Presencing with Soul

Transpersonal Perspectives on Awareness-Based Social Change Practice


  • Jessica Bockler Alef Trust, United Kingdom



presencing, consciousness, transpersonal psychology, active imagination, spiritual practice, social change


In his outline of Theory U, an awareness-based social change methodology, Scharmer (2018) depicts seven stages of presencing which he suggests can enable deeper modes of perception and knowing, to help us actualise our highest potential for social, economic, and cultural renewal. In this paper I attempt to shine a deeper light into the seven stages of presencing, by drawing from the fields of transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, and consciousness studies. In doing so, my objective is to operationalise in psychological terms key processes in presencing, such as “letting go”, letting come”, “connecting to source”, and “dialoguing with the universe”. I explore what such processes may involve and what they may demand of presencing practitioners.

In the first half of the paper, I map Scharmer’s (2018) seven stages onto three core streams of consciousness which inform the human experience, reflecting on the features and qualities of each stream, and considering what psychosomatic dynamics may be at play as we enact the trajectory of the U. In depicting the three streams of consciousness, I highlight some of the challenges which presencing presents, suggesting that it is, in essence, a depth-psychological and spiritual approach.

In the second half of the paper, I explore the practical and ethical implications of presencing, considering what capacities and attitudes may need to be nurtured in practitioners to support skilful facilitation and enactment of the U process. I also consider what frameworks could be deployed to facilitate safe and effective practice.


Anderson, R. & Braud, W. (2011). Transforming self and others through research: Transpersonal research methods and skills for the human sciences and humanities. SUNY.

Assagioli, R. (1993). Psychosynthesis: The definitive guide to the principles and techniques of psychosynthesis. Thorsons.

Barušs, I. (2007). Science as a spiritual practice. Imprint Academic.

Bockler, J. (2011). Theatre as a transformative practice: A heuristic exploration of the psychosomatic dynamics of self-expressive theatre practices [Doctoral dissertation, Liverpool John Moores University]. LJMU Research Online.

Bohm, D. & Hiley, B. J. (1993). The undivided universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory. Routledge.

Bohm, D. & Peat, F.D. (1987). Science, order, and creativity. Bantam Books.

Chodorow, J. (Ed.). (1997). Jung on active imagination. Princeton University Press.

Daniels, M. (2005). Shadow, self, spirit: Essays in transpersonal psychology. Imprint Academic.

Deikman, A. J. (1966). Deautomatization and the mystic experience. Psychiatry, 29(4), 324-338.

Ferrer. J. N. (2000). Transpersonal knowing: A participatory approach to transpersonal phenomena. In T. Hart, P. L. Nelson & K. Puhakka (Eds.) Transpersonal knowing: Exploring the horizon of consciousness (pp. 213-252). State University of New York Press.

Ferrer, J. N. (2017). Participation and the mystery: Transpersonal essays in psychology, education, and religion. State University of New York Press.

Franz, M.-L. von (1980). On active imagination. In M. F. Keyes (Ed.). Inward journey: Art as therapy (pp. 125-133). Open Court.

Friedman, H. (2002). Transpersonal psychology as a scientific field. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 21, 175-187.

Gill, M.M. & Brenman, M. (1959). Hypnosis and related states: Psychoanalytic studies in regression. International Universities Press.

Grof, S. (1993). The holotropic mind: The three levels of human consciousness and how they shape our lives. HarperCollins.

Hartmann, H. (1958). Ego psychology and the problem of adaptation. International Universities Press.

Heron, J. (1988). Cosmic psychology. Endymion Press.

Hillman, J. (1975). Re-visioning psychology. Harper & Row.

Jung, C.G. (1929/1975). Commentary on the secret of the golden flower. Collected Works, vol. 13. Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. (1995). Gesammelte Werke, vol. 1 - 20. (L. Jung-Merker & E. Rüf, Eds.). Walter-Verlag.

Lancaster, B.L. (2002). In defence of the transcendent. Transpersonal Psychology Review, 6(1), 42-51.

Lancaster, B.L. (2004). Approaches to consciousness: The marriage of science and mysticism. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mindell, A. (2002). Working on yourself alone. Lao Tse Press.

Mindell, A. (2016, August). The evolution and three branches of process theory. (3rd Ed.)

Miller, J. C. (2004). The transcendent function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious. State University of New York Press.

Mindell, A. (2004). The quantum mind and healing: How to listen and respond to your body’s symptoms. Hampton Roads Publishing Company.

Mindell, A. (2007). Earth-based psychology: Path awareness from the teachings of Don Juan, Richard Feynman, and Lao Tse [Kindle Edition]. Gatekeeper Press.

Moore, R. L. (2001). The archetype of initiation: Sacred space, ritual process, and personal transformation (M. J. Havlick, Ed.). Xlibris Corporation.

Newham, P. (1999). Using voice and movement in therapy: The practical application of voice movement therapy. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Patten, T. (2018). A new republic of the heart: An ethos for revolutionaries. North Atlantic Books.

Presencing Institute (2020, March 18). GAIA: Global Activation of Intention and Action.

Raff, J. (2000). Jung and the alchemical imagination. Nicholas-Hays.

Rapaport, D. & Gill, M.M. (1959). The points of view and assumptions of metapsychology. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 40, 153-161.

Romanyshyn, R. D. (2013). The wounded researcher: Research with soul in mind. Spring Journal Books.

Rowan, J. (1993). The transpersonal: Psychotherapy and counselling. Routledge.

Scharmer, O. & Käufer, K. (2013). Leading from the emerging future: From ego-system to eco-system economies. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Scharmer, O. (2018). The essentials of theory U: Core principles and applications. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Scharmer, O. (2020). Social systems as if people mattered: Response to the Kühl critique of theory U. Journal of Change Management, 1-11.

Sheldrake, R. (1981). A new science of life: The hypothesis of formative causation. Tarcher.

Washburn, M. (1995). The ego and the dynamic ground. State University of New York Press.

Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambhala.

Wilber, K., Patten, T., Leonard, A. & Morelli, M. (2008). Integral life practice: A 21st-century blueprint for physical health, emotional balance, mental clarity, and spiritual awakening. Integral Books.

Wright, P. A. (1998). Gender issues in Ken Wilber’s transpersonal theory. In D. Rothberg & S. Kelly (Eds.). Ken Wilber in dialogue: Conversations with leading transpersonal thinkers (pp. 207-236). Quest Books.



How to Cite

Bockler, J. (2021). Presencing with Soul: Transpersonal Perspectives on Awareness-Based Social Change Practice. Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change, 1(1), 15–33.