Concepts Exercise

CRTW 201

Dr. Fike

Directions: Get into five small groups, however you like. Each group will need at least one copy of the exercise.

Here are three concepts:

·         Active imagination is an active dialogue. It is a “method of assimilating unconscious contents . . . through some form of self-expression” in order “to give a voice to sides of the personality . . . that are normally not heard, thereby establishing a line of communication between consciousness and the unconscious.” These forms of self-expression can include drawing, painting, writing, sculpture, dance, music, etc.” (Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon). Note that, for active imagination to work, it requires a diminution of reason and of disbelief.

·         Forest bathing is a Japanese technique that involves paying attention to sensory detail while one is in the forest. One is a passive receiver. Here is an excerpt from an article on forest bathing: “In 1982, the Forest Agency of the Japanese government premiered its shinrin-yoku plan. In Japanese shinrin means forest, and yoku, although it has several meanings, refers here to a ‘bathing, showering or basking in.’ More broadly, it is defined as ‘taking in, in all of our senses, the forest atmosphere.’ The program was established to encourage the populace to get out into nature, to literally bathe the mind and body in greenspace, and take advantage of public owned forest networks as a means of promoting health. Some 64 percent of Japan is occupied by forest, so there is ample opportunity to escape the megacities that dot its landscape ( 

·         A walk in the woods: Psyche is the focus, but the attitude is passive and meditative. One listens to whatever comes up and pays attention to inner processes.

10 minutes: Do an SEE-I for each of the concepts.

15 minutes: Below are twenty quotations. Start at the point marked by your group number. Decide which are active imagination, which are forest bathing, and which are a walk in the woods. After assigning concepts to your four quotations, work on as many others as you can in the time that remains. Be aware that some of the quotations do not fall neatly into a single category. Also, some of the quotations may be negations of one of the categories.

Group 1 starts here.

1.      “Trees in particular were mysterious and seemed to me direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason the woods were the place where I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings” (C. G. Jung, MDR).

2.     “Plants were bound for good or ill to their places. They expressed not only the beauty but also the thoughts of God’s world, with no intent of their own and without deviation”  (C. G. Jung, MDR).

3.     “Through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanized. Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him” (C. G. Jung, CW 18).

4.     “Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man’s life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbors a great demon” (C. G. Jung, CW 18).

Group 2 starts here.

5.     “Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants, and animals . . . His immediate communication with nature is gone forever, and the emotional energy it generated has sunk into the unconscious” (C. G. Jung, CW 18).

6.     “Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit . . . The lumen naturae [light of nature] is the natural spirit, whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious” (C. G. Jung, CW 18).

7.     “So far as we can see, the collective unconscious is identical with Nature to the extent that Nature herself, including matter, is unknown to us . . . In my opinion the collective unconscious is the preconscious aspect of things on the “animal” or instinctual level of the psyche” (C. G. Jung, Jung Letters).

8.     “For it is the body, the feeling, the instincts, which connect us with the soil. If you give up the past you naturally detach from the past, you lose your roots in the soil, your connection with the totem ancestors that dwell in your soil” (C. G. Jung, Zarathustra Seminar).

Group 3 starts here.

9.     “Natural life is the nourishing soil of the soul” (C. G. Jung, The Earth Has a Soul).

10.   “Nature is an incomparable guide if you know how to follow her” (C. G. Jung, The Earth Has a Soul).

11.    “I am fully committed to the idea that human existence should be rooted in the earth” (C. G. Jung, The Earth Has a Soul).

12.   “Whenever we touch nature we get clean. Walking in the woods, lying on the grass, taking a bath in the sea, are from the outside; entering the unconscious, entering yourself through dreams, is touching nature from the inside and this is the same thing, things are out right again” (C. G. Jung, Dream Analysis).

Group 4 starts here.

13.   “Once we stop taking trees literally, we begin to see how they frame the world we look at every minute of our outdoor life, how they set a limit to the upward reach of the land, and how, tall and branching, they stand like nature’s doubles of ourselves. If we stop to think about trees in our life, we begin to understand how fully capable they are of relatedness, intimacy, and meaning” (Thomas Moore, Re-Enchantment).

14.   “We can sit on a tree’s limb, rest against its trunk, enjoy its fruits and nuts, sit under its shade, and watch it dance in the wind. The lessons we can learn from a tree are infinite, and its pleasures indescribable” (Thomas Moore, Re-Enchantment).

15.   “There are moments in anyone’s life when to be like a tree—tall, straight, fertile, rooted, branching, expressive, and solid—would be the most effective therapy” (Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life).

16.   “Conversing with a tree, we are not talking to ourselves or 'projecting' in a psychological sense; nature can receive our thoughts and feelings, and often we may find some solution, or at least a fresh way of seeing matters, after consulting a tree” (Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life).

Group 5 starts here.

17.    “The soul of the tree overlaps with my own soul, so that we are more than siblings, indeed saplings, as we share the same air and space” (Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life).

18.   “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet).

19.    “This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself . . .” (Chief Seattle).

20.   “But perhaps the reason for this love of nonhuman nature is that communion with it restores us to a level of our own human nature at which we are still sane, free from humbug, and untouched by anxieties about the meaning and purpose of our lives” (Alan Wattes).

10 minutes: Report to the class how you applied the three concepts to your group’s four quotations. Did other groups get different answers? Why was that?

10 minutes: Now answer the following elements-based questions.

Group 1 starts here.

·        What seems to be the point of view of the person who put together the twenty quotations? What point of view do the quotations convey?

·        What does the compiler’s overall purpose seem to be?

Group 2 starts here.

·        Formulate a question at issue for the twenty quotations.

Group 3 starts here.

·        What assumptions underlie the quotations, especially regarding nature?

·        What implications and consequences arise from the quotations?

Group 4 starts here.

·        What information is present in the quotations?

Group 5 starts here.

·        What overall conclusions and interpretations do you take away from the quotations?

For the rest of the period, share with the whole class what you learned from applying the elements.


Acknowledgement: This exercise is adapted from a workshop by Marta Koontz at the 2015 conference of the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies.