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What is Processwork?

Welcome to The Edge, a blog about Processwork in all its applications and manifestations.  As a practice and theory of human experience, those applications are unlimited and as varied as all the individuals and groups who make use of it.  I hope these posts, by Processworkers in different walks of life all over the world, will draw you in and inspire you to discover how Processwork can support growth, creativity and communication in your own life and work.

By Elva Redwood, Managing Editor, The Edge

History of Processwork

Processwork originally grew from Jungian psychology in the 1970s and 80s, when Arnold Mindell practiced at the Jung Institute in Zurich.  Dr. Mindell’s deep curiosity and work with people on body symptoms led him to broaden the dreamwork approach and explore different sensory channels.  Processwork was born as one of the first psychologies to integrate somatic experiences, and has since grown far beyond psychology in its scope.

The group of students drawn to study with Dr. Mindell became a dynamic community who helped him creatively; to teach, apply research, and elaborate on his theory and practice of Processwork.  The discipline continues to develop and is taught with the understanding that each Processworker will make it their own and contribute their own expertise and discoveries to the whole.  This original community has grown into a global association of practitioners and schools, both those without official Processwork credentials, and those with a Diploma in Processwork and affiliated with the International Association of Process Oriented Psychologists (IAPOP).

Influences on Processwork

Since its beginnings, Processwork has been shaped by many indigenous cultures’ wisdom, to which we all owe so much.  Most notably the Indigenous Australian knowledge of Dreamtime and the Chinese philosophy and practices of Taoism are fundamental to seeing the world through a Processwork lens.

Processwork Theory

The theory itself is elegant in its simplicity and application to any aspect of life.  As well as a tool for individual personal growth, Processwork’s model for identity and experience is equally useful for relationships and groups, both small and large, and any kind of conflict work.

Processwork understands human experience as a dreaming process which unfolds through sensory channels.  Our experiences are alive in Consensus (everyday) Reality as well as Dreamland – aspects of experience which are subjective and not necessarily agreed upon in a given culture.  At the deepest level, consciousness and reality spring from Essence, birthed and mediated by Process Mind, which is analogous to the ancient Chinese understanding of the Tao Which Cannot Be Said.

Channels

The simple channels of experience are visual, auditory, proprioceptive and movement.  Composite channels are made up of these simple ones and include relationship and world.  We are constantly receiving and emitting information in all these channels, though we are only aware of some of that information.

Primary and Secondary Processes

The information we are aware of and identify with comprises our “primary process,” the person or group we understand ourselves to be.  Information that we don’t identify with, which is often problematic in one or more channels, is connected to our “secondary process,” something outside our usual identity, which we are growing to become.

Edges

Between these primary and secondary processes is the phenomenon called the Edge.  It is our growing point, guarded by conscious and unconscious belief systems and contributing to misunderstandings and conflicts on all levels.

Attention to this dynamic of identity increases self-awareness, and therefore gives access to more choices of action.  Exploration and integration of secondary material leads to temporary resolution, eases difficulties, and opens a path to the next phase of growth.

Processwork is Useful Everywhere

Processworkers everywhere use this empowering paradigm to facilitate growth and creativity in uncounted spheres.  From individual psychology and inner work, relationships and families, Processwork has found rich applications in coaching, organizational development, and large-scale conflicts.  One of the most exciting applications for our troubled times is World Work, where hundreds of people meet to work on global issues. There are also dancers, painters, writers and musicians using Processwork in creating and performing their arts.  Teachers apply the theory in the classroom, and nurses use it in the OR.  Anywhere there are humans, Processwork can be useful.

To find out more from these individuals, please read on in The Edge.

If you’d like to explore deeper, visit the Processwork Institute Bookstore and public manuscripts pages, check out Arny and Amy Mindell’s website at http://www.aamindell.net/, find a school or workshop near you at IAPOP, and take a class, or contact an individual practitioner.

Thank you for visiting us at The Edge!

 

by Elva Redwood, MA, PW Dipl., Managing Editor

Elva Wolf Redwood is a Processwork Diplomate practicing with individuals, couples and groups in Portland, Oregon, USA, and on-line.  She is a writer and a lover of dogs, fermented foods and knitting.  She is drawn particularly to work with artists, activists, culture changers and anyone addressing developmental trauma.

 

From Recovery to Discovery in Extreme States

By John Herold

I was in fourth grade when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.  From that moment I wanted to be an astronaut. There was something about racing into space as well as the inherent risks in trying that held a strong appeal.  By the time the shuttle Discovery was retired in 2011, I assumed my space career was over.

I Didn’t Expect My Wish to Come True

Looking back, that 10-year-old aspiring astronaut wasn’t very specific about exactly where he wanted to travel.  Outer space or inner space?  And by what means?

In December of 2012 that childhood wish came true in an unexpected and disturbing way.  My trip to the stars happened not on the space shuttle, but in an extreme state of consciousness.

Like a rocket I swiftly developed a huge amount of energy, skipping sleep for five days.  No longer in the reality most of us can agree is happening, I felt like an alien visitor.  I experienced everything anew from a symbolic, unified and deeply interconnected perspective.  The familiar John who didn’t believe in mysticism, numerology and spirituality receded into the background.  All that remained was this steeply unfamiliar part of me.

This New Part Was Full of Surprises

During this time I began to hear bells that those around me don’t hear.  The bells answer some questions yes or no, and have helped me in countless ways, though they don’t respond when I ask them directly.  Crisp and beautiful, they have never led me astray.  They are messages from a trusted companion.

It was also during this time that numbers began to speak to me in extraordinary ways.  I first noticed them at 12:12pm on 12/12/12.  Such sequences have occurred hundreds of times since, and they are now a regular part of my life.

My car’s odometer reading 9999.9 on 9/9/18 on my way to a Hearing Voices Network facilitator’s training

The Astronaut in Me Needed Support

Just as traveling to space is risky and expensive, so are extreme states.  Though the energy, bells, sensations and numbers are magical to me, my behavior at the end of 2012 was deeply disturbing to almost everyone else.  I spoke quickly and forcefully using language that was difficult to understand.  I was in everyone’s face.  I spent all my money.  I held unusual beliefs.  I had trouble describing my state of mind.  I appeared to be out of control.

Eventually, in response to pressure from people around me, I found my way to the emergency room.  There, my experience was seen in a different light; as a mental illness.  Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was held against my will and coercively drugged.  I was told my experience needed to go away and that I would require medication for life.  The newly arrived part of me had been pathologized – viewed as a sign of sickness.  This began a war between the old and new parts of myself.

It’s painful to fall down from a spiritual emergence to a diagnosis of mental illness.  Traumatic memories of being trapped, powerful tranquilizers and strident assertions from mental health professionals made it very hard for me to access the newfound mystical features in my life.  By August of 2013 I no longer wanted to live.

A Reaction to Psychiatric Oppression

Many believe depression automatically follows mania.  But in my experience, depression was a response to psychiatric oppression.  This oppression was so powerful, I internalized it.  I agreed that my energy and experiences the previous year were symptoms to be managed, medicated and ultimately discarded.

Processwork Views My Extreme State as Valuable

At my innermost core I knew there was something valuable about my experience, but I felt alone with it.  This is why, when I found Processwork, firstly through Will Hall, and then through Gary Reiss, it was so incredibly refreshing. Viewed through Processwork, my extreme state was no longer a sickness.   

When I shared my experience with Gary, he welcomed it, saying:

“You obviously have a lot of creative energy.  I believe the magic you experienced was real.  Do you want to ride this horse, make meaning and share that meaning with the world?”

I had found an ally who agreed with my innermost perception.

I Signed up for the Masters in Process Oriented Facilitation

The first night of the MAPOF program almost two years later was another defining moment for me.  As I introduced myself, I half-pathologized my own experience, saying I had been to Pluto.  After I shared my story, my new cohort mate, Camille Dumond, responded:

“John, we want you to go to Pluto!  And when you go, remember what you find so that when you come back, you can share it with us.”  

This open and accepting attitude brought me to tears.  

I Had Found My Astronaut School

Processwork has helped me welcome my mystical experiences rather than extinguish them.  It has given me a powerful framework and practical tools for navigating and integrating all my parts.

Today I’m no longer in an extreme state, and the mystical part of me that came forward so suddenly in 2012 never left.  I take note of the synchronicities in my life, and when the bells talk, I listen.  But also present is the familiar part I’ve known for most of my life.

As Gary has said to me:

“John – try being a little psychotic all the time!”

Using Better Language

I’ve never liked the word recovery because it implies altered and extreme states are a sickness we must recover from.  Recovery also implies we need to cover up (re-cover) newly emerged parts of ourselves in order to get well.

Instead of re-covering, I opt to rid myself of the cover altogether.  I now choose to dis-cover, and allow all my parts a chance to live.

I’m Not in Recovery – I’m in Discovery

Like the space shuttle.

 

To learn more, you can watch John’s webinar on Processwork and Extreme States.

 

By John Herold, MA

John Herold is a facilitator, speaker and trainer from Gig Harbor, Washington.  He is the founder and director of Puget Sound Hearing Voices, now in its fourth year of weekly meetings.  John’s work is deeply influenced by his personal lived experience with extreme states and psychiatric survival, his involvement with the Hearing Voices Network as well as his master’s training in Processwork.  He is passionate about spreading non-pathologizing ways of understanding experiences often labeled as mental illness.  In 2017 John received an Inspirational Person Award from Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Network.

 

Photo credit: pixabay.com

Arnold Mindell: Fall 2018

Join Dr. Arnold Mindell on Sept 21 and Sept 28 3.30-6.30pm, for his Fall 2018 classes!  

Everyone feels troubled at one time or another by body symptoms, and inner problems! These experiences are often connected to medical, personal, social and historical issues.  Solutions are crucial but not always sustainable.  This Fall, Arny will be teaching a new “Flow-oriented Inner work” to creatively help both Body and Internal problems.  Find out more …

See also evening case supervision September 21st, 7.30pm, where Dr Mindell provides live supervision on case presentations by participants. 

Winter Intensive 2019! January 20th – February 21st, 2019

Join us for the 34th Annual Intensive Course in Process WorkJanuary 20th – February 21st, 2019 … Come learn with us to listen to signals we see in everyday reality and in the world of darkness of the night, that means, from our dreams and pre-dream experiences.

The course offers a unique opportunity to learn Process Work in an intensive format and within an international group setting. The course includes Process Work’s many applications and its most recent developments, and it is designed as an adult learning event. Participants will learn and study together by means of theory, experiential exercises, and group processes. Since the course attracts students from many nationalities, ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds, issues such as multiculturalism, diversity, and community building are part of the learning experience.

 

Master of Art in Process-Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies – next cohort Fall 2018 find out more

The MA in Process-oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies (MAPOF) teaches students to facilitate inner psychology and world problems. Our graduates work in leadership, organizations, counseling, coaching, and as mediators and facilitators in community and global contexts. Our vision is to teach people how to relate to themselves and each other, even amongst difficult conflicts, polarities, and moods. Our experienced faculty, including founders Arny and Amy Mindell, have experience ranging from depth psychology to large organizational consulting, to war zones, and offer students unique training in methods for working with the interconnectivity of personal problems and world problems.

Awareness, Power, and Process Oriented Activism

Join Stan Tomandl and Ann Jacob to explore loving detachment while surrounded by difficult situations for our environment, fellow humans, and our own hopes and dreams. A deep look inward at attitudes and beliefs: how we activate, and don’t activate, ourselves in the midst of internal and external power struggles. For those interested in social and environmental justice and the art of eldership. Register online!

Congratulations MAPOF 1!

Our wonderful MAPOF 1 cohort will be celebrating their graduation today, May 25th. Their Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Process Work Institute from 5 pm to 7:30 pm followed immediately by a Reception with food, drinks, music, and socializing.

We invite everyone to join us for this very special occasion to celebrate this cohort and honor their journey these last two years. All of us at PWI look forward to seeing you there!!
 
Please contact meghan.green@processwork.org with any questions. 

The Role of Education in Government

On May 20th and May 27th join Arny Mindell for afternoon and evening courses at PWI. In these classes participants will be studying how education influences, or can determine future governments. Evening classes are supervisions of individual, group, and organizational situations. 

The Facilitator’s “Cracked Pot” and Unique Style

Join Amy Mindell Ph.D. in exploring the facilitator’s “cracked pot”. That is, the unique gifts hidden within learning difficulties or moments when you are not able to use your skills. The class is geared toward new and advanced therapists, facilitators, coaches, teachers, or helpers.  Through discussion and exercises, we’ll discover how your unique nature creates your deepest facilitator style, the “metaskills” that bring your skills to life, and renewed creativity for your work.

Check out the new Faculty VLog: What’s the Process?

Introducing a new feature to the Process Work Institute website: What’s the Process? The Process Work Institute Faculty Vlog. This vlog will feature videos by faculty at the PWI addressing questions relevant to all aspects of Process Work including body symptoms, organizational work, counseling and more. Have a look and don’t forget to bookmark!

What’s the Process? The Process Work Institute Faculty Vlog