Matriotism and America Dreams: An Interview with Minh Tran

Posted by Angela Borda on Jun 2, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Minh Tran is a Ph.D. student in Pacifica’s Depth Psychology program, as well as being a licensed family therapist. He has been selected to be a featured artist in the Artist Spotlight at LACPA. The featured project he was selected for is “America Dreams,” an intellectual musical exploring matriotism and social artistry. I’m delighted to talk with Minh about his project:

Angela: What can we look forward to in “America Dreams,” the presentation you will be giving on June 6th for the LACPA?

Minh: It’s a choreographed essay with its roots in a presentation I made for a course at Pacifica in Cultural Psychology, on America and social justice. That was the genesis. The Spotlight series the LACPA has this year, reached out to me to see if I wanted to elaborate more on the topic and present more on what “America Dreams” is about. The origin of the choreographed essay was inspired by a music video of a Vietnamese singer who was choreographing with her hands. I was so inspired by it. And at the gym, one fine morning, my active imagination was at work, and I started to think about my essay and my hands just started moving, and it started to look good, and I just went along with it. So the hand movements were new to me, but they are choreographed movements. In my clinical practice, I work with kids also, and I started experimenting with elaborating with my hands like puppets, and it became natural. I started paying more attention to hand gestures as a form of communication during telehealth sessions. On a conscious level I was drawing inspiration from Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Milton H. Erickson, the “wizard of the desert.” His form of hypnotherapy widens what we think of as hypnotherapy.

My intention is to queer the line between edification and entertainment. I hope people who experience “America Dreams” walk away entertained, inspired, and moved on some level, as we are by a great concert or movie. But I want people to also think deeply about topics of the times. I want the art to speak to the times.

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, creativity, depth psychology, individuation, immigration

The Psychosomatic Experience of Communism in România: An Interview with Pacifica’s Mădălina Bortes, A Fulbright Semifinalist

Posted by Angela Borda on Apr 29, 2021 11:00:00 AM

Mădălina Bortes, M.A. is currently at Pacifica in the Ph.D. in Depth Psychology program with a specialization in Somatic Studies. Her work covers “the psychosomatic experience of communism in România.” She has been nominated as a semi-finalist in the Fulbright program, and I’m delighted to be speaking with her.

Angela: Thank you for talking with me. How does your personal life story and background intersect with communism in România, and what inspired you to take that as your research topic?

Mădălina: It is a true pleasure. Thank you for asking me to do this. I was born in Sibiu, România, a very culturally vibrant city in the Transylvania area. It is one of those cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and human-sized windows kind of a city. I was born just after the revolution, so I did not experience life in România during communism, and I did not hear about communism while growing up, there or in the U.S., which is where we moved after I'd finished the second grade. Communism was not an avoided topic, as it can be for some people; it was simply never mentioned. The absence of meaning-making, or the absence of “lustration,” as some post-communist scholars note, fascinated me. Whenever I spoke with anyone who'd experienced life in România during communism, such as my family members and their friends, I was awestruck by the great degree of flippancy they expressed about their lived experience. Everyone mentioned electricity limits, perpetually long lines, canned food for breakfast, and a lifestyle that resembled the days after a particularly severe natural disaster. However, no one seemed very affected by what they'd lived through, for ten, twenty, even thirty years; and more than this, everyone offered the same response to my naive question of how it was that they'd genuinely believed such a lifestyle was normal, was the only way of living. Everyone I'd asked said, "It was all we knew," and this greatly intrigued me.

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, somatic bodywork, depth psychology, Somatic Studies

LSD and the Mind of the Universe: An Interview with Christopher M. Bache

Posted by Angela Borda on Apr 19, 2021 5:06:43 PM

Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D. is an accomplished teacher as well as researcher in “the philosophical implications of non-ordinary states of consciousness, particularly psychedelic states.” He will be the keynote speaker of the upcoming Pacifica Conference, “Accessing the ineffable: Depth Psychology, Religious Experience, and the Further Reaches of Consciousness,” on June 19, 2021. Click here for more information. I’m delighted to find out more about his research and the conference.

Angela: The title of the workshop is “Accessing the Ineffable.” And your talk will be on “LSD and the Mind of the Universe: The Challenges and Blessings of an Extreme Psychedelic Journey.” How has LSD helped you to access the ineffable, or as you say in the book, allowed you to journey “into a unified field of consciousness that underlies all physical existence”? How did you first get involved, and are you glad you took the trip?

Chris: Yes, I’m very glad I took this journey, though I also want to say that it was the most demanding undertaking of my life.

I began my psychedelic work in 1979 when I was 30 years old. I was just out of graduate school from Brown University where I had trained as a philosopher of religion, finishing my studies as an atheistically-inclined agnostic. I was looking for where to take my research next when I read Stan Grof’s Realms of the Human Unconscious. I immediately saw the relevance of his work to the core questions I had been trained to pursue as a philosopher–whether life has meaning or purpose, whether human beings survive death, and whether there is a conscious intelligence operating in the universe. I saw that with the advent of psychedelics, the deepest contributions to my discipline would be made by persons writing out of an experiential basis, not just an intellectual basis, and I felt a deep calling to do this work. (My Saturn Return marked a number of seminal transitions in my life: from student to professor, from book learning to experiential learning, from agnosticism to psychedelic initiation.)

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, soul, depth psychology, meditation, The Retreat at Pacifica

Accessing the Ineffable with Santo Daime: An Interview of William Barnard, Ph.D.

Posted by Angela Borda on Mar 29, 2021 2:51:16 PM

Professor William Barnard, Ph.D. will be giving a talk on “The Religious Use of Psychedelics: The Santo Daime” in the upcoming Pacifica conference “Accessing the Ineffable: Depth Psychology, Religious Experience, and the Further Reaches of Consciousness” on June 19, 2021. This conference will bring together an eclectic group of scholars to investigate to mysterious elements at the foundation of Jungian depth psychology – “consciousness” and the expansive potentialities of a non-local “unconscious.” For more information on this event, please click here. [https://retreat.pacifica.edu/accessing-the-ineffable/] I was delighted to spend time talking with Bill and learning more about his research and experiences.

Angela: You are a professor of religious studies, and will be presenting a talk on the use of psychedelics in religion, in particular, the Santo Daime, which you describe as “a relatively new religion that emerged out of the Amazon rainforest region of Brazil in the middle of the twentieth century and which now has churches throughout the world; a religion in which a psychedelic brew – ayahuasca – is taken as a sacrament.” For those who are not familiar with ayahuasca, can you tell us the basics of where it comes from, what it is, and how the experience of ingesting would lead people to consider it a sacrament?

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, soul, depth psychology, meditation, The Retreat at Pacifica

Healing Intergenerational Trauma through Collective Mourning: An Interview with Pacifica’s own Heesun Kim, a Fulbright semi-finalist

Posted by Angela Borda on Mar 24, 2021 3:25:38 PM

Heesun Kim is a bright presence in our Ph.D. program for Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices, where her studies focus “on exploring the critical connections between psychology, spirituality, and holistic healing practices.” She has recently been honored as a semi-finalist in the Fulbright program. Many alumni of the program have gone on to become winners of the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize, as well as serving as heads of state. Heesun’s proposal is titled “Jeju Shamanism: Healing Intergenerational Trauma through Collective Mourning” and I’m delighted to discuss it with her.

Angela: Heesun, thank you so much for talking with me. You’ve said that your Fulbright project, if accepted, would “focus on how Jeju shamanism addresses intergenerational trauma and collective mourning as a community healing practice.” Please tell us a little bit about Jeju shamanism and how it intersects with your own family history in Korea. Is it a topic you found during your studies at Pacifica or is it something you’ve been aware of for a long while?

Heesun: Thank you for inviting me, Angela. Jeju is a beautiful island located in the southern part of South Korea. Unlike most of the mainland Korean regions, which have nearly lost their shamanic tradition due to rapid industrialization and western influences, Jeju Island still preserves the shamanic tradition through myths, folksongs, and oral traditions in rituals. The island has a tragic history of a massacre between 1948 and 1954; approximately 30,000 civilians were killed when Korean authorities and right-wing vigilantes, with the US military's compliance and oversight, brutally suppressed a popular uprising.  

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, creativity, soul, depth psychology

Integration: Chinese Medicine, Somatic Studies, and Depth Psychology

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 22, 2017 10:48:38 AM

Integration: Chinese Medicine, Somatic Studies, and Depth Psychology. An Interview with Brian Falk
A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Chinese medicine has a long history based in a philosophical tradition, with its roots in Daoism, and later, Confucianism. Above all, it's essentially a system that's rooted in nature, explains Brian Falk, who has a clinical practice in Chinese medicine, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Somatic Studies at Pacifica.

The Chinese spent thousands of years developing a very comprehensive way of looking at humans in relationship to the cosmos, therefore, Chinese medicine can also be viewed as a type of cosmology, Falk notes. The way in which the Chinese conceptualize disease and health has a very different philosophical frame than that of Westerners. Using primary treatment tools like acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, and cupping, Chinese medicine differentiates itself from allopathic medicine in the sense that it focuses on maintaining health and preventing illness.

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Posted in: The Psyche, Connecting Cultures, depth psychology, images, dreams, somatic, the body

Photography and Writing: Into the Heart of Traditional Cultures in Times of Global Change

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 7, 2017 9:41:44 PM

Photography: Into the Heart of Traditional Cultures in Times of Global Change. An Interview with Writer and Photographer, Michael Benanav, M.A. A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Michael Benanav is a critically-acclaimed writer and photographer who has traveled to a lot of places that are well off the beaten path, often finding himself in remote mountains and landscapes, walking, being in nature, and living quite simply. There, in the wilderness, he often runs into nomads, and he quickly became fascinated by their way of life. Benanav, whose work has appeared in publications like The New York Times, Geographical Magazine, Lonely Planet Guidebooks, and CNN.com, was naturally drawn to spending time with them.

These profoundly archetypal lifestyles inevitably appear in Benanav’s work. In his first book, a travel narrative entitled Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold (2008), he joined one of the last working camel caravans in the world, which runs an ancient salt trading route in the Sahara desert in Mali. Leaving Timbuktu, the route veers 500 miles north into the vast desert to salt mines located “in the middle of nowhere,” hundreds of miles away from any village. There's no electricity, no telephone; not even fresh water, Benanav reports.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Connecting Cultures, Ecopsychology, art, indigenous psychology

Racism, Cultural Violence, and Conscious Change: How The Truth Telling Project is Transforming Society

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on May 12, 2017 2:09:18 PM

Racism, Cultural Violence, and Conscious Change: How The Truth Telling Project is Transforming Society
An Interview with The Truth Telling Project Co-Founder, David Ragland, Ph.D.
A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Historic African American Malcolm X, leader who spoke out for black nationalism famously said, 'I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against.” This quote, featured on the home page for The Truth Telling Project speaks volumes about the mission of this unique and important organization.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Connecting Cultures, Pacifica Events, Social Justice, community psychology

Peace Corps Meets Pacifica: Cultivating, Counseling, and Stories from Cameroon

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on May 4, 2017 11:13:04 PM

Peace Corps Meets Pacifica: Cultivating, Counseling, and Stories from Cameroon An Interview with Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Courtney McCubbin
A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Nothing can substitute for experience as a way of knowing. It serves as a powerful initiation process that begins the moment you put your foot on a particular path. This appears to be the case for Courtney McCubbin, who served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon in Africa from 2001 to 2005. While McCubbin struggled mightily to learn French in order to communicate with the people there, a task that frequently brought her to tears, she took comfort her deep desire to help people, and threw herself into projects in reforestation, agroforestry, and agronomy, which contributed to the healing of the forests and the farmers there who needed help.

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Posted in: Counseling Psychology, Connecting Cultures, C.G. Jung, Ecopsychology, graduate school, depth psychology, active imagination

Peace Corps Meets Pacifica: Stories from Romania

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Apr 5, 2017 4:22:15 PM

Peace Corps Meets Pacifica: Stories from Romania, An Interview with Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Erin O’Halloran
A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Erin O’Halloran grew up watching Peace Corps commercials on TV which featured footage of volunteers serving in Africa and young children in grass hut houses. Even though the images were somewhat romanticized, the pull toward a life of service was always strong for her, and she always knew it was something she wanted to do.

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Posted in: Connecting Cultures, community psychology, graduate school, depth psychology