness, for meditation addresses our hearts, emotions, perceptions, and other levels of mental states as well. Most people in contemporary life spend their time dealing with the demands of their external activities, such as their family and work, their thinking, or their emotional life. Rarely is there private time in which to stop the flow of thought and feeling, and to focus attention on deeper parts of the self.
Transpersonal psychology uses positive influences, rather than the diseased human psyche and our defenses, as a model for the realization of human potential.
Transpersonal Psychotherapy emphasizes individual development in the following way:
- Fosters integration to develop a whole person landscape.
- It acknowledges the fundamental human spiritual quest
- It recognizes the universal longing for unity, ultimate truth, and profound freedom
- It cultivates intuitive ways of knowing that complement rational and sensory modes.
- It recognizes the potential for growth inherent in “peak” experiences and other shifts in consciousness.
Resources Related to Transpersonal Psychology
Boorstein, S. (Ed.). (1996). Transpersonal psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University
of New York Press.
Grof, Stanislav (1998). The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness. Albany, New York: State University of New York (SUNY) Press.
Nelson, J. (2007). Psychology, religion, and spirituality. New York: New York: Springer.
Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (Eds.) (1993). Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision.
Los Angeles: J.T. Tarcher. (Entire text) ISBN: 0-87477-678-3