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~ The Psycho-Spiritual Teachings of Richard Harvey ~
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Blogs contained here emanate from questions or responses to themes that arose in psychological and spiritual settings – sessions, groups, training workshops, etc. Please note that blog entries 64-166 are drawn from Richard Harvey’s articles page. This retrospective series of blogs spanned over 25 years; please remember when reading them that some of Richard’s thought and practice have evolved since. We hope you enjoy this blog and that you will carry on submitting your psycho-spiritual questions for Richard’s response, either through the form on our Contact Us page or in the ongoing video blog series. Thank you.

Center for Human Awakening BLOG

The Security of Resistance

by Richard Harvey on 05/16/19

There is a feeling of great security in resistance. Resistance gives us that solid sense of refusal, of the hard, reassuring solidity of a wall when our back is pressed up against it. Our backs against the wall feels good, it evokes the Americanism – the expression when a friend has “got our back,” meaning they are looking out for us. But whether we are looking back into the past, wanting to run backward, having someone watch our back, watching someone else’s back, or wanting back what we have given away or lost, any reference whatsoever to the past is dying – dying in order to be reborn as our new self, our true self, our natural identity before the conditioning, the indoctrination, and the struggle to survive in life came about and absorbed our spontaneity, our vibrancy, and our responsiveness to existence.

We are called upon to be self-referring, to be truly adult, to be not authoritarian but authoritative. To rely on our inner knowing as well as our inner unknowing is a demand now and it relies in turn on the bringing together of our unconscious and conscious worlds, our inner and outer worlds, past and future into the relative present, as our wholeness and our daring strives to overcome our resistance.

Dreams of Birth

People at this stage may have experience important dreams of giving birth. These dreams may help to describe and point out where they are still holding on. Here is one such dream:

I am in labor in a dark hospital room. My sister is assisting the female doctor who has performed some intervention in order to deliver the baby. But I don’t seem to see the baby, he is not really there. I am furious because I had devised a birth plan in which I stated I wanted a natural birth. The doctor is sewing me up because I have torn and I realize that the placenta in still inside. I begin to scream and tell my sister to stop it but she doesn’t seem to hear me and the sewing up carries on.

This dream expresses the fears the dreamer has about transformation. The new birth is the transformational process; the baby represents the transformed self. Transformation has not yet occurred hence the lack of attention to the baby or the unreality of it since he doesn’t appear in the dream. The dreamer fears that she may not be able to trust the birth process. She is worried that all her plans, predictions, and preferences for the birth or transforming will be ignored. Not only that she is anxious that the process will not be complete and that everything will be sewn up, or finished with the source of her baby’s nutrients, the placenta (which represents her therapy, her inner work which nourished her inner journey and brought her to this point) concealed and atrophying inside her, perhaps poisoning her… that her entire inner journey will have been for no purpose at all like a placenta discarded, no longer useful. The sister who appears in the dream represents poignamt betrayal, particularly because she was close to her in waking life.

Dreams of Making Love

Dreams of birth go hand in hand with dreams of love-making and intimacy as we approach the threshold. Here is an example; the dreamer is the same woman:

I am making love with my first boyfriend, Sean. We have had a lot of difficulty attempting to be alone together and now it is lovely, beautiful, and very sensual. The windows are wide open and I begin to feel a little uncertain about people looking in and seeing us. It is Sunday morning and I am due to be at church. I’m not sure who I want to please, but I feel a lot of pressure to attend the church service, when really I want to stay in bed with Sean.

The first boyfriend refers to first love – original primal love, which is psychologically the love of ourselves in our whole form or pure form, unsullied by life’s insinuations or insults. At the brink of transformation the dreamer refers back to the closest, nearest event of a primal nature in her life. Making love symbolizes union (remembering other kinds of sexual activity are likely to symbolize something else). The windows are open showing us that the dreamer is concerned or unconfident about others or perhaps about being seen, perhaps in her transformed state. She is concerned about what she will become when she has passed the Threshold.

Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected].

Blog entry #174

Statements of Presence

by Richard Harvey on 04/16/19

People carry some dominant theme through their statement of presence. This theme is the summation of their overall impression. It may be, I am not here: the face is vacant in expression; the physical body makes no impact and is energetically dull. It could be, I am excited, or overexcited, to be here: there is expectancy, anticipation, and you may feel drawn into the transaction. It may be, Look at this huge weight I am carrying, as the client slowly sits in the seat with apparently great effort and the very air has to move as the words release from their mouth. It can be the seductive and endearing, You will like me and it is imperative that you find me attractive: the client plays with facial expressions and physical poses and postures, expressing with the face, legs, hands, and feet, and the torso in an orchestrated attempt to incite positive feeling.

Other dominant presenting themes include: I am interesting because I am full of secrets, I am haunted, Don’t touch me or I will break, You’re not as good as (my dad, my previous therapist, my old boyfriend), or the disdainful You’re just not good enough.

Primary Modes of Access

Each of us favors one of the three centers – mental, emotional, and physical – as a way to encounter life. Some of us lead the encounter with our minds, some with our hearts, and others with our physical bodies. Those of us who favor the mind are systematic, organized, and analytical. We approach events conceptually and rationally. Emotionally-led people may strike us as irrational or unreasonable and physically-led people we may judge as inferior or at least more basic than us.

Those of us who favor the heart are emotional and often demonstratively spontaneous. We tend to find mentally-focused people over-complex, dry, and guarded. The physically-led person appears reckless and shallow, as they meet life events with mere intention and motivation, lacking in emotion, which appears colorless and futile to the emotionally-dominated person.

The physically-led person is tactile, strong, and will-centered. They may be involved with Tai Chi, martial arts, sports, marathon running, or yoga. If they are it will be a powerful pursuit for them, an intense and necessary part of their life in which they experience themselves in a connected and significant way. Mental people are too airy for the physically-centered person, although they may secretly admire them. People with mental access move and communicate in a world of mystery and obscurity to the person with primary physical access. To some degree similarly, the emotionally led person is a bewildering event, exhibiting overmuch feeling, passion, and sensitivity with no active justification.

Know yourself and know your clients, using your body awareness to understand more deeply how the world and others in it appear.

Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected].

Blog entry #173

Learning to Feel

by Richard Harvey on 03/15/19

We must learn to feel the world and with feeling the world, feel and truly experience “the other.” Experiencing the other we see past the forces of indoctrination. In time we start to see things as they are. When the thought "other" no longer takes up a position between you and I – this position creating a screen, a curtain between us – we can genuinely let “the other” in. We may even be able to merge in the truth that we are One.

This learning to feel should not be taken too lightly. Just three words and as with so much in personal growth, therapy, and inner work, three words that might sound light or trite or inconsequential. We might write it off – oh yes learning to feel, I get it, I see. But learning to feel is profound, highly significant, and intensely serious.

It reminds us of the insight of the heroes in sci-fi novels and movies like Brave New World, 1984, or The Matrix. It is like the altered states we can experience through hallucinatory or mind-bending pharmaceuticals. Then again more accurately and closer to home it is like those life-changing meetings with transcendent Reality, God, or the Mystery that has been experienced by humankind since recorded time began.

Feeling may be natural but we have learnt to shut down to such an extent that we habitually experience only a very small amount of our total potential. The visceral psycho-physical discovery of feeling in its true capacity and potential can be overwhelming. Therefore it should be approached gently – not because we want to hold back, but because a sudden, radical change for the organism can be such a shock that the suppressors and the contraction that previously held the organism in an unnatural state of feeling suppression may strengthen to meet the perceived threat in reaction to the sudden change.

As is most often the case in effective inner work, slow gentle progress is best, most thorough, and most importantly most genuine and lasting. Ego-forces have had us in their grip for many years by the time we come to inner work. At one time these defenses were a viable effective answer to what we were facing in our lives. The most effective way to let them go is with understanding and with love.

Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected].

Blog entry #172

Family Beliefs and Dynamics

by Richard Harvey on 02/15/19

Today I'll bake; tomorrow I'll brew.
Then I'll fetch the queen's new child.
It is good that no one knows
Rumpelstiltskin is my name.

(from "Rumpelstiltskin" the German folktale in Grimm's Fairy Tales 1812)

The extraordinary subject of family dominates and pervades our existence as individual and collective beings throughout our life. Who can see their family clearly and vividly? Who can name the qualities, the attributes of the individual members and the collective giant of family itself? Knowing yourself and others is not enough; there are also the relationships between each of the members. In a family of four, there are 48 basic relationships in play (relationship to self and the other three, relation to you from each of these plus the perceived and possibly erroneous relationships you project). Is it any wonder that family dynamics are so notoriously dense?

In myths and fairy tales from around the world we find the motif of the mysterious helper who strikes a bargain with the distressed heroine and is eventually disempowered when his name is discovered and spoken (see The Name of the Helper: Aarne-Thompson tale type 500). The German folktale Rumpelstiltskin is perhaps the one we are most familiar with. Briefly, a boastful father claims his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king incarcerates her in a tower and threatens to kill her unless she can perform the miraculous task. In her despair, a stranger appears and produces the gold in exchange for her necklace and ring. The king offers to marry or kill her on the third night unless she produces even more gold than before. This time the stranger produces the gold in exchange for her first-born child. She marries the king, has a baby boy, and the stranger appears to collect his reward. She offers all her riches, for she is now the queen, and eventually the stranger agrees to delaying taking possession of the child for three days, during which time if she can guess his name correctly he will relinquish his claim. 

Now here comes a highly significant variation. The queen discovers the stranger's real name. when he is found in the dead of night, dancing around a fire singing a rhyme. But in some versions it is the king who hears the stranger's song, in other's it is a traveling artisan or someone who works for the king, in others it is the girl's parents, and in still others it is the girl herself.

The name of course is Rumpelstiltskin -- a name you could never have guessed. But whether you, your parents or the king discover it and release you from the follies, the intrigues, and the hidden dynamics of your family belief system and prison is crucial.

Therapy is the pursuit in which we reveal our truth, our essence -- in which we discover our true name. The dwarf, the stranger, the trickster are merely versions of an animus that is attempting to thwart us from that discovery. When we are confident in our inner work we understand that the answer is within. Hence in a German version of the story "Kugerl," we read, "The girl was satisfied with this answer, and she went home."

The hungry ghosts, the imps, and those inner beings who seek to take from us manipulatively are overcome by speaking their names: Rumpelstiltskin, Hipche-Hipche, Doubleturk. The answer, of course, is found at home, or within.

"If my bride knew that my name is Doubleturk, she wouldn't take me!"

Within you -- and within each client you work with -- are the parental images you have taken in throughout your early years. Also there is the authoritarian voice or image, the part of you with a will to power in the name of protection, in the name of survival. And finally there is the essence, the kernel of yourself, your own soul or psyche which is the one that needs to rise to the challenge and free itself from the chains and oppression of the family matrix, outmoded, anachronistic, and irrelevant as it is now.

This idea of having power over something you can name has great relevance in family exploration in psychotherapy. As we work, as therapist or client, through the mazes and labyrinths of our family history, clarity arises from our acts of naming. As we get these words, notions, and descriptions "right" -- that is more true, more vivid, more real -- so family conditioning loosens its hold progressively over our lives. When finally we have the word for it (figuratively), our attachments dissolve.

Naming the stranger, the dwarf, the half person is by reflection naming ourselves. By naming what we reject, we recognize what we are prepared to accept. What your client aspires to, what motivates them, their intentionality and their attitude and resilience to overcome challenges and discover their true nature -- these are the qualities that determine the outcome of their personal process. Will they discover themselves or not? Will they take the complete course -- the one that only they can know, the one that is designated within them -- and learn to speak their own name?

Discovering the name of the trickster reveals to us our own truth, our own completeness, our wholeness and wholeness has been the goal of depth psychotherapy since the Upanishads, since counseling began.

Fairy tales are of childhood. The characters and the narratives are like family stories, symbolic of inner dynamics and reflective of the time when we are learning to make sense of the world, when everything appeared to be black and white.

Here I sit, carving gold,
My name is Holzrührlein Bonneführlein.
If the mother knew that,
She could keep her daughter.

("Dwarf Holzrührlein Bonneführlein" in Märchen und Sagen aus Hannover 1854)

Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]

Blog entry #171

The Importance of Boundaries in Therapy

by Richard Harvey on 01/15/19

Why are boundaries so important in therapy?


Therapy is a relationship. The meeting points of this relationship are as specific as any other kind of relationship. The wise therapist needs to pay careful, regular attention to these meeting points as a way of maintaining healthy contact with her clients.


Boundaries enable relationship. They are not what relationship is all about, but they offer ways and means. Like internet connections they link you up, rather than proscribe what will be the content of the communication.


In therapy there are physical boundaries and energetic, emotional ones -- the seen and the unseen boundaries.


Money in remuneration for therapy is a seen boundary. You make a charge and the client agrees to pay it. That's an agreement you make and it is a boundary that can be kept or broken.


Time is another seen or physical boundary. You agree to meet your client at a predetermined time and frequency. How exact that time is, how fixed, how you deal with late arrival and the consequences of cancellation or not showing up -- this is the business of negotiating clear time boundaries.


Money and time boundaries are extremely powerful and they can have profound therapeutic results. They reflect our sense of inner worth. Money and time are symbolic of self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, and our overall sense of value. They are undoubtedly important issues for our clients -- but also for ourselves.


Relational boundaries in psychotherapy and counseling vary enormously across different traditions and lineages. Analytical psychotherapists, for example, don't work with the relative or a friend of an existing client. Humanistic psychotherapists by contrast may well have social relationships with their clients. We will surely return to this subject over the levels of the SAT training, since it is so complex and important.


In the meantime, questions such as, Is attending a social situation with a client, outside of the therapeutic setting, breaking a boundary? Is befriending a client breaking a boundary? What should I do if I arrive at a social dinner and one of my clients is present? should be thought about  deeply and, for the moment, I suggest that you ask what is right for you in regard to this boundary issue and in regard to individual clients. Where you feel unclear and need to discuss a particular relationship further, I suggest discussing it with your supervisor.

Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected]

Blog entry #170

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