Friday, December 6, 2013

The New Age Movement and Gestalt Psychology

The New Age Movement and Gestalt Psychology

November 29, 2012

An Updated version of this article is available at:

At the beginning of November I embarked on a journey down to North Carolina to attend a ‘consciousness festival’ called 3 Days of Light (3DL). The festival lasted for three days of insightful learning. This camp’s focus was the evolution of consciousness through various ‘new age’ topics such as energy healing (reiki), yoga, and sacred geometry. Noticing the group dynamics, I took note of the many different types of personalities that were there to enjoy the full spectrum of seminars, meditation sessions, hula hoop and poi workshops, and let’s not forget, dancing. I also noticed that there were many philosophical and psychological discussions taking place. While those speaking may not have known the original theorists or text book names of the concepts, they held a deep understanding for how it applied to their lives. I will describe my experience at 3DL in relation to Gestalt principles.

The event revolved around the idea of consciousness. Those at 3DL held a dominant belief in collective consciousness and that, through this notion, we all have co-creative powers. In other words, our behavioral environment or individual subjective realities work together to create outcomes in the geographical environment. One of the guest speakers, Jordan of Spirit Science, said “...consciousness expansion, what does that mean? We are going to do work... going with in and looking at yourself” (Culliton, 2012). He was urging everyone to do introspection; to observe mental events as they occurred naturally in consciousness. This was accompanied with encouragement to “move from the heart space”. The heart space is a reference to the heart chakra located in the center of the chest at the heart level. The heart space can be compared to Lewin’s life space. Moving from this space would mean understanding the “totality of psychological facts that exist in one’s awareness at [that] given moment” and using this knowledge to operate for the good of all (Hergenhahn, p.485). To do introspection on mental events, in order to better understand one’s life space, and adjust behavior to perpetuate the meritorious nature of human kind is a motivation for meditation. The goal of the event was to “root love and light on the planet”, therefore all behavior at the event was extremely purposeful.

To spread this idea, a show called Paradigm Shift Radio was broadcasting live coverage of the event. On Saturday night, a panel of 11 young adults voiced their take on 3DL and the direction of human society. I was on this panel, and what we did was very similar to productive thinking. Productive thinking is “a type of thinking that ponders principles rather than isolated facts” in order to understand the solutions to problems instead of “memorizing a certain problem solving strategy or logical rules” (Hergenhahn, p.485). We discussed topics in relation to sensation and perception, eluding to the fact that the current reality we see is far more complex than we are lead to believe. We talked about the scientific extension of that statement, but also the perceptual aspect; that everyone sees the world from their own unique conscious experience, and this is significant. Like Kant’s faculties of mind states “consciousness is more than just sensory stimulation...[there] is a difference between perception and sensation...the world we perceive is different than the world we sense” (Hergenhahn, p.457). A consensus was reached that if everyone could comprehend, in some small way, how each other perceived the world around them, then a deeper discussion could take place about problems and, as a result, solutions could be found.

The world we sense is made up of colors and shapes, and how we perceive this world can be translated through art. Another guest speaker was Charles Gilchrist, an artist and philosopher who specializes in sacred geometry. He says that “the understanding of sacred geometry can be applied to anything in life [and] the root of sacred geometry is holistic...that’s the whole root, oneness” (Culliton, 2012). This statement is full of Gestalt ideology. First off, Mr. Gilchrist is a Holist, a person who believes that complex processes should be analyzed as a whole and not divided into parts. He expressed a belief that it is beneficial to look at how things interact as a whole. Second, his statement about oneness referrers to the belief that all things are connected or interrelated. This can be related to Mach’s space form concept where we experience ‘circleness’ no matter what conditions are present. At 3DL, people experienced ‘oneness’ in all events and people. In addition, his art uses many different shape forms. It causes the viewer, as Mach would say to recognize “the pattern not the individual dots” and that the “form is something that emerges from the elements of sensation” (Hergenhahn, p.459, p.458). Mr. Gilchrist’s artwork uses the principle of continuity (to perceive objects as following a predictable pattern) and the principle of inclusiveness (to perceive a larger figure when a smaller figure is embedded in it) to express this idea of oneness. He also made a statement in reference to perceptual constancy (the response to forms is the same even when experienced different ways), saying “shape, form is one of the sacred languages of the universe. [They] are omnipresent” (Culliton, 2012).

While at 3DL I learned many things about my self and others. The experience at the festival offered intrinsic reinforcement. Satisfaction was found in the various discussions and seminars that took place which helped to solve personal problems and reestablish a stable center of being. Put another way, quasi needs, as Lewin discusses, are those psychological needs which once taken care of reduce psychological tension (Hergenhahn, p.484). An example of a quasi need that was satisfied was the feeling of belonging or the desire for familial love. This was satisfied by copious amounts of hugs and small good deeds. This behavior had the purpose of rooting love in the human cognitive configuration. In conclusion, the Paradigm Shift Radio co-host, Brendon Culliton, gave a short speech in the trailer for his documentary about the event that ties in Gestalt principles. He says “As we move into our heart space, of being our authentic self. I think that’s the moment when we really realize that this is why we came here, this is why we are in this reality, this is why we chose to be here. Who we think we are is only a fragment of who we really are. Community, people coming together returning to that space of unity and truly understanding that we are not alone, and in fact, each one of us is a reflection of the whole” (Culliton, 2012). Showing that each human being has something valuable to offer as a fragment of this larger whole. This event left me feeling that when we focus on this larger whole we are able to work more diligently with each other, and on our inner-selves.


 Culliton, B. R. (Director). (2012). Journey to Rockmont: 3 Days of Light [Online video]. World Wide: YouTube. Retrieved November 17, 2012, from

Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An Introduction to the History of Psychology (Sixth ed., pp. 457-485). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Story to Bide Time- Ch.1

A Story to Bide Time

First Tense :: Chapter One 

"Who can know what the future holds.." she turned the crinkled page of the worn book, only to find it blank. 'Is this a joke', she thought as she turned to the next page and the next. 
Feeling crazy, she looked around the dusty second hand bookstore wondering if there was a camera on her recording this prank. The suns rays barely managed to stretch past the rug in the entryway. Dim fluorescent lights cast shadows beyond the rows of abandoned books yearning to be taken home and remembered. No one was in sight. Only the buzz of a small fan by the service counter accompanied her. Assuming the clerk must be in the back, she smiled and laughed under her breath as she flipped to the end of the book. Still no words. The book had no title engraved on the red binding. This had perked her interest and she felt pulled to open it. She read the single sentence again, out loud this time. "Who can know what the future holds," She shook her head, closed the book and reached to put it back upon the shelf. At that moment the door burst open. The service bell above it ringing out in agitation of being handled so aggressively. This was the moment her life changed. 
A young man about her age appeared and she observed him silently, finding him handsomely disheveled. Out of breath, he placed his hands on his knees, then sighed heavily and brushed off his blue jean pants. As he straightened, his jet black hair glistened as it caught the sun, a classic compliment to his dark jacket. Their eyes connected and neither said a word. His brown eyes held a calm yet stern honesty. He took a step towards her then another with a sultry confidence. For some reason she was frozen, her arm extended with the corner of the book resting on the shelf, unable to break eye contact with this abrupt stranger. Her mind was working, screaming for her to move like a normal person, yet, she felt content in letting the scene unfold. He did not break eye contact as he reached for the book in her hand. He stood only a few inches taller than she.
"I'll be taking that," He said coolly, "Thank you ma'dam, you've saved me a bit 'o trouble." His British accent was fake, she could tell, but it was good. His gentle smile dissipated and his brows knit together when he realized she would not let go.
Now she was curious, "I don't think so," she smirked and pulled the book from his grasp, shielding it behind her. Bouncing back a couple steps, she tossed her brown curls flirtatiously from her face."This book has one sentence. Only one. What good is it to you?"
He chuckled, regaining his cool composure, "That," He took a step forward, "is none of your concern."
"What's with the fake accent?" a playful tone in her voice.
"Come now, hand me the book and I'll be on my way." His voice was became stern, but he did not drop the accent.
He had sparked her curiosity the moment he had burst through the door. He wasn't leaving until her curiosity was satiated.
"Well you see, I saw this book first and I would like to purchase it," that was a lie, "I have grown quite fond of this book, dear sir." She mimicked his accent as she sashayed to the service counter. Her heart beat quickened when she heard his footsteps follow to her side.
There was a hardness in his eyes when he spun her around by the shoulder. "This is not a game," his accent was gone, "Give me the book or I will take it from you. I'm asking nicely, give me the book." 
"You didn't say please," she mumbled holding the book closer to her chest, keeping a playful air.
"Oh, I'm sorry." he corrected sarcastically, "May I please have the boo-" There was a loud crash out in the street drawing both their attention. "Shit," he scoffed, "Outta time. Time to go!"
Without warning he grabbed her hand, jerking her out the back door. They burst into a sunlit alley causing both of them to squint and cover their eyes. He looked left to right and decided to go right.
"Hey!," She yelled, "HEY! What are you doing! Let go!" She tried to pull, but he wrenched her forward, urging her to keep running.
"Listen, I can't explain much, but since you can read the book it looks like I have no choice."
'Great a crazy person,' she thought,'what have I gotten myself into now.' Her dad always told her that curiosity killed the cat, ironic her astrological sign is a Leo. "What do you mean 'I can read the book'? Of course I can read!" She yelled as they turned down another alley. They were winding behind buildings and jumping trash flowing from dumpsters that should have been emptied a week ago.
"Wait a minute! I said WAIT!," She managed to wrench her hand from his grasp.
She was breathing heavily, sweat dripped from her brow and perspiration began to bleed threw her graphic tee under her zip up sweater. Her grey skinny jeans were proving to be the wrong choice today. "Why are we running?" she huffed, adjusting her purse. He opened his mouth to respond but something behind her caught his attention. His lip curled in a snarl, and in a flash he was standing between her and a new entity. He had just bridged over five feet in a matter of seconds. Her mind struggled to keep up with the situation.
Wide eyed she turned slowly, becoming aware of a third person breathing heavily. Well, at least she had assumed it was a person. When her eyes fell upon the third individual her body went numb and she could feel her knees grow weak.
The alley they stood in was s-shaped with sharp turns, giving it the illusion that they were closed off. The buildings were not tall but had no windows, leaving only red brick leading up to a clear blue sky. The alley was empty save for few trash cans standing by a back door. There was no one else around, no witnesses. Not even a sound could be heard from the streets beyond. She swallowed hard, physically trying to push back the fear that was welling up inside.
The 'thing' stood at least six feet tall, but the awkward fit of a brown trench coat hiding a bulge seemed to suggest that the figure was taller. 'It' began to straighten, its height growing. She was right. Most of the time she liked being right, but this was not one of those times. It's shoulders rolled back and a ripping sound could be heard. It shed the coat like a skin it had grown out of. It looked humanoid in nature except the eyes were pale yellow and the skin held a green tint to it. The arms dangled un-proportionately long at its sides, revealing sharp nailed, lizard like fingers. She felt like she had just fallen into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle TV special.
She laughed but it was more of an exhale, "This can't be happening."
"The artifact," It hissed at her through uneven teeth.
Instinctively she gripped the book tighter and stepped back. The boy raised his hand, palm facing her, as if protecting her.
"Not today Grom." He smirked devilishly, "This here, is my treasure." His voice sounded playful, but everything about his demeanor said he was ready to fight.
She could barely find her voice, "This thing has a name...wait, you KNOW this thing?" Her question fell on deaf ears. The two seemed to be lost in their own world, glaring, each anticipating the first move of their opponent. 
It happened in a flash, they sprang towards each other. Their movements were a blur to her. She could only stand there frozen as the man she had met 15 minutes earlier battled a creature that seemed to have lept out of the pages of a comic book. He dodged the monsters swing with expert ease and struck it low in the gut. He hopped back and then sprang in again to deliver a blow to the head of the doubled over creature. Then he delivered a powerful, swift roundhouse kick to the creature's side sending it into the adjacent wall. Without even pausing her apparent savior whirled and grabbed her hand, pulling her from her stupor. 
"Do you trust me?!" he called back to her.
Her brain was still processing the fantastical situation that was occurring. "Do you trust me," he repeated louder and with more urgency as they ran.
"I- I," she stumbled over her tongue. Did she really have a choice? Something was happening to her that was beyond her imagination, much less beyond her control. Thoughts of her parents, friends, and future plans flashed threw her head. Suddenly, she was filled with adrenaline- the will to live. She could feel her whole body on fire with fatigue. She became acutely aware of the blood rushing in her ears, and her feet pounding on the pavement. She wanted to live, the desire was overwhelming.
"I- I trust you," she finished.
He just smiled back at her for a quick moment, then extended his free hand in front of him. His lips moved, speaking in a hushed tone, but she could tell it was no language she was familiar with. Suddenly, she noticed the alleyway opened into a busy street. She could see the cars rushing past, and they didn't seem to be slowing down. She had the urge to slam on the brakes, but a loud crash and howl behind her quickly nixed that idea. She was more afraid of what was behind her.
"Um!" she squeaked nervously, "Uhhhh what's the plan?" He was still mumbling gibberish, but a strange light had begun to surround his outstretched palm.
"Uh, hey! There's a street right-"
"You said you trusted me, right?" He grinned wide.
"Yeah but-"
"Then don't let go," he almost whispered, and lightly squeezed her hand.
Without slowing down they sprinted straight towards the busy avenue. She squeezed her eyes shut and braced for impact with the silver compact car en route to hit them. But there was nothing. She felt light, as if she was floating. She couldn't feel the ground under her anymore. She peeked, opening one eye and what she saw caused her jaw to drop. The two of them seemed to disappear from space into a shimmery silver tunnel. It looked like a worm hole out of Star Trek. She squeezed his hand tighter. Before she had time to take it all in, they touched down on green grass and the world around them slowly materialized and stabilized. She recognized the park, it was a few blocks from her college's campus.They were several miles away from where they had just been.
"You can let go now," he smiled gently at her, understanding she was in shock. She just stared wide eyed at him. He wiggled his fingers in her death grip, "Let. Go." He enunciated playfully.
She snapped out of it, releasing his hand. He flexed his hand and massaged it, studying her face. Feeling embarrassed she lowered her head and turned slightly. Lightly biting her lip, she pondered the last few moments struggling to come to any logical conclusion that wouldn't make her sound crazy. She looked at the red book still in her hand. This book was no ordinary book.
"WHAT IS THIS!?" She abruptly turned and practically shoved the book up his nose.
"Woah, woah," He raised his hands in surrender, "calm yourself lassy." He used his accent playfully. "I will explain everything, but let's get somewhere safer first." He looked about, and then started walking off. She stayed put, glaring at the outstretched book. Something pulled at her to open it again. She obeyed and lifted the hard cover.
"Who can know what the future holds..." but there was something more now. Another line had been added as if by magic. "In every moment lies a story waiting to be told..." Her mouth fell open. What could it mean?
"Well, are you coming? Or are you just going to stand there til the sun sets," he called back lightheartedly, tossing his black hair in the setting sun.
She closed the book, deciding to keep the addition a secret to herself... for now, and hurried to his side. 

[To be continued...?]

The Test of Will

Test of Will

October 20, 2008 at 9:47pm
In all the confusion of people dying, and people running, she wondered if there was really any reason why she should still remain alive. Why should she survive? What exactly was keeping her from killing herself? All she really had to look forward to was a butt load of bills, a ton of responsibilities, and not to mention social engagements. Was it all really worth it? Could she change the world even if she survived?
“It would be repeated,” she thought, “All of this will be repeated. I cannot escape it. I am like a sheep being lead around. I am different yet I am the same as everyone else. They are all my equals, but I am special and unique. I have to accept them, yet they do not accept me. I should let them perish in the flames of their wrong doings…but I must complete my mission.”

She lifted her head. The dream like flashback had ended. She surveyed the room of test takers, her fellow college classmates; three girls with fianc├ęs, lucky men in the military, and the other HAPPY with his long distance relationship; how she envied them. All of them seemed happier than she. They had a good direction in life, they knew where to go, how to work things, how to pass tests, and HOW TO TREAT LOVED ONES. She had failed in that particular area, and it was a constant thought on her mind. She couldn't let it go. She could not let it go. She had tried everything, and nothing worked. Everything just brought her back to the spot she started at. A start that was a mystery of metaphysical proportions.
Nothing in this life seemed new or vibrant to her anymore.
“This is depression,” the thought crossed her mind.

She glanced down at her half filled test, and then glanced at the window. She was two stories up, and the window was open with no screen. If she moved slowly at first, then sprinted and dove, she could make it out the window before anyone could scream. And by diving she might land just right on her head that it would snap her neck, she wouldn't feel a thing. The only sensation that would grace her body was the similar and wonderful sensation of a leaf floating on the breeze. Light, airy, peaceful…it was a nice thought. To have peace for once was all she wanted.

She finished her test like everyone else. "You have a mission to complete" Echoed in her head.

A Different Story~ Poem

Written April 19, 2011

A DifferEnt StorY

 A Different story I have to tell
One whose ending I don't know to well
I toss and I turn when I sleep at night
Will someone please show me the light
Corresponding worlds tell different tales
Where have my dreams gone, the baby wales
Fortune and fame don't know thy name
But the never ending game is the same
Let this rewind our minds back to a time
that we had experienced our birth
Time show the universe our worth
On the path of least resistance

What SPRINGS Forth~ September 25, 2011

I am that fisherman working on my nets on the bank of the sea, and coming towards me is Jesus. He asks me if I will drop what I am doing and follow him...? I think about my homework, my degree, my job and the risk I would be taking. Then I think of the poor, those children suffering for want of food and clean water. I think of my own Family, and all the good I will achieve if I  go with Jesus. I lay my net down, the net of societal rules, and Stand next to Jesus. If I choose, I can pick it up again, but I won't. All I need now is courage and compassion. ~

This thought came out of frustration. Frustrated with writting a paper no one could help me with. Frustrated with the government, the law enforcement and the media as the #Occupy WallSreet takes hold in the Financial district. I am frustrated with GOOGLE and the information monopoly it has become. I am frustrated with all this responisibility that I cannot delegate even though I am supposed too. I am frustrated with Freshman who don't care about saving the world. But I know that this is only because they do not understand how big the world is.

I have seen a world larger than myself. One I can participate in and improve upon. Here, now, I feel tired and stuck in the same old routine. Am I touching lives here? Does anyone hear me? Is my presence doing good on this campus, have I changed anything?
I know things are not simple. Especially when it comes to saving the world. AND when it comes to saving the world I WILL NOT GIVE UP, but what is the next step? I have placed my foot upon uncertain ground and my heart quivers in fear. Each day is a new beginning, but how can I treat it as such? How can I help you? How can I make things truly better?
I know we are all uncertain of something in our lives. Things keep changing and we find it harder and harder to adjust. I discovered once upon a time that we are all the same inside. We, everyone, every human, has fear, and doubt. We also have compassion, and the ability to understand one another. So Here, give me your uncertainties so I don't have to worry about my own. If I can make the world a better place for one person at a time it won't look so dim to me. I know that this might come off as selfish, but is it really?
I feel like I have really big wings, I mean huge wings, but they feel constrained. How can I break free and fly to all those in need? You have wings too. If I found away, would you fly with me?
SOME of you won't understand this. Most of you will. I want to Stand up like Jesus did. I want to reach out like Mother Theresa did. I want to Protest with the strength of Ghandi, and speak with all the prose of peace leaders that came before me. All I can do is Speak and Act on What I have said.All I can do is Speak and Act on What I have said.
But I need help from friends like you.
You have each contributed a feather to these wings on my back. A moment in time when you unknowningly saved me. A moment when time with you brought me out of my own pit of dispare. I have not forgotten you.
If this is too sentimental, I'm not sorry, you should embrace that feeling which makes you uncomfortable, Find why it is so uncomfortable, understand it, and thank it. This can only make you stronger.
Your heart is the key, it is also a well. A deep well from which you can keep drawing love. Love is something we never run out of. Love never dries up, or disappears. It can only be transfered from one person to another. What is the next step? for you, me, for the world?
How do we get past this ONE week......


Written 6/8/2011

Everyone is Crying out that
everything will be okay
they say
throw your money away
It is time for unity and love to bat.

Take a swing at this new thing
it comes in any flavor
just as long as you can savor
don't flush LIFE down the sink

The Horses are coming
a stampeed of bright hearts
will trample this world of dogs

The horses from the myths will ride
its said, they bring about
a great change, the secret is out
NOW its time for humanity to decide.

"My Creed"
I;m going to change my life.
Effective Immediately
Done flamboyantly
by jumping into something
way over my head
equipped with only the
confidence in myself
That I can learn, adapt, and accomplish
Anything I set my heart on.

This is my creed.
If I am depressed 
I recite this
if I ever feel in need
this gives me the courage
to address it myself.